To stop the spread of the coronavirus, governments ordered over 3.9 billion people, more than half of the people on the planet, to stay home and practice social distancing. So far, the orders seem to have helped slow the spread of the virus and reduce the number of deaths. But the orders have also put open and democratic societies in a bind.

The governments of open societies now find themselves in the precarious position of having to decide what their citizens can and cannot do. And of course it’s not easy for citizens either—we are not used to governments curtailing our personal freedom. With the negative social and economic effects mounting, maintaining the social distancing marathon in open societies is going to be a challenge.

The good news is that up until now, people in most open societies have complied with the social distancing measures.

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