This morning 11 am the Prime Minister will be absent from an emergency address to the nation from the government’s chief medical and scientific advisors, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
After much speculation it is expected that both advisors will outline new reasoning justifying plans for a series of further regional lockdowns to avoid a full national lockdown. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is meeting with council leaders today to look at lockdown measures across London.
Professor Chris Whitty has already expressed views that the Covid-19 pandemic, and measures to date to address the growing spread of contagion are ‘heading in the wrong direction’. So, altering course can be one expected headline to emerge from the briefing.
The Prime Minister over the weekend met with Professor Whitty, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to discuss possible options and actions. The agenda included a review of a strategy being referred to as a ‘circuit breaker’ devised by Dominic Cummings.
Numerous ministers within cabinet are voicing concerns as France and Spain in particular seem to be showing a path of growing positive tests amongst younger people, leading at a slower pace to what was seen at the early days of the pandemic, increased hospital admissions and deaths.
If the pattern seen in France and Spain is replicated in the UK, government ministers are now fearful of predictions saying a significant strain on the NHS and deaths will follow.
Opposition MP’s have been remarkably quiet since the onset of the pandemic, including the Labour Party. Sir Keir Starmer is beginning to say more, and his stance currently is focused on the lack of effective track and trace. Many are now saying that a regional track and trace strategy should be deployed, alongside regional lockdowns justified by results from local results.
In and amongst the current furore, the economic response to consequences of increased regional lockdowns, particularly the further negative impact on the hospitality industry seems to be muted, if there are any planed.
With the end of the furlough scheme imminent, and after most hospitality businesses having spent considerably on providing safe hospitality, more lockdown measures will undoubtedly lead to more closures.
What is needed, and urgently needed now is more measures from government to safeguard hospitality and the wider economy. Let’s hope that the Prime Minister is working on this while delegating lockdown to his medical and scientific advisors.
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