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The mayor of Moscow recently ordered all Muscovites older than 65 to stay at home. This idea of restrictions imposed on just one category of citizens — those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 — will come up a lot more now that the second wave is here. To put it bluntly: Should we lock down older people, or is that like locking them up, and thus unethical?

This isn’t meant to be a “modest proposal” in the tradition of Swiftian satire. We need to discuss our options, because going back into general lockdowns isn’t one. Renewed shutdowns wouldn’t be accepted by the population. They’d crush our traumatized economies and cause so much second-order suffering that an honest accounting against the relative harm from COVID-19 would become elusive.

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