And the Answers Are ….? The circuit breaker proposal
“Circuit breaker”, “Lockdown 2”, “Tier 3 restrictions” – there’s no end to the descriptions being given to the steps being proposed by politicians in all 4 corners of the kingdom to the steps they want taken to stop the virus spreading further.
So, presumably, they have clear answers to the following questions:-
- How Long For? The last lockdown was initially stated to be for 3 weeks. It ended up nearer 4 months and has yet to be lifted for some businesses. The narrower its scope, the more exemptions there are – especially if these are of places associated with the virus’s spread (universities?) – the longer it will need to be. Let’s stop fooling ourselves: two weeks is the length of a holiday not of a measure intended to control a pandemic. Even a month may not be enough.
- What will you use the time for? There is time enough to ask whether the time gained by the last lockdown was used wisely. But what is going to be done now, by whom and how effectively? Merely continuing with the same people in charge doing the same things as before which have not worked …. well, this may not be the wisest course.
- What do you expect it to deliver? A reduction in the “R” number: yes. But what else? Otherwise we get to the next question.
- What do you expect when restrictions are lifted? If the virus is not eliminated completely, what will happen when restrictions are lifted? And why won’t the country again be in the same place as now a few weeks/ month / years down the road? Yes, yes: we all know about vaccines. But these may not come at all, may not deliver and almost certainly will be months and, possibly, a year or more away. Hope for the best, by all means. But prepare for the worst. So what is the plan if there is no vaccine in the foreseeable future?
- Will all those businesses and employees left without an income in the meanwhile be properly compensated / supported? This one is key. Not many dispute the need to deal with the virus. Many do wonder how fair it is to expect the cost of this to be borne by those sectors and industries closed down or severely hampered by government diktat. If there is to be no or little help, what are the costs of this – both direct and indirect? Remember there will be welfare costs and lost tax revenue as well as less work and income for all the suppliers of goods and services to closed businesses and their employees. Plus the costs to banks, landlords and others. Are these costs being fairly shared? If there is to be such help, what is its cost? Are the costs of help greater or lesser or about the same as not supporting such businesses, jobs and sectors? And, whether we go down the support or no support route, how is it to be paid for? And by whom?
The politicians and others advocating more restrictions do have answers to these questions, don’t they?