This piece from Front Bench mentions September as the end date for lockdown in the UK. Other places mention three months – June. Why so long? In other countries like China, it was a month.
In yet another sign of the speed with which the Covid-19 crisis is moving, the Prime Minister announced the closure of all schools yesterday, just days after explaining why he was holding off on the move.
Vulnerable pupils and the children of essential workers, which includes everything from nurses to delivery drivers, will still be able to attend school. They have been told to turn up this morning as usual, although there may be some mergers and changes in future. A list of precisely who is an essential worker is expected today.
The prospect of no school possibly until September for millions of kids is daunting, but the most immediate impact is the cancellation of exams. The Government was unclear as to what would happen instead and is yet to decide. Camilla Turner reports on the possibilities under consideration, which include relying on predicted grades and coursework or a new, teacher-led assessment.
– Lock down the capital –
The most dramatic measures are yet to come, but we may see the first as early as Friday. Downing Street is believed to be preparing to place London in partial lockdown. That’s because the capital’s outbreak is well ahead of the rest of the country’s.
At the same time, Boris Johnson was adamant in yesterday’s press conference that Britain is still a “land of liberty” and expressed reluctance to introduce the most draconian measures, despite reports of people ignoring current advice.
And while Johnson refused to rule out more stringent measures (and No10 has also not ruled out citizens having to fill out travel papers to justify journeys), it doesn’t appear as though it will be as strict as measures on the continent.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants would be forced to close and public transport reduced, but travel into and out of the capital isn’t expected to be banned.
40 tube stations closing.
– Wartime measures mean wartime measures –
Yet is Johnson, who has repeatedly shown a reluctance to take the most stringent of measures, right to rely simply on advice? The rammed state of the Tube yesterday suggests that it isn’t working.
As libertarian as the PM’s instincts might be, it’s worth pointing one thing out. As Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian at Axios highlights, many of the lockdown measures around the world are not authoritarian, they’re what democracies do in a major crisis. Winston Churchill, Johnson’s biggest hero, put in place equally “undemocratic” measures such as censorship and rationing during the Second World War. He didn’t just rely on the stoicism of the public.
So long as the measures are lifted as soon as the crisis is over, they are not incompatible with democracy.
Indeed, the strictest of measures may well be under consideration. The Financial Times reports that the lockdown in London could be far more stringent. It could include only one person per household being able to leave the house at any one time. (Quite how such measures could and would be enforced is unclear.)
There is doubt about when exactly the lockdown will come into place – some reports say this weekend, others that it could be a week or more away – suggesting that some measures may be held back.
The difficulty in all this is that there is a lag of anywhere from five to 14 days to see the results or failures of any quarantine measures. That means that deaths in Italy have continued to pile up and it also means that the people who ignore government advice and pile into pubs tonight won’t know if they’ve caught the virus, and will go on to spread it to their elderly and vulnerable friends and relatives for perhaps a week or more.
TAP – unless it’s 5G that’s killing people and not the CV hoax at all.