“How to restart after LockDown?”​

“How to restart after the LockDown ends?” was the title of Bea Knecht ‘s virtual Salon on Sunday April 5th. We had two hours of intense conversations about how to evolve into a sustainable “new normal” as a society and economy soon. How to “dance the Corona-Dance” safely. Together with Data Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Behavioral Economists, IT Cracks, Communication Pro’s, Simulation Experts, Psychologists, Media People, Change Facilitators and many more we were inquiring into our diverse fields of expertise, sharing insights and co-creating ideas of how to tackle this immensly complexe and uncertain challenge. We met on ZOOM for this virtual cooperation between diverse nations and professions. And we’ll continue the inclusive interaction in two weeks time.

In order to save the economy, public health system and individual wellbeing in a balanced way, we agreed that we will need to act fast, based on well informed guesses, and experiment – always ready to lock public life down again if it fails. We’ll listen to the Historians and learn from the 1920’s how society & economy recovered after the Spanish Flu. In order to speed up the learning process with Corona, we’ll run parallel “safe-to-fail” small experiments with different rule sets of loosening lock down restrictions. We’ll need to monitor human behavior as well as virus containment closely in order to learn best practices for the future. It will work safer with virus- and antibody-testing, though. We’ll experiment how to communicate and anchor step by step the changing social rules and foster cooperation with them. Trust is key. We don’t have a culture of obedience in central Europe, so we shouldn’t count on just telling people. That’s not enough. We’re not in Asia. Everybody needs to cooperate and follow somehow by free choice – well, maybe with significant sanctions if someone chooses not to conform and in doing so threatens public health and the economy with dangerous freerider behavior.

One of todays ideas of how to implement “safe-to-fail” experiments was, to have diverse loosening scenarios for cities to choose from. The communities would have local referendums on which one to implement for trial (free collective choice). The communities agree to follow the rules for a certain experimentation time and sanction those who don’t (peer pressure and individual sanctions for not cooperating). The communication before the referendums would offer a great experimentation platform for testing diverse narratives and their effect on choice making in public. That’s how we’d learn two things at once: which loosening model works better and which storytelling supports the choice for that very model.

Another idea grew out the fact that Corona spreads well in public transport, as simulations for Switzerland show now. We’ll need to reduce commuting in public transport for a longer period of time and basicly allow it only for people who are immune or healthy. The same counts for all human-to-human services like hairdressers, physiotherapists and others. We called it the “Superpower”-scenario today. Only if you can make sure you’re not contagious you’re allowed to commute or approach closely. Now, that’s a very tricky one. We’ll need testing, testing, testing on one hand and on the other we’ll need devices that tell the public we’re safe to be approached or share a ride with. For those who are familiar with GDPR, that sounds like a nightmare. It can be solved in a GDPR conform way, though, we’ve been reassured in our conversation. And it would allow to inform people if they had approached someone who has been tested postive after the contact on an individual level, without government involvement. Of course this is easier to implement when you just open up all the movement data of any mobile phone user, like we can see in Asia, but it also works without hurting privacy protection of European standards. That’s good news.

But still: if you’re a desperate individual and want to go back to work again, what would hinder you from going to a Corona-Party and get infected in order to gain immunity? We don’t know. We’ll need to find out. We need to experiment, what preferenes people have: would they rather choose for indiviual health and safety or for economic advantages? Many standard economic models would suggest the latter. Behavioral Science will probably find out that depending on personality (e.g. risk aversion) and individual health (existing respiratory challenges) and economic status (can I afford?) and peer pressure the answers might differ. We need to find out, in order to know better for the future and design specific measures. That’s what science is good for: factfulness. The most safe foundation for choice making.

Another toptic in our conversation was, how we can loosen restrictions AND keep the distance between risk groups, school kids and potentially contagious people from one another at once. Our inquiry went into ideas like splitting up opening hours in shops and time slot allowances for public transport for specific focus groups like elderly and preconditioned people, introducing two shifts in schools for blended learning with contact and remote times mixed.

We’ve only quickly touched a most vital area of attention in todays conversation: the digitization of the health care system. WE NEED IT NOW – Period. Fortunately in Switzerland we’ll have two new leaders in the government responsible for healthcare and infectious diseases and all hopes are on them to allow for change. And solutions. We’ll need data and information by the hour about how and where the virus is spreading and about antibody test results, if we want to implement most health effective and at the same time economy saving measures. A.S.A.P = As Soon As Possible.

So far so good for April 5th. If you want to join the conversation about solutions – be it virtually in written or personally online, please make yourself visible to us. Your comments are most welcome, so are your contributions in life talks. And it’s absolutely fine if you just want to read and listen, too. We’re happy if we can inspire you and help cristallizing the notion of a sustainable “new normal” worthwhile living in. Stay healthy – stay at home meanwhile.

Esther-Mirjam de Boer/