Post-lockdown Routine Will Look Nothing Like the Life We Knew

Some Israelis are clinging to the hope that after Passover we’ll get back to normal life, to something fairly similar to how things were before the crisis hit. This is not the case, and this must be made very plain.

Even after some of the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, large gatherings will not be permitted, physical distance will have to be maintained, online orders and deliveries will still be preferable and we’ll continue to wear masks. The “exit strategy” from lockdown is not a one-time event featuring a swift return to the fondly remembered past, but a series of trial and error measures of two to three weeks in duration that will eventually lead to a routine that differs significantly from the one we knew for most of our lives. It will last for many months, at least.

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Businesses will also have to adapt to the new reality of distancing, out of necessity (and as an opportunity). Activity that combines long-distance ordering and delivery will have to become the main source of income for traditional, small businesses too, particularly during weeks when there is a rise in the incidence of illness and a tightening of the lockdown. Such a transformation does not happen quickly, but is essential. This will require a national effort, incentives and government aid to support businesses and encourage them to change their paradigm as long as they are capable of doing so. The time to start the process is now, as months of ups and downs await us amid the coronavirus routine.

In previous articles, I wrote of the reasonable conditions for activating an exit strategy, of which there are two – the first is a safety margin for averting disaster, and the second is a ready and effective epidemiological alternative for coping with a large number of patients in the absence of a lockdown. As we examine each of these conditions to see whether the time is right for an exit from the lockdown, we’ll also see why, even if both these conditions are not fully met, for reasons of proportionality and risk-management, we will very likely have to take the first steps towards easing the lockdown after Passover.

Safety margin

We are about to begin the first experiment of the exit strategy. This is a continual process of risk management, managing medical and economic risks.

Let’s begin with the first condition – a safety margin for averting disaster. For this purpose, we must guarantee that there are enough available beds in the system to absorb four to five “doublings” of the number of seriously ill patients (that could happen within three weeks) and obtain a good indication that at the time of the exit from the lockdown another significant exponential increase in the infection rate does not occur. Fortunately, the number of seriously ill patients is currently stabilizing at around 100-200, a number that is widely agreed to be within a safety margin to ensure that the health system would not collapse in the wake of a cautious and calculated easing of restrictions.