They are more vulnerable to the spread of viruses. Virologists speak of “super spreaders”: places where people infect an above-average number of fellow human beings. Due to their population density alone, big cities pose a health threat. Megacities like New York, Singapore and London were already quickly overwhelmed by the first wave of corona. The pandemic will not only be decided in the metropolises.
Country air is “virus-free”
Corona is becoming the driver of a new urban exodus thus leading to a new relationship between city and country. Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, there was a trend “out to the country”. Immobilienscout 24, Germany’s largest internet portal for real estate, found a significantly higher interest in houses in the countryside at the beginning of the lockdown in spring. The findings also apply to other regions in Europe: the demand for real estate for a second residence in the surrounding areas of the conurbations has significantly increased everywhere. Based on the Corona experience, rural areas are considered by many to be safer and more “virus-free” than the big cities. According to a survey by the Second German Television (ZDF), more than three quarters (78 percent) of the (German)population is convinced that it is better for their children to grow up in the countryside. Only ten percent see their children’s future in the big city.
The 40+ generation in particular is drawn to the countryside
While Europe’s big cities are growing almost exclusively due to the influx of young people aged 20 to 40, the 40-plus age group is increasingly moving out. Locality, nature and home are in fashion again. Above all, families with a desire for home ownership are seeking to buy in rural regions outside the big cities. Small and medium-sized towns are particularly popular. Social distance is easier in the countryside than in the big city. Neighbourly solidarity, which has to be established in the big cities via technical infrastructures, is everyday life in the countryside. This is another reason why it is easier in the countryside to track and combat outbreaks of infection and new outbreaks. In the countryside, neighbours always keep an eye on things, and large parties and gatherings are immediately conspicuous.
Home office: less commuting, more climate protection
The change in the world of work towards home office will also enhance rural areas. Home office means less commuting and more climate protection. If 40 percent of employees work in a home office two days a week, CO2 consumption is reduced by 20 percent, according to the results of a Greenpeace study conducted last summer.
Corona life needs both spaces, city and country. Greater relief for the big cities by upgrading the rural regions helps both – health-wise, ecologically and economically. The trend towards (second) residences in the countryside will increase. It will depend on the political design whether this applies to as many as possible or only to a few. In order to relieve urban risk areas, rural areas are needed. City dwellers, out to the countryside!