Threats to ban outdoor exercise are dangerous – and show us our mission now

Government threats to ban exercise outside the home are dangerous, illiberal, and utterly foolish on medical grounds. “Never threaten something you can’t carry through on.” is a good rule of negotiating generally – and following through on this would break the UK’s virus effort.

On purely practical grounds, it’s unenforceable. Even if patrolled by martial law, you can’t coop people up across the hundreds upon hundreds of miles of rural England and Scotland. The manpower isn’t there. And doing it only in cities would very reasonably breed resentment – and thus it breeds contempt for the whole lockdown and erodes public support, especially in this case among urban populations. If people are given rules they feel they can’t help but breach, they’re more likely to break more of the lockdown rules, eroding our efforts against the virus.

And it’s genuinely true that people can’t help but breach rules like this. This is a very, very trying time for many people both mentally and physically. You have to give them the ability to look after themselves throughout it – not doing so is unconscionably immoral. For some people, excessive rules would mean lockdown contempt. Some people are isolated with people they desperately need space from – blocking people into the house could make it even harder for people with abusive family members to get away. For others, it would mean mental health breakdowns and developing worse physical issues. Guess what we don’t have much of right now? If your answer was “spare healthcare capacity”, you’re absolutely right. Any government in this situation that makes choices that are likely to damage more people’s health and put additional pressure on services is a government that’s not fit to manage the crisis.

Banning outdoor exercise would, in short, erode the effort against the virus from all sides, rapidly. A breakdown in public respect for the guidance, huge additional enforcement costs, and major additional use of NHS systems needed to look after the people it would hurt and hurt badly. We can’t afford that right now – any of it. I don’t think it’s got into people’s heads that this system has to be able to be a reality for twelve weeks, not twelve days. We’re so hyped up on the rolling moment by moment pandemic coverage that nobody is thinking in those terms. Adopting rules that will crumple in a fortnight will make the UK’s efforts against the pandemic untenable, and lead to significant avoidable loss of life. Those are the stakes here, and we should be very aware of them.

So this threat is either the edge of catastrophic government overreach, or an empty threat which will erode public trust and cause rising panic. (What’s the best way to get far too many people outside at once? Tell them they might not be able to do so in a couple of days’ time).

It was an appalling decision for Matt Hancock and the Conservative government to issue this threat, and an equally poor decision for Keir Starmer to offer Labour’s immediate backing for it. Complete lack of forethought – we need better from our leaders, and fast. This is where the Liberal Democrats have to come into the picture, loud and clear. We potentially face being – not an unfamiliar role – the largest potential leadership for UK-wide opposition to a profoundly dangerous authoritarian project that will both strip the liberties of, and practically endanger, the people and communities we serve. To any pundits asking yesterday what the party’s role is in the new world of Starmer-led Labour, Starmer has just given us the answer very clearly indeed. We are the Liberal Democrats, and we are here to provide the opposition to catastrophe authoritarianism. Let’s do it soon, and loudly: lives may very genuinely be on the line.

* James Baillie is a member and activist from Breckland and a former chair of the Lib Dems' Radical Association. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Vienna, where he works on digital studies of medieval Georgia. He blogs about politics at thoughtsofprogress.wordpress.com.

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93 Comments

  • If it comes to a choice between banning outdoor exercise and preventing people dying, I know which side I am on.

  • Venetia Caine 6th Apr '20 - 4:23pm

    I sent this to my (Tory) MP (and junior minister) yesterday:

    For a few thousand idiots who flout the government’s instructions, Matt Hancock is threatening to deprive tens of millions of their hour’s exercise a day. That exercise is the only escape from the confines of their homes, many of which will not even have a garden.
    These idiots don’t even see the news. They have no idea of your colleague’s threats.
    Up to now, the people are supporting the government. If you deprive them of their exercise you can be sure you will lose all of that goodwill.
    Leave us our right to exercise!

