Governments should promote a Health Pledge for the safe lifting of COVID-19 measures

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Governments are announcing and implementing exit strategies for relaxing coronavirus-related economic lockdowns that rely on testing and tracing, without properly examining the weaknesses in both strategies.

That means we are in for a very long haul. Universal and rigid lockdown will progressively prove unsustainable. The damage to the economy, to public services and the third sector, and to individual wellbeing will be incalculable.

There is a better way. It involves treating citizens like responsible adults.

One way to do this is to create a legally valid Health Pledge which enables a person to demonstrate in a trustworthy way that they don’t have the virus. This would help families, employers, the health service, voluntary organisations and governments to allow association on the basis of actual evidence and not by blanket imposition. It would safeguard us against infectious disease beyond coronavirus while enabling us to lead more normal lives.

The coronavirus crisis teaches us that we need to be accountable for our health to others around us. A Health Pledge with legal consequences for wilful misstatement protects privacy better than track-and-trace, and allows people with low risk profiles to quickly return to a more normal existence. Employers and schools can then make reasonable adjustments to their operations, stratified by risk and tailored to their circumstances, to reduce the chance of dangerous spread of infectious disease. The local and tailored actions of many individuals and groups can control the effect of the virus at less social and economic cost than can any of the one-size-fits-all pandemic control measures currently in use.

This is a global problem. We are calling on governments to step back from the kinds of privacy-invasive solutions currently being pursued, and to consider whether the Health Pledge approach, perhaps supplemented by systems or technologies for the consented verification of pledges, isn't better aligned with international values of human dignity, autonomy, and social responsibility. Notably, this approach can be paper-based and does not necessarily require a technological solution.

In the meantime it is important to examine carefully the implications of all components of the exit strategy for their implications on our civil liberties and human rights.

You can read more about our idea in the white paper that is available for download at the Frontfoot Campaign website.

Together we can create solutions to this pandemic that are risk-based and built on prevention rather than cure.

The Frontfoot Campaign

Your support for our message will help society get on the front foot with this pandemic, and provide us with new tools to prevent future ones.