We Need a Word Other Than “Lockdown”

A frustrating thing over the last month has been some poor public health messaging. In fairness, I think it’s finally sunk into a lot of people’s heads that you need TO WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS! (Sure, it took a fucking pandemic to make that happen, but take it where you can get it, I suppose). But there are so many phrases that are confusing people floating around, one of which is lockdown, along with its co-traveler, shelter-in-place. Lockdown implies that the only activities allowed outside of your domicile are getting food (groceries), medicines, and medical treatment (which is what much of Italy is under), as well as travel for essential personnel. However, none of the so-called lockdowns or lockdown proposals in the U.S. call for this.

Whether or not the proposals should go that far is a separate question, but most ‘lockdowns’ allow people to leave their homes for exercise* and to get takeout/delivery food (in addition to the activities listed above). What the term does though is confuse people and get their backs up–it’s the exact same term used when confining prisoners to their cells. Shelter-in-place isn’t much better–that’s what you’re supposed to do during a hurricane or tornado. Instead, consider listing what we should and shouldn’t do without a catchy term, or else come up with a different term, perhaps one that incorporates the word restriction**.

*And could we prohibit running/jogging on city sidewalks where it’s very difficult to maintain six feet of separation to begin with? Vigorous exhalation on the sidewalk by walkers would be frowned on, so let’s not do this.

**Curated activities. We make the funny.

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5 Responses to We Need a Word Other Than “Lockdown”

  1. Nita Jain says:

    How about slowdown? It connotes the fact that we are limiting our daily activities to just the bare essentials while still acknowledging the fact that basic freedoms necessary for sustenance remain in place.

  2. Becca says:

    Here in Indiana we are under “stay home” orders by the Governor. I joked that Hoosiers might not be bright enough to understand “shelter in place”. That said, for all I know, maybe we just have a different set of guidelines for this scenario than we do for e.g. a tornados, which I’m pretty sure is the strongest “shelter in place” disaster most of us are used to preparing for.

  3. Wendy says:

    The term I’ve liked that I hear is “stay at home order” or there about.

    Never liked lockdown due to the prison meaning and its not supposed to have meaning outside of that context.

  4. Laurie says:

    Contact restriction ?

  5. Camille says:

    Minnesota’s Governor Walz talked about “Smart Mitigation” when he announced his order.

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