There is early evidence that the full national lockdown imposed since 26 March 2020 has successfully limited the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are serious risks associated with lifting lockdown restrictions too soon, or in an unsystematic and disorderly manner.
Restrictions on economic activity need to be adapted to epidemiological trends, and may need to be relaxed and tightened in different periods. An alert system should be created with clearly defined levels of restriction that can be imposed by the National Command Council as necessary.
To determine which sectors should be allowed gradually to resume activity, three criteria should be used:
- Risk of transmission (including the ease of implementing mitigation measures)
- Expected impact on the sector of continued lockdown (including prior vulnerability)
- Value of the sector to the economy (e.g. contribution to GDP, multiplier effects, export earnings)
Sectors that have a low risk of transmission (or where this risk can easily be mitigated), that would suffer most acutely from a continued lockdown in terms of retrenchments, company failures, or loss of productive capacity and international market share, and that have a high value to the economy should be prioritised.
These criteria should themselves be subject to an ordinal ranking of priority. Thus, sectors with a high risk of transmission should not be allowed to resume activity until this risk is reduced, regardless of the potential impact on their sector or their value to the economy. Among those sectors with a low or manageable risk of transmission, considerations of impact and value can be used to attribute priority.