If Germany, for example, takes a different approach to constraining the virus than its neighbors, the government might not risk fully reopening its borders for fear of undermining its public health efforts. Yet without open borders, the Continent’s economy will not properly function.
“The lack of coordination here is such a big issue,” Professor Beach said. “Unless you have a common strategy, you have to keep the borders closed. But if the borders are closed, then do the supply chains still work over an extended time period?”
Even within individual countries, the easing of restrictions has lacked a cohesive approach.
In Spain, workers could nominally return to factories, but many were not needed because of a lack of demand. And those who did return were sometimes fearful for their health.
“I don’t agree with it, but what else can you do?” said a 52-year-old electrician in Barcelona, who asked to be identified only by his first name, José. “If my bosses call me, and I say no, they won’t call me again.”
In Italy, booksellers cited a lack of clarity about whether people could now travel from neighboring towns to visit their shops, or only from the surrounding district.
Mauro Marrani, who works at his wife’s bookstore in Florence, said he had written to the president of his region for an answer. Mr. Marrani was also confused by a requirement that the bookshop provide customers with disposable gloves — which are almost impossible to find.
Amid this uncertainty, he said, he had made only one sale in five hours.
“It’s all very vague,” Mr. Marrani said. “If it remains this way, I think we’re better off closing altogether, and waiting until all stores reopen.”