Given these graphs for the UK…
… it seems to me, for what it’s worth, that a gradual move towards some loosening of lockdown in order to generate economic activity is sensible.
Much of what Prime Minister Johnson said in his broadcast yesterday evening was also sensible. However, as with our move into lockdown in late March, the government has got the communication badly wrong and there appears to be a lack of planning.
The search for a snappy slogan, much-loved by Johnson it seems, has meant ditching Stay Home and replacing it with a meaningless Stay Alert. Be alert; we need more lerts! My aim is to Stay Aloof.
And the media frenzy, ahead of yesterday evening’s broadcast, dramatically undermined the message. Many more people will have got the message that everything is getting better and we can soon return to normal whereas when it came to it on Sunday evening that was not really the message. A deliberate or accidental clouding of the message?
Keir Starmer was absolutely right to say that telling millions of people, who cannot work at home, that they should, this morning, try to return to work was unrealistic, and potentially dangerous. the timing, on a Sunday evening, was unnecessary – it should have been planned better, but planning doesn’t seem to be a skill of this government.
We should expect deaths and cases to go up with this loosening of lockdown – that much is inevitable. We probably won’t see deaths rising in the government figures for about two weeks but cases should rise quicker than that. It would be good, really good, if we had very good data on those issues because in theory, in just over two weeks’ time, schools may be opening, in a limited but significant way, in England, and that is likely to increase the number of cases in the period after that. It would be good to know where we are with the number of cases and how that number is changing before actually firmly deciding to open up the schools.
How are you feeling about all this? Nervous? I hope so! You should be nervous. Maybe, like me, you have this faint hope that you’ve already had ‘it’ and that slight sore throat weeks ago was an almost symptomless dose of ‘it’ but that’s probably wishful thinking. No, unless you know you have had ‘it’ you are right to be nervous. Speaking as an oldish overweight male who always finds it difficult to shake off coughs when they hit me, I’m a bit nervous.
But we can’t close everything down for ever. So, in the absence of a vaccine, you and I are quite likely to get ‘it’ in the next few months. The virus hasn’t gone away – it’s still infecting lots of our fellow citizens and it’s heading our way soon.