This Briefing Note was first published on 4th May 2020. A variant of the note with very minor updates has been published in Covid Economics, and the Briefing Note itself has been amended to reflect the same updates.
Governments are starting to ease restrictions to economic activity. The risks of easing these measures too soon, or in misguided ways, are obvious, not only for public health but also for the economy. A world with no lockdown and a pandemic spreading rapidly through the population does not make for a healthy economy; nor, in all likelihood, does a world in which containment measures have to be repeatedly reinstated after being eased prematurely or in suboptimal ways. We discuss some key economic issues that the UK government needs to face when thinking about how best to get people back into work: we assemble some basic empirical evidence, identify some challenges that policymakers will need to confront, and discuss some policy considerations.