|Today’s Cobra meeting on Covid-19 will include the country’s devolved leaders and focus on the state of the UK’s lockdown and its enforcement. A decision on whether to extend it was meant to be made on Monday, but we report today that ministers want to delay the decision as long as possible in the hope that Boris Johnson can contribute. Legally, a decision is needed by next Thursday. |
Still, there’s little expectation that it will be anything other than to extend. Today’s daily television briefing, led by Dominic Raab, is expected to be used to prepare the country for that reality.
There is also immediate concern that the Easter weekend might be used by some as an excuse for breaking social distancing rules, with a particular worry that second home owners will travel to their properties.
– Delayed peak –
Indeed, one government source told The Telegraph that the debate in Whitehall was over enhancement, not relaxation. None of that should come as a surprise, with almost all discussion so far of easing the lockdown having focused on May at the very earliest.
The Government and its advisers have been clear that the immediate focus is on getting past the peak of the epidemic, expectations of which appear to be getting later. One Cabinet minister told Camilla Tominey that it is now expected to be April 20 and not this weekend.
While London has seen the worst of the UK’s epidemic so far, other parts of the country are further behind on the infection curve.
– Not a permanent solution –
Nevertheless, with the social and economic costs of the lockdown mounting, the UK’s scientists are searching for and debating ways to ease and eventually lift the lockdown.
Some European countries are looking at the start of May for easing their restrictions, with The Times reporting on secret European Commission guidelines on how to do so. Even Spain and Italy are looking at next month as a possibility. They’ve been in lockdown for around two weeks longer than the UK
The Government has been reluctant to discuss the infection level at which it would act. But Prof Sung-Il Cho, who has played a leading role in South Korea’s successful Covid-19 management, has told Sarah Knapton that 50 new cases a day is a level at which the lockdown could be eased and perhaps replaced with an intensive track and trace system. Modelling suggests the UK might reach that level in early May.
– Thinking outside the lockdown box –
Nevertheless, some form of social distancing would probably still be necessary, and intermittent returns to lockdowns are still on the table. Sarah talks to experts here about what a looser form of social distancing might actually look like.
One wilder idea from Warwick University economists is for 20 to 30 year olds who do not live with their parents to be released from the lockdown to boost the economy. The Financial Times reports that ministers are considering the idea, with one Whitehall official calling the paper “rather good”.
Those discussions will only get more intense as Britain eventually passes the virus’ peak but finds itself still months and months away from a vaccine. In the meantime, however, the focus is on ensuring that three weeks’ good work is not undone.
TAP – Don’t they just love it? The fake epidemic has the world locked up and there is no end to the sentence. People are totally submissive and in fear. The threat is exactly nothing from the so-called virus, but the threat to the economy and our freedom from the government is as great as it ever was at any time in history. A television dictatorship has taken over the world, as without television the fake epidemic would never have got off the ground.