Tuesday, June 08, 2021
Like seemingly everything else in America, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked its fair share of bitter, polarizing debates: over masks, over distancing, over vaccines. Lockdowns are no exception. One assumption many Americans seem to make is that the more a government limits gatherings, mandates masks, restricts business activity and advises residents to stay at home, the more economic damage it will do.
Yet for much of the past year, some experts have quietly advanced a counterargument: that economic activity is mainly affected by the rising and falling severity of the pandemic itself " not the relative strictness of the measures implemented to mitigate it. In fact, these experts argued, nonpharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs " a set of 20 government responses such as business closures, mask mandates and stay-at-home advisories that Oxford University rates according to stringency " can have an economic upside. The more the virus seems to be under control, the more eager people will be to participate in the economy.
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