  • I’m honestly amazed how supposedly liberal minded people fall in with this utter nonsense and condemn people for taking a break from house arrest to sit hundreds a of yards apart in a park. You are more likely to get the virus from your post and shopping than from sitting in the open air with your family or housemates. There people are stuck at home all day with children, people in bedsits, in hostels, tower blocks . We are destroying jobs, businesses, liberty and try to slightly slow down one health problem by creating others. I’m not going to condemn a household for having a picnic and kicking a ball around in the fresh air. I’m not willing turn surfers into symbols of selfishness when by definition they are self isolated in the sea and the complaints have less to do with them spreading viruses than it has to with anger about them finding something enjoyable to do. Anyone who imagines that conformity driven by isolation, mistrust, and anger will lead to a better place is kidding themselves.

  • James Baillie 6th Apr '20 - 5:39pm

    Joe, you may be comforted, a lot of people are not: I stand by that if you tell people something *might* get banned in the near future, there’s no better way to provoke them into doing it, immediately. Warning people against testing the boundaries only makes sense if the sanction proposed is credible and reasonable – and if, as we agree, it would be a mistake to impose the sanction, it then stands I think that it is also a mistake to wave it around like this.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Apr '20 - 5:41pm

    You’re so obviously right, James. it seems to me (well done!), that for a moment I thought you were repeating the obvious, something already agreed among us. But then I remembered Keir Starmer’s disappointing statement. And I recalled that my local paper hadn’t actually printed my letter last week, protesting at obnoxious Go Home notices fixed to the fence opposite a footpath not far from here – a footpath where you can safely walk for an hour without as much proximity to people as you encounter when out doing the necessary shopping. Illiberalism is rising and we do indeed need to take a stand against it.

    I’m not even sure about the ‘few thousand idiots’, Venetia. OK, people need to be gently warned that they can’t stay out having a picnic in a popular place at present because if everyone does it there will be crowds gathering. But you should be able to sit down for five minutes to rest and have a drink of water without being pounced on. I hope the police have stopped pouncing by now, and the government mustn’t either.

  • Tony Greaves 6th Apr '20 - 5:46pm

    Excellent posting. But of course I worked out straightaway that if this London-centric rule is brought in I can always go shopping two or three times a week and walk to the furthest supermarket I can get to in say 45 minutes, then walk back with my booty. The only problem is I would have to do the shopping and that is far more problematic than walking through our local park and into the local countryside. I do hope the Liberal Democrats leadership, whoever it is now, have the courage to denounce this authoritarian nonsense.

  • You’re dead right James.

    “the Liberal Democrats leadership, whoever it is now” genuinely made me laugh out loud, thank you for that TOny, much needed in these times.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Apr '20 - 6:24pm

    I’m not arguing about anything in the article or the comments – but this is a bit second-order issue.

    I think that the pushback we’ve seen on the idea of banning exercise is the first hint that support for lockdown it not infinite. I think that we all know that, but no one seems to be saying it openly. This shutdown can’t go on for any length of time and we all (society at large) need to grapple with that soon. If you don’t have an economy you don’t have public healthcare.

    We have accepted these enormous stops to our lives. That might well have been for all the right reasons, but it doesn’t change the fact that we did it with no exit strategy and that is a huge problem from an economic and social perspective. We urgently need an exit strategy and the exercise issue shows why that is.

    The upcoming period is going to be very painful on just about every level and the compromises will hurt – but we just seem to be glossing over it now. Liberty matters, but the exit strategy is right here and right now priority 1. Everything flows from that.

    I will criticise the government for many things. Their being uneasy about placing the entire country under house arrest is not one of them.

  • @Little Jackie Paper

    ” but it doesn’t change the fact that we did it with no exit strategy and that is a huge problem from an economic and social perspective.”
    I would suggest that there is an exit strategy, it is just the Government does not want to say that it is yer as they want people to remain focused on the current phase that we are in.
    There have been several stories in the papers today setting out other EU countries exit strategies, which have been along the same lines of what I had been saying on here over the last week, so it came as no surprise to me

