Blatant and visible violations of Covid-safe rules and guidance are relatively rare and probably less important in spreading infection than contacts that are within the current regulations (e.g. at workplaces). Punishment for blatant and visible violations may have a role in maintaining a sense of justice for the majority who are adhering, but evidence suggests that prioritizing punitive approaches can be ineffective or even counter-productive. Punitive approaches applied to the one area where adherence is low — self-isolation — also distract from the real causes of failure of adherence and the real solutions. Increasing public understanding about what self- isolation means and when it is required, plus providing adequate financial, material, practical and social support will be more effective in infection control than punishments.

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