Covid-19 Green Zoning

A method to halt the spread of Covid-19 and restore safe mobility — with Miquel Oliu-Barton

During the Covid-19 pandemic I have been able to contribute to policy. Elements of Green Zoning have first been adopted by France and Spain in April 2020, subsequently by several other countries and by the European Union (13 October, see plan here, map here, and update here).

The Green Zoning strategy is an alternative to blanket lockdowns and offers a viable exit strategy. It is based on four key principles that can be applied to a single country or a group of countries:


First ECDC map on 16 October 2020

  1. Divide each country into smaller zones (for example, states, regions, provinces, or economic commuting zones).
  2. Label zones green or red based on common, objective criteria, depending on whether the virus is under control or not (low case numbers, functional test/trace).
  3. Adopt public health measures depending on the colour of the zones (and finer differentiations).
  4. Allow travel between green zones, but limit other travel as much as possible (for example, require a negative test or a seven-day quarantine when travelling from a red to a green zone).

Green zones thus form a safe network where life can progressively return to normal. Red zones, on the contrary, need to be supported to halt the spread of virus, protect the population, and turn green as soon as possible.

Key publications (see full list here)

Green zoning: an effective policy tool to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Policy (2021)
Turning Europe’s Green Zoning strategy into a success (see also VoxEU)

Op-ed:  Aiming for zero Covid-19: Europe needs to take action with a group of international scientists, published by Bruegel, de Volkskrant, El Pais, la Repubblica, Le Monde, Rzeczpospolita, Süddeutsche Zeitung

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