Siddhesh Zadey, Surabhi Dharmadhikari, Pradeeksha Mukuntharaj
In recent years, autonomy and liberty-restrictive public health interventions have generated ethical debates and necessitated guidelines, and the COVID-19 movement restrictions such as lockdowns reinvigorated this ethical dilemma.
An applied ethics framework for policymakers to make quick evaluations of the ethical soundness of movement-restrictive policy decisions is urgently needed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic to be better prepared for future pandemics but is missing.
We present a novel integrated ethical principles–pragmatic considerations–measurable policy indicators framework based on an amalgamation of unique ethical principles drawn from a rigorous review of the existing literature on the ethics of movement restrictions with each ethical principle mapped to answerable questions or pragmatic considerations to subsequently generate 34 policy indicators.
We also depict ethical lapses in proportionality, utility efficiency and accountability for the largest such restriction in the COVID-19 pandemic, that is, India’s lockdown.
Our framework bridges the gap between public health ethics and policymaking in the context of movement restrictions through an easy-to-use tool that can be applied across countries to assess the ethical implications of policies in the face of ongoing and future pandemics.