City Policy Responses: Tackling Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Tuesday, 7 April, 2020

7 April 2020 - As COVID-19 continues to spread through cities around the world, with a devastating impact on local communities and the wellbeing of residents, local governments have also been at the frontline of combating the outbreak. Most national governments are taking the lead to minimize the spread of the virus,and cities are complementing these measures to respond to COVID-19 policy challenges on the ground.

In many countries, the role of cities has been two-fold:

  • They have been implementation vehicles of nation-wide measures such as the confinement, thanks to their enforcement capacity (e.g. municipal police) or their local prerogatives (e.g. closure of public parks and gardens);
  • They have been experimenting more bottom-up, innovative responses while resorting to technology or other resources and building on their unique proximity to citizens (e.g. special attention to vulnerable groups).

The OECD is collecting policy responses in cities experiencing the outbreak to help other cities prepare for the spread of the virus. Based on desk research and selected contributions by focal points of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative8, this note explores how cities around the world, in close coordination with national governments, are working to protect their residents, halt the spread of the virus and protect their local economies during these unprecedented times. The examples collected from several dozen cities (accessible in Annex A) are clustered into six categories of policy responses, which have been deployed at varying degrees depending on the level of advancement of the pandemic:

  • Communication and awareness-raising
  • Workplace practices and commuting patterns
  • Social distance and confinement
  • Targeted measures for vulnerable groups
  • Local service delivery, notably water and waste
  • Support for business and economic recovery