NBER Working Paper No. 27441
Issued in June 2020, Revised in July 2020
This paper was revised on July 6, 2020
We study optimal dynamic lockdowns against Covid-19 within a commuting network. Our framework integrates canonical spatial epidemiology and trade models, and is applied to cities with varying initial viral spread: Seoul, Daegu and NYC-Metro. Spatial lockdowns achieve substantially smaller income losses than uniform lockdowns, and are not easily approximated by simple centrality-based rules. In NYM and Daegu—with large initial shocks—the optimal lockdown restricts inflows to central districts before gradual relaxation, while in Seoul it imposes low temporal but large spatial variation. Actual commuting responses were too weak in central locations in Daegu and NYM, and too strong across Seoul.