Sokołowski, M.M. (2020), "Regulation in the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic times: day-watchman tackling the novel coronavirus", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-07-2020-0142
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While fighting with the novel coronavirus will not be the main goal of sectoral regulators, different regulatory authorities join the struggle by providing a regulatory response. The purpose of this paper is to address this regulatory response in pandemic gathered around eight thematic areas.
This paper discusses the regulatory response in pandemic gathered around eight thematic areas, namely, the objectives, rules and standards, authorization and permits, procedure, monitoring and surveillance, enforcement, accountability and an institution presenting regulatory actions to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) in reference to day-watchman type regulation.
Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic should be a knowledge-based approach (taking as much as possible from best available practices with respect to the novel coronavirus) with a framework of rules, standards, authorization, permits and guidance, monitored and enforced in a way adjusted to conditions of the pandemic, being as safe (as non-physical, as online) as possible, with suspended or extended deadlines, free of unnecessary administrative burdens. In this way, regulation should be pragmatic and flexible, as under the day-watchman model.
In a post-pandemic regime, in the short run, the regulators should try to minimize the social and economic challenges faced by consumers and entrepreneurs. Among them, one may find scaling back, at least temporarily, the rules developed in non-disaster contexts. However, in the end, the post-disaster reforms tended to strengthen regulators’ hands, also under the deregulated government. The day-watchman type regulation balances both, as a middle ground approach, being a bridge between “a total subordination” and “a complete release.”
The disaster management (including public law regulation) provided by public authorities when tackling the effects of hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis can be a benchmark for regulatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This concerns the support offered to entities and individuals affected by the negative consequences of reducing or stopping their businesses and staying in isolation.
The day-watchman approach, visible in certain examples of public response to COVID-19 may serve as a framework for establishing a regulatory regime that would automatically take effect in case of another pandemic, limiting delays in regulatory actions, reducing non-compliance and accelerating recovery.
This study provides an analysis of different theories on public regulation addressing the notion of regulation using the day-watchman theory, which could be applied in regulatory actions during a pandemic. The paper discusses concrete steps taken by regulatory authorities worldwide, bringing examples from the USA, Canada, the UK, France, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It juxtaposes the regulatory experiences derived from different catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis with the regulatory response in a pandemic.