The first thing we learn from his much-hyped talk to the Nation on 10th May is that it only applies to England. The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly (and probably the Northern Irish Assembly) are continuing with their own lockdown rules.At a time when the population of the whole of the UK need clear and decisive guidelines, we get the opposite. If our politicians cannot agree on the best way forward, how can we, the great uninformed masses, have confidence in any of their decisions? Are the Scottish, Welsh and NI leaders just trying to exert their own independence and power? Does Boris get his advice from different scientists than the other parts of the UK? Or, as much of the population will think, do the politicians and their scientific advisers have no clear plan on how to get out of this situation?
I sense that, although the vast majority of the population of the UK are obeying the lockdown, people are beginning to question it and getting fed up with it. Most people we talk to don’t know anyone who has had a serious dose of covid19, never mind died of it. We hear the hospitals are half empty, A&E is quiet, people are dying because their kidney dialysis has been reduced to take pressure off the NHS, chemo for cancer has been stopped, the list goes on. So if the lockdown is still so essential, we need clear, unambiguous and consistent guidance from our politicians.
So what did Boris say?
1 People are actively encouraged to go to work if they cannot work from home, but avoiding public transport and maintaining social distancing. What about Teachers, Shop workers, Transport workers? How do workers work if their businesses are closed or reduced?
2 People are now allowed unlimited outdoor exercise, sunbathing, picnics and driving to destinations for exercise, plus playing sport with members of your household (golf, tennis.) But how far can we travel? And what of the fear that the Government has cranked up? I know that in my locality, near the coast, the beaches have been all but empty for weeks. People are allowed out, but AFRAID to leave their house. If people’s fear is not reduced, they will just continue to stay at home.
3 We can meet one non-household person at a time outdoors but 2 m apart. Why only outdoors? The reason should be obvious, but has never been properly addressed by Government or Media. Covid19 is an airborne respiratory illness. What happens to all those virus particles when you sit indoors with an infected person? They continue to circulate around the room. What happens to them outdoors in a light breeze (approx 5mph wind) or a moderate breeze (approx 15 mph wind)? Simply, in one second, they are already 2 to 7 meters away from you. No difference in social distancing advice indoors and outdoors? Crazy! (5mph = 2.2 meters per second. And a breeze like that feels almost like still air.)
4 We now have “Stay Alert” rather than “Stay Home”. Does that mean “Use your common sense while the Government gets off your back?” Or what?
5 Some schools to reopen on 1st June. Children are all but immune from Covid19. It’s 80-year-olds who are hit, not 8-year-olds. The schools should never have been closed. (See here.)
6 Phased reopening of non-essential shops. When, exactly?
The rest of the speech included quarantining airport arrivals for fourteen days. So if someone flies from Spain, where they have Covid19, they quarantine for fourteen days. When they fly back, logically they quarantine for another fourteen days because we also have Covid19 here. So the Spanish protect themselves from British Covid, and we protect ourselves from Spanish Covid. It’s the same Covid! Rather than crashing the airline and tourist industries, why not just stop over-70’s from flying? For the rest, the risks are truly miniscule. (See here.)
And all these changes apply to England only! In both Scotland and Wales, people can still only go to work in essential jobs, exercise more than once a day, but only close to home, with very limited travelling. (How limited?) No picnics, sunbathing, sitting on a park bench. Members of different households must not meet. No plans to reopen shops. So if you live near a border of England with Wales or Scotland, you best not cross the border for exercise!
I normally find little positive to say about Boris or his ex-advisor Prof “Lockdown” Ferguson, AdL (Adulterer during Lockdown.) But he is at least ahead of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, whose total failure to respond to good science and good data is devastating. Devastating both in the sense of being shocking, and also in the sense of its effects on their people.
And Sweden, with its sensible approach? Well, they are not all dead, as widely predicted. Their death rate of 0.32 of a person per thousand is still lower than our 0.47. And it’s not because of their lower population density; they are actually more heavily urbanised than the UK. Their open spaces are just that: empty open spaces. And their higher death rate than Norway is partly due to their more extensive use of flu vaccine, which increases risks from Covid. (See here.)They are not worried about unlocking their people. They never locked them up.