    A sensible exit strategy seems to be, as is being adopted by some Eu countries

    1) reconfigure certain hospitals that are solely designated as Covid-19 Hospitals during this crisis and other hospitals that are for treating everything else so we can bring down the “indirect” deaths associated with the disease
    2) Better surveillance measures of the virus, use of Phones and Apps? to track, trace, test and isolate those who are infected or have come into contact. TEST TESt TEST
    3) Close Borders to any countries which are a known hotspot and mandatory quarantine 14 days anyone arriving from that country
    4) reopen schools
    5) Allow people to go back to work Excluding pubs, clubs, restaurants, etc at this stage (it is still too early to allow mass gathering of people inside buildings or at sporting events
    6) Continue social distancing measures and hygiene rules
    7) elderly and people who are vulnerable to continue to isolate until transmission rate is bought under total control
    8) We need a working antibody test to tell who has had the virus and it needs rolling out across the country but there needs to be absolute confidence that the tests are accurate enough.
    9) Hand Sanitizer stations outside all shops and buildings to use on the way in and way out

    I know people are not going to like the idea of pubs and clubs remaining closed, but this has to be a staged release, there is no point us going through all the hurt and pain we have been through only to “rush” back to normal and end up back to the beginning because infection rates rise from close contact in confined places where hygiene standards are difficult to control.
    Many are not going to like the Surveillance and tracking measures either but it is a reality of what is to come and what is needed in order to beat this virus so really needs to be discussed and get people used to it

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Apr '20 - 6:49pm

    Matt – I don’t disagree as such.

    Two points though. 1 – It’s far from ‘pubs and clubs.’ I’m Treasurer at the local church and this will wipe us and other churches out – no doubt about it. And we had reserves and no debt. Church closed, congregation and social activity gone, children’s and mother’s group gone, probably food bank closed, historic building sold off, church hall used by local community groups gone. Local business losing skilled historic building maintenance work. It’s more than leisure at stake here. The internet is a very poor substitute for civil society.

    Secondly, whilst the things you list are all surely right what no one is saying is that we (the world) will be doing herd immunity and I don’t think I’ve seen any exit strategy that talks about that or confronts anyone with the implications. As you say at a minimum the field hospitals are here to stay. But even if we had a vaccine we likely couldn’t give it to vulnerable people. This is about managing it now and I don’t see any meaningful debate anywhere about that. It’s going to be utterly excruciating. What the article is talking about is right, but it’s just a part of the bigger question around the exit.

  • Richard Underhill. 6th Apr '20 - 6:55pm

    James Baillie | Mon 6th April 2020 – 3:42 pm
    Are you in Vienna now?
    Do you speak the local lingo?
    What do you think about the announcement by the Austrian Chancellor today?
    Is there still a meek acceptance of a ban on jaywalking?
    Do you think that Berlin will do the same? (bearing in mind their history in the DDR)

  • @Little Jackie Paper

    It is possible that Churches would be able to reopen as they would be able to implement some kind of social distancing along with hygiene standards to make them “safer” environments, this is impossible in Pubs, clubs, restaurants as so many people are constantly touching/drinking from glasses and touching face etc over a prolonged period of time where it makes it more difficult to remain alert.

    With regards to a vaccine If or when it becomes available, I would have thought that the same principles will apply as to every other vaccine will apply in these circumstances, it always goes to front line workers first (as it should do) then it is the Elderly and the Vulnerable with underlying conditions that gets it next as it is these that are most vulnerable to the virus and put a strain on the NHS and resources if they get ill, then it would be rolled out to the general population. I am not sure why you would think the vulnerable wouldn’t get it.
    Of course, there will be those that are fortunate enough with the money and resources to be able to skip any cue

  • marcstevens 6th Apr '20 - 8:40pm

    I agree totally with the government and would like to see more stringent rules. There are too many inconsiderate people flouting the rules risking the spread of the virus by not keeping to the 2 metres distancing. I have come across this when out walking in the park and on the streets. It seems the behaviour in the supermarkets and queuing is marginally better. It is illiberal to behave in such as a way to either cause harm put people at risk of harm and there is nothing authoritarian about keeping people safe and bringing in the necessary safe keeping measures. It is liberal to support people via the welfare state and properly funded public services and to protect them. I also hope Boris Johnson recovers, it’s worrying that the PM is now in intensive care.

  • John Marriott 6th Apr '20 - 8:40pm

    Johnson is now in intensive care. THAT’S Why we need to stay indoors. It really is that serious. Do as you are told. We can worry about civil liberties when we get this virus under control. We are at war, nothing more and nothing less.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Apr '20 - 8:51pm

    matt – Firstly and most obviously churches have to get to the end of the lockdown. Looking at the budget it’s not at all clear that will happen. After that we lose lots of giving, lots of hall rental income and all the fundraisers and socials. Then about 75% of a church congregation is in the high-risk category so may never return. Whilst this is going on costs of insurance and historic building maintenance are going up. The comparison with a pub is way too simplified. Why would a pub not be able to come upto hygiene standards?

