The French President has declared his country is at “war” with COVID-19. During a televised address to the nation on 16 March, Emmanuel Macron said that defeating COVID-19 would require a “call to arms”:

Believe me when I say, I know that what I’m asking you is unprecedented. But the circumstances demand it. War are at war. Certainly, in a healthcare war. We are not fighting an army, nor are we fighting another nation. But the enemy is here – invisible, elusive, it progresses. It thus requires a call to arms. We are at war.

Across the world, governments are introducing measures considered absolutely extraordinary during peacetime. In Europe, both Spain and Italy are currently under full lockdown. Schools have been shuttered, either nationally or locally, in every single EU Member State. Museums, galleries, bars, café and restaurants are being ordered closed in most countries. Borders are being shut and travel restrictions put into place.

Parts of the economy are being redirected to increase healthcare capacity. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is asking manufacturers to switch their production lines to making ventilators. The luxury goods giant LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, has announced it will shift its perfume production lines to hand sanitiser for French hospitals.

Local support groups are organising on social media. Volunteers are rallying to help people self-isolating by delivering groceries and medicine, walking dogs, or offering other assistance. In Wales, the health spokesperson for the Local Government Association has said councils will “arrive at a position where we will want to call on an army of volunteers”.

Individuals are being asked to make sacrifices for the greater good. The Irish Health Service Executive says the most at-risk groups are the elderly, those with weak immune, or those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure. Social distancing measures are being implemented in many countries to ease pressure on healthcare systems (which everybody needs access to), and to help protect the most vulnerable groups in society.

However, many governments are worried about public fatigue with restrictions on normal life. How much disruption are people willing to accept? Do they see the reasons for changing our behaviour so radically in such a short space of time? How long can such measures be maintained?

How many freedoms are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good? Will the public get fatigued with lengthy restrictions on normal life? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) AngelinaBambina

43 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Italy allowed the spread of the virus because it didn’t limit the rights of its citizens temporarily in time. All rights should be limited for now except the right to life, the right not to be tortured and the right of food of course. Ben Franklin once said that you will lose both freedom and security if you choose the latter over the first but apparently he didn’t live in time of plague. If you choose freedom over security you will not have anything because you could be seriously ill and even not alive. So everyone stay at home and stay safe

  2. avatar

    Having enough gravitas to accordingly understand a grave situation and acting responsibly does not mean we are sacrificing our freedoms. On the contrary – it means we are exercising them in the most sensible and virtuous way possible.

  3. avatar

    One should be freed FROM underpaid jobs, long hours, night shifts, working Sundays, poor infrastructure, car-congested cities and towns, polluted air, seas and rivers, and fraud, especially those ingrained in dealings with airline companies, insurance, financial services, telecoms… For starters…

  4. avatar

    At this moment, freedom of circulation.

  5. avatar
    Return the 80s movement

    Are you asking me to get RFDI Chip implant and welcome New world order ? :D

  6. avatar

    We are in lockdown . We will stay until it is lifted . Better to stay in than be dead or very ill

  7. avatar

    The greater good starts with European border control

    • avatar

      Theirs no need for that

  8. avatar

    Isn’t this the most perverse way to formulate a question?!

  9. avatar

    Why should it ever be a matter of sacrificing freedoms to reach greater good? A responsible exercise of one’s freedoms is what leads to maximum good, not a sacrifice! Teach citizens to be socially-responsible adults and their freedoms will shine in their demonstration of SELF-CONTROL and successful EMOTION-REGULATION. No need for sacrifices if you bother raising people right…

  10. avatar

    Everyone could say or write the best things in the world, words never read or heard about before, the real question is, how much are you truly willing to give? How much you are honest with yourself? And the answer for this particular question is to be seen not to be read or heard, action not words

  11. avatar

    I think it is the EU that needs to sacrifice for the greater good. 1) No more shengen free-travel until it is accompanied by a coronavirus-free health certificate-permanently. 2) No more travel between countries without a coronavirus-free health certificate-permanently. Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere. It will keep appearing now it has established itself in human hosts.

  12. avatar

    I am not willing to sacrifice, LIBERTY.

    • avatar

      Selfish. Without the collective good, no individual can survive. Look at Syria and Afghanistan, when the state are under attack, people are dying and fleeing their home to foreign countries. Look at what happen at the border of Poland. These poor refugees do not have enough warm clothes and Polish soldiers and police are using water cannon against them. This can kill the poor refugees. Think of yourself being refugees, you would treasure having a powerful state which you can seek protection.

  13. avatar

    Well I suppose I could be persuaded to sacrifice a couple of the two thousand toilet rolls I currently have stuffed in my garage.

  14. avatar

    Cutting on freedom versus increasing individual sense of sustainable and ethical responsibility!! I opt for the latter.

  15. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    What freedoms are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good?

