Covid-19 contagion, economic activity and business reopening protocols
Abstract: This paper studies the impact of sanitary protocols aimed at reducing the contagion by Covid-19 during the production and consumption of goods and services. We augment a heterogeneous SIR model with a two-way feedback between contagion and economic activity, allowing for firm and sector heterogeneity. While protocols are a burden for firms (especially SMEs), they may enhance economic activity by avoiding infections that reduce the labor supply. Using Chilean data, we calibrate the model and assess the impact of recommended firm protocols on contagion and economic activity in the after-lockdown period. Our quantitative results suggest that: (i) A second wave of infections is likely in the absence of protocols; (ii) Protocols targeted at some sectors can reduce deaths while at the same time improving economic conditions; (iii) Protocols applied widely have a negative effect on the economy. We also find that applying strict protocols to a few sectors is generally preferable to applying milder protocols to a larger number of sectors, both in terms of health and economic benefits.