Because COVID-19 is far less dangerous to the young than it is to the elderly or immune-comprised, and because generalized lockdowns are economically devastating, many countries have implemented targeted policies instead.
These policies either specifically focus on senior centres, which have made up the overwhelming number of COVID-19 deaths, or they target activities that are particularly high-risk. The most important of these seem to be indoor public activities including nightclubs, sports events, and entertainment venues where person-to-person contact with many other people is unavoidable.
Aside from these rather obvious measures, and given new information that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 seems to be “very rare,” especially outdoors, the cost-benefit to locking down particular activities may very quickly decline.
Policies Targeted to Senior Centres
Protective gear for workers at senior homes
Do not send infected patients back to senior homes
Do not rotate senior home staff
Consider asking senior home staff to live on-site for duration of epidemic
Countries Implementing Limited lockdowns
The countries that implemented measured responses to COVID-19 generally focused on activities where either large numbers of people congregate in close proximity, or where the activity includes person-to-person contact, such as gyms and swimming pools.
The activities most often targeted were public events, nightclubs, and bars. Restaurants remained open, but were generally advised to enact physical distancing, either through spatial separation or with a physical partition.
Other businesses that make up the vast majority of jobs, such as office work, factories, or outdoor work, were typically not restricted since they neither involved large groups in close proximity nor intimate person-to-person contact.
Netherlands: The Netherlands’ “intelligent lockdown” merely encouraged people to stay home and maintain a 5-foot distance, and only closed restaurants, bars, schools, and museums. Beaches remained open, but parking lots were closed to limit crowds.
Sweden: Bars and restaurants remained open, but were required to space tables 2 metres apart, and violators were shut down.
Taiwan. Restaurants remained open, but the government issued voluntary guidelines for physical distancing, including a 1.5-metre distance between tables. In fact, some businesses ignored these guidelines and instead installed partitions between tables, relying on customers to decide whether they feel safe in the business. Meanwhile, many businesses provided free hand sanitizer or temperature checks.
Japan. While the central government asked businesses to close, there was no requirement, so some crowded businesses shut but many remained open. Tokyo had the most aggressive policy, targeting bars, internet cafes, and swimming pools, but restaurants, pubs, and bars were merely asked to close by 7pm or 8pm.
Hong Kong. Most businesses remained open, but restaurants were required to maintain 5 feet of distance between tables. The only closed businesses were bars, karaoke lounges, cinemas, and gyms.