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How do we think about the UK lockdown debate?
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The state should end lockdown in phases

Advice from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Business says there is only one way to minimise deaths in the reopening of the country: in phases based on individual vulnerability. The government must decide which groups are immune to the disease and phase normality back.
Coronavirus Government Health Lockdown United Kingdom


The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020 led to national and international measures of social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. As a result, debates about the effectiveness of lockdowns progressively arose, sparking protests and questions about what parts of the population should stay in lockdown or not.

The Argument

Phased recovery is the only way forward. The government must instruct us on how to come out, and when to do so, group by group.[1] As the different groups of society are exposed to different levels of risk, they should be allowed to return to a new form of normality after lockdown earlier than other groups. A collective lockdown is not the most efficient measure to take when certain parts of society have a really low risk of contracting or spreading the virus through immunity. One way to assure such an approach is through immunity testing. In the case of the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has proposed the idea of an immunity passport that would allow those who have developed immunity through contracting the virus to return to work and social gatherings in a safe fashion. [2] Other approaches, like the one used by the Chinese government in the region of Hubei relies on a three coloured QR code phone application that determines if citizens can move around freely according to their health record and the places they have stayed at. This system relies on heavy exploitation of personal and private data and is thus not feasible for all countries due to data protection regulations. [3] Another approach that is adopted by many European countries like Denmark, France or Germany is the combination of social distancing with widespread testing in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading whilst slowly returning to social life. Such a model can allow to isolate only vulnerable groups that have been identified through testing and tracking rather than the entire population.[1] In any case, the introduction of a vaccine has to be awaited to assure adequate safety for a return to the pre-corona status quo. [4]

Counter arguments

Immunity to COVID-19 is still underexplored and it might be not as long-lasting or constant in its degree amongst different individuals. As a consequence, the immunity passport is not an idea that should be implemented at this point. [5] Having an immunizy passport would discriminate against people who have not developed immunity through contracting the virus. It is an approach that doesn’t promote solidarity and that could possibly encourage people to get infected in the hope to get immune and return to work.[1]



Progressive and individualised reopening approaches will prove to be the most effective.


[P1] If someone does not pose harm to him/herself or others, they shouldn’t be restricted in what they can do. [P2] The individual situation of someone should determine what they are allowed to do rather than the overall situation of a community determining it for everyone.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] If someone does not pose harm to him/herself or others, they should still act in solidarity and consider the ramifications for other members of society. [P2] The individual situation of someone should not determine what they are allowed to do. The overall situation of a community should weigh higher.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:47 UTC

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