The document identifies six fundamental policy priorities which, together, constitute a framework for making all-things-considered policy decisions. These decisions must respond to immediate needs for action, but must also be taken with a view to the future (the post-COVID world). The policy decisions that frame them are not created by this pandemic: they existed before it, will persist beyond it, and constitute the reason that we care about COVID-19 and its consequences.
Available evidence suggests that South Africa’s lockdown lacks a strong evidence base, especially when compared to moderate scenarios rather than complete inaction. A one-page analysis (two-pages in the case of health) is provided for each of the following priorities.
- Food security and nutrition
- Economy and unemployment
- Vulnerable groups
- Governance and enforcement
A decision tool is offered for scoring these components to represent the impact of lockdown or other measure on that policy priority, and weighting them to represent the relative accordance afforded to e.g. health, the economy, and so on. This approach is customizable: items may be altered, added and subtracted from the list of policy priorities.
While the report writers offer their own recommendations based on the rationale encapsulated in their one-page summaries, in the end these are of secondary importance. This document is meant to support rather than prescribe to policy-makers, by enabling a decision process that makes implicit assumptions and value-judgements clear.
Our primary recommendation is that this framework be adopted, adapted and used by policy-makers for both making decisions and communicating the rationale for decisions, especially (i) decisions to allow and prohibit particular behaviours at different lockdown levels and (ii) decisions to move from one level to another.
Note on versions: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 etc denote minor corrections and updates, e.g. spelling, references, etc. Versions can be used interchangeably for all intents and purposes. Substantive new editions are marked by an increment from 1.1, 1.2 etc to 2.0, 2.1, etc.