Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider how recovery and resilience programs account for budget constraints
Resourcing and financial frameworks

Local and national governments are investing significant resources in recovery of public health, economic and employment regeneration, humanitarian assistance, among other areas. Consideration of budget constraints is crucial – for example, the OECD uses Spain as an example to highlight the dual-task: support vulnerable people and reduce public spending. Consider strategies to prevent fiscal debt following recovery from COVID-19:

  • Implement the use of subsidies for vulnerable populations during recovery
  • Promote efficient use of resources, e.g. focus on sectors most severely impacted and have strong productivity potential, such as small-medium businesses
  • Re-regulate future retirement arrangements for workers (e.g. measures such as “disincentivise early retirement”) to reduce the gap between the average labour market exit age and the statutory retirement age
  • Identify local jobs which can be targeted toward the unemployed/marginalized (e.g. infrastructure/green economy jobs created through recovery and renewal strategies) and skills development opportunities (e.g. through apprenticeships) to increase employability
  • Make public spending transparent using ICT platforms. Specify how much is spent, in which programmes, and the number of beneficiaries
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Consider the impact of COVID-19 on commuter behaviour

Although home-based working has become the norm for a large percentage of the population, many workers have had to be physically present in their usual workplace. Many who have had to travel to workplaces during the pandemic have changed their mode of transport due to potential infection risks, delays and inconvenience due to cancelled or reduced public transport - i.e. they have changed their commute from public transport to private cars or bicycles. This has reduced their travel time, especially as traffic volumes are below pre-pandemic levels. Consider:

  • That traffic congestion and the demand for parking space could increase dramatically as restrictions ease and more people opt for private transport, which may lead to increases in:
    • Infrastructure maintenance costs on roads and motorways
    • Negative environmental impacts, e.g. pollution
    • Road traffic accidents and increased risk to cyclists and pedestrians, plus loss of public space, which may reduce the number of people who choose to cycle or walk
    • Costs and challenges for freight and delivery services
  • A travel awareness communication campaign, prior to an ease of restrictions:
    • Raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable travel for improving air quality and reducing pollution
    • Promote the health and well-being benefits of 'active transport' such as cycling
    • Communicate the stringent safety measures in place on public transport to increase confidence and encourage people to travel by bus/train
  • Draw on learning from previous crises to predict likely behaviours and inform policies that are fit for purpose, e.g. following the 2008 economic crisis, increased traffic increased congestion (Madrid, Spain)
  • Expand and improve cycling and walking space and infrastructure around workplaces
  • In cities, reduce speed limits to allow pedestrians and cyclists to be more confident and allow for social distancing
  • Promote and expand schemes such as 'Cycle2Work' by removing spending caps and allowing people to by bikes through the scheme that are appropriate and relevant for them (see TMB Issue 7):
    • Introduce a reimbursement scheme to reward cycling commuters, e.g. Netherlands offer 0.19 cent (euro) per kilometre cycled to work, or interest-free loans to purchase bikes
    • Trial an e-bike hire scheme in cities, e.g. Leicester (UK)
  • Review congestions charge policies and assess if they are appropriate for post-COVID activity
  • Introduce new policies, e.g. workplace parking levy, a charge on employers who provide workplace parking (Nottingham City Council, UK)
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Consider how to manage COVID-19 in prisons (amnesties and inmate volunteers)
Vulnerable people

Prisons are high risk environments as places of close physical proximity[1]. Persistent overcrowding[2], close living spaces, and staff moving in and out, make social distancing and the isolation and management of any contagion difficult to arrange[3]. National strategies to suppress COVID-19 should focus on reducing outbreaks within prisons, recognising that prison health is public health[4]. Coordinating evidence-based approaches to managing outbreaks of COVID-19 in prison settings can address the spread of the virus in potentially vulnerable people inside prisons and to communities where staff live[5].

In March 2020, WHO published interim guidance on how to deal with COVID-19 in prisons through a whole-of-society approach, with comprehensive guidance in the following key areas[6]:

  • Preparation - through collaborative working with health and justice sectors, local and national public health authorities, and civil protection agencies; risk assessment and continuous evaluation; action planning to mitigate risks; assessment of essential infectious control supplies such as PPE, environmental sanitation, hand hygiene and disinfection
  • Prevention - through implementation of public health guidelines, such as hand hygiene, social distancing and facemasks; monitoring of staff travelling into prisons from affected communities or who have a history of exposure; reviewing continuity and contingency plans to ensure critical functions can be delivered with reduced numbers of personnel
  • Training and Education - planned and targeted at healthcare and custodial staff, including basic disease knowledge, hand hygiene practice, respiratory etiquette, the effective use of PPE and environmental prevention measures such as cleaning and disinfection. WHO have developed several online resources and training that can support this[7]
  • Control - through robust prevention strategies; diagnostic strategies, including contact tracing, and interventions, including the environmental cleaning of health-care rooms or cells, where the management of a suspected case has taken place

