The lockdown has to be effective if we want to get its benefits. Recovery from an illness is not possible if adulterated drugs are used for treatment. Similarly, coronavirus infections cannot be reduced if the lockdown is not effective.
A disruptive situation in the name of lockdown will arise if some operations remain open while others are kept closed.
Those who will keep businesses and factories closed during such a lockdown will lose their livelihoods. The health risks of people shutting down their businesses will not be minimised as others will go out of house.
The main implication of the lockdown is an increase in pressure on the health sector. There are no empty hospital beds and the situation is the same in intensive care units. Hospitals are struggling to deal with Covid-19 patients.
When this is the case, the health situation will get out of control if infections cannot be reduced quickly through drastic measures. If strict measures are not imposed, this situation will continue.
In this situation, if a semi-effective lockdown is enforced, infections will not go down. On the other hand, a confusion will arise in the name of lockdown.
Those who will obey, or be forced to do so, will face a double whammy.
If the medicine is adulterated, it is better not to take that.
In this situation, we have to think about alternatives to lockdown.
Entrepreneurs in the garment sector want to keep their factories open in compliance with hygiene rules. If the lockdown cannot be enforced entirely, those who want to keep factories open in accordance with health rules can be allowed to do so.
But the implementation of health safety rules must be strictly monitored by the government. If factories do not follow the rules, export incentives or other benefits should be cancelled, fines should be levied, or factories should be closed.
If a factory lays off workers while complying with hygiene rules, the government will have to take some responsibility. Even then, factories must not be allowed to continue production without following hygiene rules.
If a factory becomes the epicentre of the virus during the current crisis, the onus will be on its owner. To prevent that from happening, masks, sanitation, and social distancing have to be ensured.
The government needs to be stricter about enforcing health rules for the common people. If there was a possibility that a strict lockdown would reduce infections, people might accept the temporary financial losses to be caused by the restriction.
Finally, it would not be right to initiate something that cannot be done. It will not be right to impose a lockdown if it cannot be fully enforced. In this case, as an alternative, it is necessary to emphasise adherence to health rules.
Zahid Hossain is the former Lead Economist at World Bank's Dhaka office