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COVID-19: the winter lockdown strategy in five European nations

Warren, George W.; Lofstedt, Ragnar; Wardman, Jamie K.

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George W. Warren

Ragnar Lofstedt

Jamie K. Wardman


European lockdown strategies over the winter of 2020 have brought into sharp relief the need for effective strategies to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission and lower the rate of hospitalisations and deaths. Understanding exactly how European nations have arrived at this point, and the process by which they have done this, is key to learning constructive lessons for future pandemic risk management. Bringing together experience from across five European nations (the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland), this paper outlines what has occurred between September 2020 and mid-January 2021. Our analysis draws out several themes important to understanding the different national risk management approaches adopted, namely: the extent to which lessons were learned or overlooked from the first wave of the pandemic; the relationship between science and policy; the speed and responsiveness of policy decisions; and differing levels of reliance on individual responsibility for safeguarding public health. Subsequently, we recommended that: there is more involvement of decision scientists and risk analysts in COVID-19 decision making, who have largely been absent thus far; the epidemiological science should be followed where possible, but when value judgments are made this should be clearly and transparently communicated; proactive measures avoiding policy delay should be followed to reduce the rate of infection and excess deaths; governments must avoid confusing or inconsistent regional implementation and communication of interventions; rebuilding public trust is key to promoting public compliance and support for COVID-19 health measures; overreliance on individual responsibility as the focus of non-pharmaceutical interventions should be avoided; public compliance with COVID-19 restrictions requires pre-tested simple messages; open and consistent engagement with local leaders and officials should become a mainstay of government eff


Warren, G. W., Lofstedt, R., & Wardman, J. K. (2021). COVID-19: the winter lockdown strategy in five European nations. Journal of Risk Research, 24(3-4), 267-293.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 5, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date May 12, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 12, 2022
Journal Journal of Risk Research
Print ISSN 1366-9877
Electronic ISSN 1466-4461
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 3-4
Pages 267-293
Keywords General Engineering; Strategy and Management; General Social Sciences; Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
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