COVID-19 UK Political Analysis by Tim Hames – 8th January 2021

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Lockdown III. Viable timetables, crucial issues and long-term effects.

On the face of it, the third national lockdown in England has much in common in terms of the restrictions that it involves with the first one announced on March 23rd, 2020. Indeed, in some relatively minor regards it is slightly more liberal than the original event, although significantly more of an imposition (not least because of the closure of schools) than the four week set of enhanced national rules brought in for England last November.

In many respects, though, not least psychologically, it is very different. The widespread view last March was that lockdown would be a very strange experience indeed, but one which was highly temporary in nature and would lead in reasonably short order to the restoration of full or very near-full “normality”. The inconvenience was softened by that notion and the co-incidence with what would be unusually benign Spring weather. While a vaccine was, at that stage, still obviously some way off, this mattered less because the suppression of the virus through lockdown measures seemed like a strategic end in itself.

None of the above applies in early 2021. No one rational can believe that the latest lockdown will be comparatively short and will end with a swift transition to virtual normality. The inconvenience will be hardened by the likely climate for January and
February. The notion that suppression is anything other than a tactic, albeit one with a sizeable impact, must by now be universally accepted. The vaccination process is the only means to avoid the serious threat of a ceaseless stop-start society and economy.

The key questions now are the credibility of the timetable suggested for the completion of vaccination for the first four (and most vulnerable) sections of the population, other crucial issues to address while this occurs and the longer-term effects of Lockdown III.

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