Public Affairs & Government Relations

COVID-19 UK Political Analysis by Tim Hames – 24th April 2020

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The Year that Disappeared. UK options for loosening the lockdown are limited and laborious.

The balance of probability is that the UK, like much of Europe, has passed, or is passing, the peak in terms of initial coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths. Mortality will be the last number to improve. This allows ministers, officials and a host of commentators to think about and speculate upon how the lockdown could be loosened or at least softened. This has already started in certain smaller countries such as Austria and Denmark. Germany is set to be the first of the most sizeable nations in Europe to undertake the operation. Even there, the emphasis is on a gradual transition.

The features which are specific to the UK are a population density and distribution that is strikingly different to other larger European states and an economic structure which means more travelling to work in a manner that means extra contact with other people than elsewhere all but inevitable. The offsetting element is the age profile of the population (we have a lower proportion of people who are 65 and over than the European norm) and they typically live either on their own or in a couple and not in care homes or with an extended family. This makes the isolation of such citizens easier. Ministers and officials are now wresting with the Rubik’s Cube that is devising a re-entry strategy.

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