At this point, it's hard to believe that there are still virus deniers but alas, there are a plenty. Even as we succumb to 9/11 levels of fatalities each and every day, and are on course to surpass the fatalities of the whole Vietnam war in the month of April alone, swaths of people continue to elude themselves from the gravitas of the situation at hand.
Obviously, a lot of this denial comes from the sheer shock of this mass casualty event. People were inevitably going to respond one way or another to that, and sticking their heads in the sand and pretending everything is kosher is but one way of going about it. Pretty grim either way.
I think one distinction people should understand, is that it's not the government orders that "shut down the economy," as much as the politicians and their critics would like to pretend otherwise. Politicians have and will continue to take credit for looking like they're in charge, and doing a good job ordering people about, saving lives. Meanwhile, their opponents will continue to blame them for staggering economic damage. Neither is right. They're really just window dressing on the underlying reality.
What is that reality?
It's that the people and institutions have voluntarily responded to known facts and critically changed their behaviour. This is the reason why restaurant bookings collapsed before closure orders. It's why private organisations like sports teams and competitions shut down before any order. It's why private employers went to work from home before there was any order to do so.
It's hard to separate out, but the marginal effect of compliance with mandatory public health orders pales in comparison to the inevitable effect of voluntary behaviour modification. I would estimate, that out of the total economic slump from the status quo ante, 80% or more is what would have happened anyway without any government mandates.
What about when we exit lockdown?
As eager as many of us are to return to some semblance of normalcy, government orders to come out of lockdown aren't going to magically force people to start dining out, taking tourist trips and gather in large numbers say in office buildings. If it's not safe, people just won't do it, and its simply not the case that most of these businesses could survive and operate on a fraction of their usual customer base. In-fact, no restaurant or hotel could keep its doors open on 10% or 20% of its usual revenue. Sponsors of large events would quickly bankrupt themselves trying to proceed with even as much as a third of their originally expected turn out. The NBA, MLB or Premiership, etc., are not going to risk the massive PR as well as potential legal liability of packing people into arenas and stadiums only to be then identified as the source of an outbreak cluster.
As I've repeatedly echoed in my previous posts, there is plenty of blame to pin on the government for its massive failures here -- the FDA/CDC testing fiasco being the biggest -- but we can't just make the pandemic disappear by demanding the government pretend as if it wasn't happening. Even if you succeed at getting the government to pretend everything is back to normal again, people won't do the same if it's simply not true.