A recent study identified some core challenges in managing infectious disease in prisons[8], such as:

  • Overcrowding and a lack of best practice on managing the early release of prisoners
  • Prisoners withholding symptoms for fear of stigma, leading to outbreaks
  • Limited capacity of staff and resources to facilitate isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing

Addressing overcrowding, including communicating complex policies, such as an amnesty

Governments and judiciaries globally are considering strategies to tackle overcrowding and reduce prison populations through early release and alternative incarceration for vulnerable detainees and low-risk offenders[9]. Although strongly supported by human rights groups[10] and recommended by the UN[11], COVID-19 amnesties in the Ukraine were however rejected by legislators, media, and the public. This highlights that the explanation and communication of complex policies are just as vital as their design[12]. When communicating amnesties, consider:

  • Work closely with civil society, particularly NGOs directly engaged with the public, to assess views and perceptions of amnesties, using this information to inform policy design and implementation
  • Establish a clear communication strategy to accompany all elements of the process of transitioning incarcerated persons back into society, with a tailored approach to different social and regional groups
  • Communicate informed and factual information through government and trusted civil society organisations, explaining the different elements of amnesties and their place in the larger reintegration framework to help the public feel more informed, secure and resilient

Inmate Volunteers

Irish Red Cross inmate volunteers are trained annually in Infection Control as part of the Community Based Health and First Aid Programme[13]. The activities of the inmate volunteers helped to contribute to zero positive cases amongst prisoners across the country for more than six months. Consider supporting a targeted inmate volunteer training programme to aid the management of infectious disease in prisons:

  • As part of preparation and contingency planning, train inmate volunteers and staff on infectious disease and contact tracing to support the education of prisoners and custodial staff, and efforts to control transmission
  • Train volunteers to support inmates who face mental health challenges/fears of stigma, e.g., distributing information and education packs, and supplementing support from psychologists, teachers, chaplains, and family visitation services, where these lack capacity
  • Inmate volunteers can support the establishment of prison communication strategies on COVID-19, e.g. volunteers can write newsletters that can be distributed throughout prisons each week to provide updated information and educational material regarding COVID-19. Newsletters can include services that are available for inmates, and instructions for exercises and other activities that inmates can do while isolating and in quarantine


[1] Redondo, S. et al. (2020) Corrections and Crime in Spain and Portugal during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Impact, Prevention and Lessons for the Future, Victims & Offenders, 15:7-8, 1156 – 1185, doi: 10.1080/15564886.2020. 1827108


[3] Pagano, M. (2020). COVID-19 Risk Management and Screening in the Penitentiary Facilities of the Salerno Province in Southern Italy. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), p.8033.




[7] Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control [OpenWHO online course]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020 (

[8] Beaudry, G., Zhong, S., Whiting, D., Javid, B., Frater, J. and Fazel, S., 2020. Managing outbreaks of highly contagious diseases in prisons: a systematic review. BMJ global health, 5(11), p.e003201

[9] Amnesty International (2020)





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Consider the impacts of the 'digital divide' on children's ability to learn at home during lockdown
Vulnerable people

With many schools closed, and young people adapting to learning remotely from home, access to the internet and digital devices has become imperative. As a result there is a growing divide between children who have internet access and those who do not. In Spain, disadvantaged students are 14% less likely to get online, compared to students who were not disadvantaged. Additionally, disadvantaged students in the country were without a tablet, a laptop or any way of linking into online platforms, and many disadvantaged families were not confident with technology when it was provided to them. In some cases teachers have resorted to using class WhatsApp groups, as most households had access to a mobile phone. To support online learning from home consider:

  • Training teachers, students and their families to use online platforms and technology (and not assuming that they already have those skills)
  • The availability of technology at home (e.g. mobile phones) and alternative teaching/ communication methods such as using WhatsApp
  • Partnerships with internet providers to support disadvantaged families with the cost of internet access
  • Partnering with software and technology firms to support disadvantaged children to gain access to hardware such as tablets and software
  • Donation campaigns through schools to collect old phones, laptops and tablets that can be refurbished and distributed
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Consider how long-term environmental impacts can be realised
Environmental health

This may include:

  • Reimagining how cities are built and organised e.g. Brussels is creating 40km of new cycle paths; France is providing cyclists with subsidies; UK has announced a œ2bn infrastructure scheme to encourage more walking and cycling
  • Accelerating environmentally friendly projects such as increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure

Also consider the unintended consequences of green infrastructure solutions. In the case of battery production for electric vehicles, consideration should be given to the environmental degradation caused by mining for battery components for electric vehicles, the ethical considerations of using mines in developing countries, the lifecycle of batteries and how they will be recycled in large quantities.

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