Back in March when the first lockdown was imposed there was near unanimous support for it across the country. We’d seen what was happening in Lombardy and in the weeks before that France, Spain and Ireland had all put in place similar measures.
This time as the virus returns as the nights close in it feels different. The reaction to students in Scotland being barred from even going to see their parents and social media reaction to closing pubs in London at 10pm signal trouble ahead.
It seems that the UK, as well as France and Spain, is caught in a halfway house. You can either decide to completely suppress this virus with all the attendant economic, health and social costs or you can as Sweden has done and accept that the virus will be with us until we can produce billions of vaccinations and to take limited mitigation measures – banning large events – and instead rely on social distancing.
I think our government in the UK is leaning towards the latter approach. The news that Oxford Professors Heneghan and Gupta have been directly briefing No 10 is very interesting as is the emerging Treasury position that we have to find a way of living with the virus.
But can we be relied upon to respect social distancing, self isolation or quarantining ?
We keep telling pollsters we broadly support draconian measures while completely ignoring even the most basic provisions.
Polls shows only 18% of people self-isolate after developing symptoms. Only 11% quarantine after being told by NHS Test and Trace that they’ve been in contact with a confirmed case.
This weekend you can feel the tension between the scientists and it’s now becoming visible in government. We can’t lock students up all winter, can we?
Boris Johnson faces a choice. We either go full Sturgeon or full Sweden now.