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As cities seek to bounce forward through the health, economic and social crisis, how can cities balance reopening while keeping their communities safe?
The COVID-19 pandemic is not having a one-time impact on cities. With no vaccine available, new waves of infection are forcing cities to constantly balance efforts to flatten the curve of infections, challenging efforts to open up business and establish a new post-crisis normal. Evidence shows that premature easing of lockdown measures can lead to contagion spikes, and in many cities containment and social distancing, may currently be the main option available to avoid severe ICU health crises in urban areas.
Dr. Maurice Kugler of the Schar School of Public Policy at George Mason University proposes Six Exit Strategies, which explore the full gambit of options available to cities in this transition period, recognising that one size does not fit all and cities should be prepared for different scenarios. The onus behind coming up with different exit strategies is to balance the two imperatives each city faces: saving lives and saving livelihoods. While extended lockdowns may save lives by avoiding community spread, they have the negative effect of causing large-scale economic damage. Dr. Kugler believes that there are two preconditions to any phase out of lockdown: a reproduction number less than 1 (R0 < 1) and a robust contact tracing scheme.
In Bogota, in easing off, the city has set up criteria across health, economic and mobility aspects and includes various indicators such as ICU capacity, availability of economic relief for poor households and the occupancy rate of the public transport system. It is also creating Special Care Zones (SCZ) that are areas with high epidemiological risk, due to greater movement of passengers, more households with comorbidities, and infections. Intensive action is taking place in the SCZs in order to ensure that the disease does not spread again.
Buenos Aires “Switch On” is the city’s Reversal Plan of adopted measures in unlocking the city and its economy through sector by sector protocol to help in the reestablishment of activities, staggered reversal of measures carried out during the crisis according to level of urgency, priority and economic impact and meticulous management of sectors as they begin to operate again. Therefore, the reopening could limit the increase to health risks while slowly building the trust so that economic activity can function properly .
In Medellin, Colombia, the Government of Antioquia, in Colombia, has used a scenario planning methodology based on the City Resilience Framework to better understand how to strategically plan its response and recovery from the pandemic of COVID-19
The city of Pune, India, has taken a place based approach introducing door-to-door health interventions in hotspot areas, including COVID testing, hygiene products, and medical and nutritional support, and creating integrated teams of police, medical staff and community engagement officers for this hotspot areas.
How to: Hear from RMS on how which interventions will be most effective in living with COVID-19 from Cities on the Frontline #11 – Pandemic Resilient Cities
Lesson: Learn more from session #12 Unlocking Bogota on how Bogota planning to easing off
Opinion: Climbing Out of “Lockdown”: The Great Restart – For the next stage of the epidemics, governments will need a new class of model for optimizing the set of actions to best restart the economy with increased social distancing.
How to: Scenario Planning for critical events using City Resilience Framework Medellin – The Government of Antioquia, in Colombia, has used a scenario planning methodology to better understand how to strategically plan its response and recovery from the pandemic of COVID-19
Opinion: Cities, crowding, and the coronavirus: Predicting contagion risk hotspots – The World Bank has developed a methodology that can be rapidly deployed to help city leaders prioritize resources towards places with the highest exposure and contagion risk.
How to: Bucharest school reopening. Bucharest is looking at three different scenarios in-person, hybrid mode and fully digital. In any scenario, the most vulnerable – Roma, SEN, disabilities and poor- will be prioritized with digital equipment.