A Year of Living Distantly: Trends in the Use of Stay-at-Home Orders Over the First 12 Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic
14 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 2021
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) were the main pillar of defense to protect human society against the virus. While a variety of modeling studies try to quantify the effects of NPIs, this paper investigates when and how national and subnational governments take actions.
We observe longitudinal changes in the global pattern of policymaking to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on stay-at-home orders. Drawing on data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, we show several important trends. First, while national governments exhibited a strong convergence in policy settings initially in March and April 2020, their cross-country policy heterogeneity has grown since May 2020, although neighboring countries often continue to display similarities in their approaches. Second, most governments that have implemented multiple stay-at-home orders over the course of the pandemic have become less sensitive to case levels (insofar as they implement subsequent restrictions at progressively higher case levels), apart from a small number of contrast cases which have mostly eliminated domestic community transmission. Third, pandemic policy decisions are increasingly made at subnational levels, however there is significant heterogeneity with regards to decision-making approaches even within the same country.
Note: Funding Statement: This paper did not receive any direct funding from any source
Declaration of Interests: None of the authors have competing interests to declare.
Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Policy, Lockdown, Government, Subnational, Stay-at-Home
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