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Shmueli et al. (on-going): The Day after the Coronavirus: Multidisciplinary and Comparative Research on Exit Strategies and Recovery

On-going research

This research has three stages:

Stage A (completed June, 2020): What Can We Learn from East Asian and Other Countries

Prof. Deborah Shmueli, Prof. Eran Vigoda-Gadot, Prof. Eli Salzberger, Prof. Shlomo Mizrahi, Prof. Michal Shamai, Dr. Maya Negev Dr. Alex Altshuler and Dr. Michal Ben Gal from the University of Haifa; Prof. Hagai Levin and Prof. Eran Feitelson from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; and Prof. Pnina Plaut from the Technion


Successful management of emergencies is a function of preparedness which includes having legal and institutional infrastructure in place and regularly maintained. Thus the most meaningful lessons for emergency preparedness do not pertain to specific policies, but to institutional and decision-making procedures. We term this governance learning. AS COVID-19 was preceded by SARS and MERS pandemics, we ask to what extent have lessons from those episodes been learned and implemented during the first wave of COVID-19, and to what extent does the source affect governance learning: from a polity's failures in previous episodes of the same disaster type; from the experience of other polities with regard to the same type of disaster; or by cross-hazard learning - transferring lessons learned from experience with other types of disasters. To assess which types of governance learning occurred we analyze the experience of four East-Asian polities that were previously directly affected by SARS/MERS: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong-Kong. Their experience is compared with that of Israel. Having faced other emergencies but not SARS/MERS, Israel could potentially learn from its experience with other emergencies, or from the experience of others with regard to pandemics before the onset of COVID-19.

Abstract (Hebrew):
Report (Hebrew):

See publication: 
Feitelson, E., Plaut, P., Salzberger, E., Shmueli, D., Altshuler, A., Amir, S. Ben Gal, M., 2022. "Learning from Others’ Disasters? A Comparative Study of SARS/MERS and COVID-19 Responses in Five Polities", International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Vol. 74,  102913,

Stage B: (ongoing) Can Well-being Effects of COVID-19 be Mitigated Amidst an Economic Crisis?

Prof. Eran Feitelson, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Prof. Pnina Plaut and Smadar Amir, the Technion; Prof. Deborah Shmueli, Prof. Eli Salzberger, Dr. Alex Altshuler and Dr. Michal Ben Gal, University of Haifa

Analyses of the effects of COVID-19 tend to focus on the health and economic implications of the pandemic. Yet, it is clear that there are wider effects, such as effects on social relations, stress, livelihood and effects on the environment. As is increasingly recognized, the GDP per capita is an insufficient measure to assess the state of countries and citizens within them (Stiglitz et al., 2009). Hence well-being is increasingly promoted as measures to assess the state of countries and citizens, and as a basis for policy decision-making. In particular the OECD (2017) advanced a set of 39 indicators for well-being. Similarly, since 2016, the Israeli CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) has published a yearly report of “Quality of life, sustainability and resilience”, based on 114 criteria in 11 fields (employment, personal safety, health, housing and infrastructure, education and skills, civic engagement and governance, environment, personal and social welfare, material standard of living, leisure, culture and community and information technologies). 

This research aims to identify the well-being criteria that are influenced by and influence the Coronavirus crisis, analyze these effects in the Israeli arena, identify policy measures that may have a positive influence on well-being, and suggest “policy packages” that may reduce negative influence and enable better life with the virus.
The first part of the study was conducted in collaboration with IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) as part of the agreement between the Government of Israel and IIASA, in which the possible effects of aiding systems analysis were identified.

See publication:
Feitelson, E., Plaut, P., Salzberger, E., Shmueli, D., Altshuler, A., Ben Gal, M., Israel, F., Rein-Sapir, Y., Zaychek, D., 2022. "The Effects of COVID-19 on Wellbeing: evidence from Israel", Sustainability, Special Issue "Economic and Social Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic", Vol. 14, 3750.