    At a minimum churches are going to lose shared communion, handshakes and group singing. So that’s the self-employed musician losing her successful business she’s worked 20 years for overnight.

    On the vaccine, obviously it’s not been developed yet so we don’t know. But as this is a virus chances are this will be a live vaccine. It would almost certainly be something you couldn’t give to immune-compromised people, elderly etc. I had a live vaccine a few years ago and at 35 and in full health it knocked me. The NHS will, in all possibility not be able to immunise vulnerable if the vaccine would be too much for their immune system to handle. To be clear I hope I’m wrong on all that and there is a universal vaccine, but I’m not optimistic. And I don’t think a lot of the public have yet realised this.

    This is what I mean about the exit strategy. We as a world just are not talking about these excruciating choices that are here now. We are NOT going to, ‘beat this virus.’ It will be endemic, it’s here and you can’t just make it vanish. We have to manage it recognising that we simply can not just shred the world economy. The point about exercise is just a hint at what is to come and you are quite right – no one is talking about it.

  • What is wrong with a family having a picnic in the park? It sends a message of normality. It says that it is ok to do that. If half of London’s population decide that it is a good idea then everywhere will be packed and infections will soar.

    Unfortunately there are far too many people who are not intelligent enough to understand that this virus is very readily transmitted and it kills people. In fact, the guidelines are incredibly lax. Infected people can produce contaminated droplets that can remain suspended in the air for minutes or even hours as happens with the tiny water droplets that constitute aerosols such as mist.

  • James Baillie 6th Apr '20 - 9:24pm

    marcstevens: You may wish to see more stringent rules, but that doesn’t mean they’re sensible. Whilst I do think there’s a civil liberties argument here, there’s a more pertinent immediate argument about whether more stringent rules would be enforceable (they wouldn’t) and whether they’d risk significant extra strain on the NHS (they would). We exacerbate our epidemic level mental health crises in the middle of an epidemic level disease crisis at our peril. The “we can just coop everyone into their houses until it’s over” mentality is a two week mentality when we need a twelve week mentality for this situation. Making an unsustainable knee-jerk set of rules that will require more NHS resources when we need every member of medical staff we can get on hand is frankly every bit as reckless and dangerous as not making rules at all.

    Richard Underhill: I am in Vienna, and my German is poor at best, unfortunately. I think today’s announcements are welcome and broadly sensible – whilst I have some quibbles with Austria’s handling of the crisis, the government here have achieved a clarity of action and messaging that the UK has lacked, coupled with a sensitive approach to enforcement without the sort of cases of police overreach I’ve been seeing back home, which has helped.

  • @Little Jackie Paper

    Actually upon reflection think it will be a while before any establishment that involves an element of socialising will be allowed, the risks are too great, I think an exception will be made though for a place of worship, though the church halls will probably still be excluded. I get why it is a worry for you and others for who it is important in the community

    “Why would a pub not be able to come upto hygiene standards?” Close contact with others, the amount of hand to face contact in a bar picking up drinks, cigarettes etc and the longer you are outdoors the harder it is to maintain conscious hygiene, especially around alcohol when guards become lowered.

    Maybe you are right about the vaccine, but that is something that is way down the track at least 18 months at best, the best we can hope for in the shorter term is an effective antiviral medication to treat.
    I do think we need to start to have some difficult conversations because of some measures that we are going to need to be put in place to manage this epidemic or endemic which is going to involve a lot of surveillance and tracking measures that some Liberals despise, I know it makes them uncomfortable but we have to face reality here.
    There has got to be a pay off in order to release some of the lockdown measures. I am just not confident in how some are going to respond to that, considering the reactions to lockdown measures and the amount of disobedience that has already taken place, I dread to think what they are going to say or do when the government announces the surveillance measures that are needed.

