Tired of the COVID Lockdown? Here is What a Responsible Reopening Strategy Would Look Like

People are getting tired of the COVID-19 lockdown. Surveys show that a majority still put a greater priority on protecting public health than on reopening the economy, but either way, we would all prefer a way to do both. A plan released yesterday from the Harvard-based Safra Center for Ethics shows that is possible, if we are willing to take the necessary steps.

  • Phase 2: Expand the definition of “essential” and begin relaxation of collective social distancing orders. During this phase, which should require another month or so, testing capacity should grow to about 5 million per day, with appropriate follow-up in the form of tracing and supported isolation as needed. Universal social distancing can be eased, but vulnerable populations will need to be cautious about re-entering the community. At the end of this phase, about 70 percent of the labor force should be back on the job. Those who can telecommute would continue to do so.
  • Phase 3: End the economic misery of collective stay-at-home orders. By the end of this phase, 80 percent of the workforce should be back on the job. Support structures should be in place to allow vulnerable communities to relax their degree of social distancing.
  • Phase 4: Fully mobilize the pandemic-resilient economy and stay open. Reintegrate the remaining workers into the economy, including those telecommuters who wish to return to their offices. Reopen schools. Continue vigilant testing and monitoring in order to identify and contain any outbreaks that may emerge.

Economist, Senior Fellow at Niskanen Center, Yale Ph.D. Interests include environment, health care policy, social safety net, economic freedom.

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