The governing bodies of several geographic areas hit by disease outbreaks will sometimes impose a nightly curfew on their citizens, restricting or limiting the ability of their citizens from going outside during certain hours of the night (or day). As I write this, several United States local or state governments are implementing such strategies in March 2020 to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic (Puerto Rico and Hoboken, New Jersey both have nightly curfews as of March 15, 2020).

My question is: does any data exist showing that these measures are effective, or counter-productive? My intuition is that a nightly curfew could actually accelerate the spread of an infectious disease, because citizens who have to leave their homes to do errands are all obligated to do them during a shorter time-window, thereby raising the number of people present in public places at any one time. I couldn't find any published research directly assessing the effectiveness of nightly curfews as an epidemic response strategy. (I only found articles such as this one discussing the failure of nightly curfews in Liberia during the 2014 Ebola epidemic, but those caused public rioting and low compliance). Considering how common this is frequently mentioned and attempted as an intervention strategy, what were the results? Is there any published data from real-world examples, or even results from model simulations?

  • Real-world data? You can try collecting data in your country. Compare the COVID cases in cities in which people are most compliant and those cities that are not. I myself are curious, will compare data with yours later. – kit Apr 26 at 23:14

I too was unable to find data on whether partial curfews are effective. I presume that the premise is that you keep the country running as people are able to work, and you can still collect some tax revenue whereas this is not possible with a full curfew. It seems a very double edged knife.

Also, the people most likely to be out and socialising at night are the young people who are relatively immune to the fatal aspects of the disease. But they're also the ones who are most likely to be spreading it as well though current data suggests that in China it was the parents infecting the children and not the other way round.

| improve this answer | |
  • What about those who work at night as security patrol officers, railway maintenance staff etc. Night curfews stop them working and affect tax revenues and eventually with no nightly store shelf restocking, nightly maintenance work on municipal buildings, transport buildings, transportation networks etc. the country will come to a halt anyway. – Chris Rogers Mar 18 at 7:51
  • This is entirely speculative. The questions is specifically looking for evidence either in published data sets or mathematical/computer modeling – That Guy Mar 18 at 13:51
  • And I said there's no data so of course it's opinion. – Graham Chiu Mar 18 at 15:54
  • Then you shouldn't be providing an opinion, you should be leaving the question unanswered. – Mark Mar 22 at 19:12
  • 1
    Opinion is also data, just backed from clinical experience so the worst form of evidence, but still evidence. – Graham Chiu Mar 22 at 19:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.