Monday, November 02, 2020

Coronavirus update


Earlier today the Prime Minister addressed Parliament, setting out the new restrictions which will come into force in England from Thursday. His speech was given in full in the previous post. Subject to endorsement by parliament, from Thursday as people will be asked to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.

  • Models run by government scientific advisers suggest that unless both the government and all of us take action now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or worse than the number of people who died in the first wave earlier this year. Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level. 
  • The government had hoped it would be possible to manage the situation with a regional system of alert levels, and allow as many people to live as normal a life as possible. I believe it they were justified in trying to make this work, because a national lockdown is not cost-free - not only in terms of jobs, businesses, and livelihoods, but also the impact on mental health and loneliness. It was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level, with strong local action and strong local leadership. But sadly, although the local restrictions did have some effect in reducing the rate at which infections were spreading and the "R" number, they did not reduce it enough: it was still higher than one.
  • From Thursday, we must all stay at home. We may only leave home for specific reasons, including: for education; for work if we cannot work from home; for exercise; for medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; to shop for food and essentials; and to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer. 
  • Subject to the vote on Wednesday, from Thursday 5 November until the start of December, new national restrictions will be enshrined in law and expire after four weeks. Any further national restrictions will need to be voted on after the end of this four week period. The experts say that this four-week period will bring R below 1, and the government will work with MPs on next steps after that.
  • At the end of four weeks, on Wednesday 2nd December, the government hopes to be able to seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.
  • The government's priority, remains keeping people in education – so childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open.  We must all take action now to protect the NHS and to reduce transmission and save lives.

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