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COVID-19: Early Evening Curfews are Not Effective and May Backfire
9 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2021More...
Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries have introduced early evening curfews. Several studies try measure the effectiveness of such measures across different countries, but clear identification of effects is elusive.
Methods: We took advantage of a natural experiment in Greece, where curfews shifted from 9pm to 6pm in one region, but not in another. We followed a difference-in-difference econometric approach, where we compared trends in mobility in groceries and pharmacies as well as residential spaces before and after the introduction of the 6pm curfew, in the two regions.
Findings: We find that the 6pm instead of 9pm curfew in Athens led to a 4·63 percentage point relative increase in time spent at home and had no effect on time spent in groceries and pharmacies. Considering that this was a result of a 18·75% reduction in hours where people were allowed to leave home, it seems that the early evening curfew led to more crowding in indoor spaces – which may facilitate the spread of disease.
Interpretation: We demonstrate that non-pharmaceutical interventions against the Covid-19 pandemic - such as curfews - may lead to an increase in crowding, rather than the intended decrease of it. Policy must take into account the human behavioural response in substitution of activities to prevent harmful consequences of such interventions.
Conflict of Interest: The authors have nothing to disclose.
Ethical Approval: We did not use any individual-level data, so ethics approval was not required.
Keywords: Covid-19; mobility; curfews; crowding; non-pharmaceutical interventions; substitution
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation