In the face of a second surge in coronavirus cases, countries who have already experimented with nationwide restrictions are now choosing to re-impose local lockdowns in an attempt to contain the virus in specific communities and areas.
Where and Why
As a number of countries emerge from nationwide coronavirus-related lockdowns, the devastating effects of restrictions on the economy, as well as physical and mental health, are being recognised. However, with some countries now experiencing a re-emergence of rising case numbers, an alternative to a nationwide lockdown is being sought. With the benefit of now established testing facilities, which were still in their infancies in March when most countries adopted their first round of lockdown, cases can now be tracked quickly and accurately back to their source. This capability is prompting governments to impose local lockdowns to contain specific outbreaks, rather than reverting back to nationwide restrictions.
Countries that have adopted this containment technique include the UK, who has re-imposed restrictions on the city of Leicester after identifying a significant rise in case numbers there, compared with other parts of the country. Australia has also followed suit, placing the city of Melbourne back into lockdown after testing showed a rise in community transmission there. Spain, Germany, China, Portugal and Rwanda are others that have imposed local lockdowns.
Those responsible for deciding whether to impose a local lockdown are once again juggling a trade-off between short-run and long-run consequences. Decision makers must consider the effects of adverse economic conditions and current health concerns on a local area, against the likely success of containing the virus through a local lockdown.
Prevent further spread: The main advantage of a local lockdown is that it should contain and control the spread of the virus.
Contained economic damage: The national economy can continue to function, while only the area under lockdown suffers, limiting the economic damage.
Centralised response: A local lockdown can be tailored to the requirements of the area, rather than blanket nationwide restrictions that fail to address local issues. In this instance, resources can be focused on specific local needs, which should, in theory, ensure a quicker and safer return to normality.
Harder to enforce: While the majority of the population continue to regain pre-lockdown freedoms, there is a risk that those under a local lockdown may perceive their treatment as unfair. Lacking in incentives to adhere to local restrictions may increase the chances of restrictions being ignored and the subsequent failure to contain the virus. If this is the case, a local lockdown may be a particularly ineffective policy in a country that has relied on public will, rather than security forces, to enforce restrictions.
Reduced effectiveness: With a local lockdown harder to enforce for the above reason, there is a risk that local restrictions will only serve to spread the virus further. Denying locals access to services and shops, as well as other nationally-permitted behaviours, may push residents under restrictions further afield to acquire what the rest of the population are allowed. If this does occur, it risks spreading the virus to areas outside the border of the lockdown that would potentially not have been infected if the lockdown was not in place. In this case, a local lockdown would prove counterintuitive.
As countries continue to loosen nationwide restrictions and look for alternative means to tackle the virus, local lockdowns are likely to become more common. As this trend continues, NGS advises that travellers should:
– Check all local travel restrictions related to destinations and points of departure before travel.
– Monitor local media and government warnings for updates to the health environment and for any national security measures in place.
– Prior to travel, ensure a contingency plan is in place in case of being caught up in a local lockdown.
– Prior to travel, ensure return from the destination will be permitted if either the destination or origin location enters a local lockdown.
– Ensure travel documents fulfil the requirements for entry and the duration of stay.
– Be aware of the nearest health facilities.
– Adhere to all COVID-19 related rules.
– Ensure you have main points of contact (company POC, assistance company, FCO and any others deemed essential) to hand and in hard copy as well.
– Consider establishing or altering your check in schedule based upon the fluctuation of restrictions.
Author: Lauren Snelling, Risk Analyst
NGS is an emergency evacuation company that runs tracking, remote medical and security operations for global clients.