The PM’s speech last night was delivered to a nation that wants to keep the lockdown by someone who knows that, right now, he has no room for manoeuvre and only least worst options to chose from.
The concessions, such as they were, are ones we have already taken. Who if they are so inclined doesn’t walk the dog or go for a run on the same day? How many people have been apprehended for sunbathing in the park?
We are clearly two to three weeks away from having the testing, trace and tracking capability and business readiness to begin to lift the main restrictions of the lockdown.
But at least now there is a data dashboard of sorts and a few deadlines to work towards. Shops back by 1 June, some schools reopened after half term and cafes, restaurants and cinemas by July.
Before any of this happens we need to address the pandemic in care homes and keep that R number well below 1.
We knew already there was no easy way out and this address only confirmed it.
Over the coming weeks I would expect more people to go back to work and to seek opportunities to see their families. The furlough scheme will have to be wound down but there may be exceptions for those working in pubs and the leisure sectors.
My prediction is that this will be the last PM address that is more focused on controlling the virus than its economic consequences.
In the coming weeks the sheer scale of the economic catastrophe we face will become a grim reality and the political priority.
By June we will have voluntarily taken more of our freedom back and have gradually edged our way back to work. Let’s hope by then we have better resources to counter the virus and the ingenuity to adapt and learn to live with a level of risk that’s not going away.
That would have been a daunting address for any PM to make. For all its vague detail and the calamitous pre-briefings to the press I suspect that the force of Johnson’s delivery and his Reaganite optimism will extend the public’s goodwill to a government whose erratic response to the pandemic hardly merits it.