Every country has imposed some or the other measures of restriction to contain the spread of COVID-19. Allow me to document these largely redundant stages of restrictions, that come before the inevitable lock down.
Stage 1: The ‘Recommendation and Advisory’ Stage
Here the Governments ‘generally suggest’ and ‘advise’ the population to avoid crowded areas and to stay at home as much as possible. Most travel is still taking place – both international and domestic and local public transport. Out in the city, it is generally business as usual except maybe lesser overall traffic and people. During this stage, the virus infects an additional few hundred or so.
Stage 2: The ‘Declaration of Emergency’ Stage
Here, the Governments declare emergencies! Woo-hoo! It may make headlines, but really this only means that the Govt gets some additional powers to do some procedural shit – like bypass bureaucracy, implement measures faster, etc. Keep in mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean new restrictions on people’s movements – though it could contain some more ‘suggestions’, etc. It just gives the impression that some people are doing some shit. (Reminds me of that line “Jesus is Coming…look Busy!”)
Here, people still go to work everyday, a bunch of companies will ask their employees to work from home, traffic becomes lighter, maybe crowded areas get closed (think malls, movie theaters, concerts, etc.). But no real enforcement or clear direction on who should or should not be out. Schools may still be functioning (think UK). Some international travel is restricted, but domestically all is normal. Then the virus spreads even more – maybe a couple of thousand cases or so.
Stage 3: The ‘Non-Essential Restriction’ Stage
You know your country is in this stage if the word ‘non-essential’ is thrown around by your Government a lot. Usually it goes something like this: “…blah..blah…blah..blah…..non-essential…blah..blah is not allowed … blah … blah….” But then it is absolutely essential for a bunch of high school kids to go throw hoops in the park’s basketball court. And right next to them, of course you see a bunch of small kids (with their parents around) playing on the swing – because that is so god damn essential! Maybe there are few more restrictions on international travel. Maybe you will see a news story of, at most, ONE person getting fined or jailed because they are skipping quarantine, leading people to believe that their Govt must be ON IT like a pro! Then the virus spreads to greater than 10,000 people.
Stage 4: The “Shit Just Got Real” Stage
Complete lock down! Nobody allowed to go out for anything except emergencies. All travel – domestic, international, and local – is suspended. Widespread deployment of the police and military to enforce this lock down. This is the point the governments realized that ‘generally suggesting’, ‘declaring emergencies’, and ‘blah..blah…non-essential…blah blah’ won’t make people get off the streets. And usually by then, the virus has spread so much that they FINALLY realize that the shit just got real – and very likely out of control!
In the next post, I will talk about what I call the “Proportional Restrictions Approach” and why it should be made illegal.