Stage C: (completed November 2020) Exit Strategies from Severe Restrictions to Daily Routine and Living with the Coronavirus - The European Experience

Prof. Deborah Shmueli, University of Haifa; Prof. Eran Feitelson, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; and Prof. Pnina Plaut, the Technion


About three months after leaving the first quarantine imposed in Israel following the Corona epidemic, the State was forced to enter a second quarantine following a second wave of virus infections. The intensity of the second wave was tens of times higher than that of the first.

In order to curb the spread of the virus, many countries around the world including Israel, had been forced to enter a lockdown at the beginning of the epidemic, and some have managed to avoid another closure over a relatively long period of time. The assumption underlying this study is that success in delaying or preventing a second quarantine depends on the process of exiting the quarantine that preceded it and the ability to maintain a low level of morbidity over time.

This report focuses on the lockdown exit strategies from the first quarantine and the subsequent management of life in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Greece - four countries in Europe that have similarities to Israel in size (Austria, Greece and Switzerland), in culture and climate (Italy and Greece) and with regard to the complexity of the challenge. In the short term and contrary to Israel, in all four countries, the exit from the first wave did not lead to a second wave and another closure.

The study examined the policy principles that underpinned the process of lockdown exit, the way in which policies were implemented in various sectors of the economy, and the economic, health and socio-community response given in each country with regard to each easement. In addition, we examined the testing and monitoring procedures, and impacts of the policies on the health system and public trust. Four important policy principles:

  • Professionals (not politicians) must manage the fight against the epidemic and the decision-making process
  • The exit policy must be clear and multi-staged (3-4 stages)
  • Data must be highly transparent and presented to the public in a reliable, direct and clear manner, and decisions data-driven
  • Most of the decision-making should take place at the sub-state level, where enforcement is largely the responsibility of the localities and heads of institutions (who have the appropriate tools for the task).

Stages of return to activity in the various sectors: public transport continued to operate non-stop (during lockdown) in all countries; trade was opened at a relatively early stage, and the educational institutions at a later stage, with the exception of early childhood institutions. In Switzerland, assistance is provided for the opening of day care centers and a special childcare frameworks provided for the children of vital workers.

Economic response: in all countries emphasis was placed on maintaining jobs and grants for the self-employed, tax relief and deferral of payments. In addition, special financial support was provided for families with small children.

Health-care response: various types of assistance were provided to the health-care systems, such as increasing the number of intensive care beds and expanding corona wards in hospitals, and increasing the number of nurses and improving the infrastructure of the health and nursing systems in general. In Switzerland, the army was also recruited to assist at hospitals. In Austria and Switzerland where the health- care infrastructure was strong pre-epidemic, there was no need to reinforce intensive care beds. Hotlines in the field of mental health have been opened in Austria.

Civil society is very active in all countries and has played a significant role in dealing with the crisis. In some cases, important participation of civil society organizations with government officials are highlighted.

With the exception of Greece, in the rest of the country, continuous and transparent monitoring of the infected is done, as well as voluntary monitoring through various applications.

In all countries there has been a general increase in public trust in the government. Preliminary insights that can be deduced for Israel:

  • Exit process must be clearly communicated, transparent and gradual
  • Decision-making process should be led by professionals
  • Delegation of significant aspects of the decision-making to the local level who should incorporate civil society networks. Delegation of enforcement powers to localities and heads of institutions and organizations
  • Public transportation can be left operative (perhaps while increasing frequency and lowering congestion)
  • Government support to maintain jobs and prevent leave without pay; provision of effective assistance to the self-employed
  • Provide operating frameworks for early childhood care, whether in kindergartens or with the help of babysitters
  • Opening of businesses are a priority; full opening of the education system follows
  • Mental health should be addressed (as is done in Israel)
  • Timeliness and transparent management increases public trust. Data-driven decisions and their transmission to the public in a reliable, direct and clear manner is critical.

Report (Hebrew):