    We British had a unified country of satisfied free people. Politicians decided we needed change, disruption, loss of personal choice, imposed thought leading to dysfunction. Were we willing to sacrifice what we had? Was never advised of the intended change or asked for permission to make it so.

  16. avatar

    I think that Europe ought to be very careful. As evidence show that many infected people have never been travelling outside their own country not to say visiting China. When research has confirmed that the epicenter of China has found only 3 families of the virus, while 5 families of the virus were found from the US in February when the US had very limited infection as claimed. When the Chinese were blocked from traveling outside their own provinces, the Americans were still travelling all over the world as the US Congress inquiry had already confirmed that some of the deceased of the 2019 American flu are died of coronavirus openly, this is a classic example that discrimination and labeling without scientific support is highly dangerous in this global era when virus has no national boundary

  17. avatar

    Well, it is time to rethink over what is our real threat. Apparently, threat from virus is more terrorizing than terrorism. In a global era, threat does not necessarily come from communism, socialism, Chinese, Russians, Muslims or military ones as the Americans have always been talking about. Unrestrained freedom and liberty, over emphasis on the conflicting aspect of democracy is detrimental. In a global era when national boundaries are demolished, when national identity blurred and people have multiple identities, confrontation must be abandoned. What is the characteristics of the global era? Please take note that interdependent and interconnected are typical description of nations and people in this global era. Only system that goes with the trend of the era can survive.

  18. avatar

    China is using technology to fight coronavirus. People have an app on their phone tracking location and health data, and it indicates their risk level as green, yellow, or red. We could use similar technology in Europe to fight the virus.

  19. avatar

    During this pandemic, we can only choose to sacrifice freedoms or lives! Modern society, modern era (of post-modernity) marks the connectivity and interdependence of people and countries, too much freedoms would only lead to chaos and anarchism…According to Jean Jacques Rousseau, there are positive and negative freedoms. Modern societies have law and order to protect liberty and well-beings of members who are obliged to sacrifice some freedom in exchange for liberty. Freedom therefore cannot be absolute in modern societies i.e. societies of higher level civilization… It is a choice of life and death or precisely there is no choice, particularly, if it involves other people’s life and death.

  20. avatar

    One thing that must happen with all restrictions, taxes and regulations – they must apply equally to every citizen and organization. It has been too easy for some to escape equality and for too many to suffer unnecessarily. The folks at the top of the money pyramid have huge amounts of cash. Whilst those at the lower levels struggle for the basics. It does not have to be this way. We can have an everyone world. If we wanted it. X

  21. avatar

    It’s a myth that you can sacrifice freedom and liberties for security or the greater good

  22. avatar

    None. Freedoms were gained through sacrifices,blood and tears. Humanitarian, cultural and political backtracking should not even be a question posed to your website. If you do tests on a massive scale, quarantine the infected until healed, educate people on personal hygiene(since their parents did not), provide PPE…. Lives will be saved, life will go on, human rights and civil liberties will not have to be infringed anymore. That simple.

  23. avatar

    Its not a sacrifice, it’s an investment like an insurance.

  24. avatar

    Tricking question……. freedom is the greater good

  25. avatar

    Nothing. There are no goods as precious as freedom.

    • avatar

      No individual good exists without the collective goods being secured. So, the greater good is at higher priority than individual good in human society. The human species can survive without sharp teeth and claws like animal because we human beings are social animals and we are rational beings and we know the way to survive in the jungle is to use collective strength for collective security. This is the founding principle of the EU.

  26. avatar

    What kind of question is that ? Why should one give up on freedom for the greater good ?

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Hi Pedro, how about giving up the freedom to go out to help reduce the spread of coronavirus so that fewer people get infected and die?

    • avatar

      May be people decide they stay at home because they don’t want to get infected and not necessarily because they don’t want to infect other people ? It has nothing to do with the greater good, but with the very personal self protection may be ? Some of your questions look like there is only black and white down here …

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      we’re a debating platform, hence the deliberately provocative questions.

  27. avatar

    I’m willing to wear my mask, stay home, not see friends, etc. I even volunteered my time at a church getting food to kids who rely on school lunches. What I’m not willing to do is lose my livelihood and my possessions and home due to the loss of income from everything being shut down. Where is the line drawn? Who’s going to protect us?

  28. avatar

    In China, it is talking also freedom not to take the vaccine. In order to hold individual responsibility, it is talking about people rejected to take the vaccine without reason, once they are infected by the Covid, they have to pay for all their medical treatment. It is because no medical insurance is willing to pay for. Besides, if people rejected the vaccine and infected others, they might be facing civilian claim by victims being infected. These can clearly show the founding social and legal formation of modern society particularly democracy which talking all the time freedom, liberty and rule of law. Individual freedom and liberty must be subordinate to law and order when the greater good is threatened.

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