Social distance vs economic distance - Barokong

Social distance need not mean economic distance.

This is an attempt to put advice to policy maker into one simple sentence. They have shut down the economy telling us not to go to work or businesses to open, except those deemed "essential" which are going on much as before, often with a surprising lack of attention to virus spreading.

The virus spreads socially. It does not care how much GDP you're producing when you're together socially. A birthday party is a virus-spreading disaster. It may give great joy to life, but does not help people pay bills. The key target is the average reproduction rate -- if one person gets it how many does he or she spread it to. The goal of policy is to get that below one without destroying the economy.

So here is my suggestion: Regulate interactions, not where those interactions take place. Reopen the economy with social distance protocols.

In part, this amounts to safety protocols that businesses should incorporate -- all businesses, essential or not. But it applies equally to social interactions. By regulating the nature of interactions, not specific businesses, reopen policies will also be, and be perceived as much fairer, which is going to matter.

The principles are pretty simple.

Large groups should not meet indoors in close quarters.  Where groups do have to work together, minimize the number of new people -- keep shifts together, and so forth. Stay 6 feet apart. Wear masks. Sanitize. People who do have to interact a lot, be they emergency room nurses, or grocery cashiers, need extra precautions. Use all the tests we have. If you have a temperature or any symptoms, stay home and don't contact other people.

Write a common sense set of rules for essential and non essential business, and social interactions. Focus on the super spreading activities. Keep it simple so social pressure can monitor, which is more effective than official pressure.

In heaven's name, reopen parks. Allow gardeners and tree trimmers to work -- they work outside, alone, and with masks on. Clamp down every bit on birthday parties as much as on noisy hot indoor bars.

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