COVID-19

COVID-19 UK Political Analysis by Tim Hames – 1st May 2020

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Phase Three. What the past implies about the post-coronavirus social and economic future.

As Boris Johnson put in his address on returning to Downing Street after his recuperation, we are close to the end of the first phase of dealing with the coronavirus crisis and will soon be moving on to phase two. As he also hinted, that second phase might well take much longer than the six to eight weeks which the initial stage of this extraordinary saga has involved. It will probably require a period of transition and the continued application of social distancing in some form until the end of this calendar year and possibly, to some extent, if modest, into mid-2021. Exactly how long it will last and with what degree of social and economic disruption is impossible to anticipate at this stage as at the moment there are too many known unknowns about the disease itself, how business can adapt to it with the least adverse impact and the point at which a mass vaccine might enter the equation.

Phase two will, nevertheless, reach a conclusion and probably within an eighteen-month timetable (perhaps earlier if a mass antibody test becomes available which would make lifting the lockdown a considerably less complicated exercise). It is, therefore, worth ministers, officials and the leadership of the business community starting to think about “phase three”, a post-virus society and economy. What does history suggest that we might anticipate about this and what “model” works best for it? This edition of the FTI UK Political Analysis will set out five broad assertions for consideration on this.

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