Businesses could start reopening in weeks — but we have to meet these five criteria first

“Earlier this week the World Health Organization identified six criteria that should be in place before countries consider relaxing physical distancing measures: that transmission of the virus is controlled; the health system has the capacity to detect, test, isolate and treat every new case and trace every contact; outbreak risks are minimized in vulnerable settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes; preventive measures are put in place in schools and workplaces; importation risks can be managed; and that communities are “fully educated, engaged and empowered” to adjust to the new norm.”

“When and how restrictions are lifted could have major ramifications on public health and the economy for years to come. We asked epidemiologists and economists to identify the conditions that should be in place to ensure the best outcome.

“Let’s try to do it as soon as we can,” said University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman. “But let’s get our ducks in a row before we do it.”

Sustained decline in new infections

Widespread testing and contact tracing

A gradual reopening

Regional coordination

Public support”

““You set really clear, easy to understand criteria based on the science around a low level of infectiousness, a low level of untracked spread, and once you get down to that level you say, ‘We’re at a point now where we feel we have this under control,’ and people expect things will open up from there.”

This way people have confidence that the decision is evidence-based and not politicized.

“Nobody has to doubt that the population’s health is kept in mind.””