    This Virus is scary, the fact that it has jumped from Animal to Human, Human to Human and now Human to Animal transmission in such a short period of time is alarming, as far as I understood, Viruses do not tend to develop that kind of ability in such a short time frame. This one seems different and I guess why it’s got all the governments worried. They would not be taking the actions that they are and costing the world’s economies trillions of dollars unless this was serious.
    People really need to stop comparing this to the flu and other death rates

  • This is not a matter upon which one can generalise on the basis of abstract principles.

    In some cases, perhaps in many cases, exercising outside the home will be utterly harmless. In many other cases, however, it will be arrant foolhardiness which will endanger the life and health of oneself and others. To make some general principle that “outside exercise is an absolute right which only an authoritarian régime would dare restrict” is to ignore all of those instance where it would be a clear and present menace to public health. Abstractions make for bad policy; practical, on-the-ground examination of the facts of each case make for better policy. We should be out to find which policies work best, not trying to make political hay by villainising policy makers from other parties. This is a time for discussion and negotiation, not posturing.

  • Peter
    Of course you would. You’re a wing nut, pretending to be liberal and you just want see people restricted because you like the feeling of control. This is what gradually put me off the anti EU people posting here. They are not liberals. They’re either conservatives or labour people. I’m not keen on the EU. But I agree with you lot even less.
    Petty mean spirited statists of the dullest kind.

  • @ John Marriott Well said, John. You are the voice of mature sanity.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Apr '20 - 9:54pm

    Joseph Bourke – ‘The purpose of the lockdown is to slow the spread not eliminate the virus.’ Indeed – and looking at the internet I’m really, really worried that some people don’t understand that. What we are doing is suppressing it, not eliminating it. This is emphatically not a war where an enemy can be vanquished, rather it is about a long game. Herd immunity for now is the only game in town.

    Jenner came up with a smallpox vaccine in 1794 and smallpox was eliminated in 1979. Now, obviously, tech has advanced since then but those are the timelines we are on here. Of course society did not grind to a halt between 1794 and 1979. Children were still educated in schools and the risk was managed. Large crowds gathered during the Spanish Flu and the condition was managed. That’s the game now. There’s a wonderful article on the internet called The Hammer and the Dance that I think is very good on this. Key I think will be getting some idea of how many people have had this virus, but with only mild symptoms but without mass (and likely forced) testing we just have a lot of ‘don’t knows.’

    We can not plausibly keep up this lockdown for any length of time – economically, politically and indeed morally. We will be living with an endemic virus, realising that is what matters now. My best guess in the short term is very invasive surveillance that will become engrained will be the key tool. Drug regimes to treat covid 19 patients also look key too.

  • Glenn, Thank you for illustrating my point.

  • John Marriott 6th Apr '20 - 10:27pm

    @David Raw
    Thanks for your kind words, David. It never ceases to amaze me how some people seem incapable of seeing the wood from the trees. As ‘the King’ put it; “A little less conversation a little more action”.

  • I’m a long term Lib Dem voter who voted Conservative for the first (and hopefully last) time in December. I have to say I’m really heartened to see the the Liberal Democrats talking about balance of power between the state and the individual again.

  • Peter
    I follow all the rules. I’m just not convinced by them. What you think illustrates your point is neither here nor there to me. It’s just a dim spark from a low wattage light bulb.

  • Can’t say it’s a pleasure, John. It could be said this thread illustrates a new final chapter for Dangerfield. Having survived intensive care nine years ago I note the twitterati twitter on in their own little world while a man I could never vote for is fighting for his live.

    A bit more quiet respect needed.

  • @Little Jackie Paper

    “Herd immunity, for now, is the only game in town.”

    This is where we differ. I don’t think the evidence of coronaviruses supports the measure.
    The Common Cold is a coronavirus and yet this is a virus that has been around for 100’s of years and yet we can still get infected with the common cold multiple times a year. The Corona Virus is much more infectious and has far more serious respiratory complications.
    There is evidence in south Korea that people are testing positive again COVID-19 weeks after getting the all-clear.

    The only game in town is lock-down until they have the infection rate under control so there is little to no community transmission, lock-down measures can then be released “slowly” and controlled but there will still be limits on what we can and can not do.
    I still think that will mean no large gatherings in social settings, pubs and clubs (though restaurants could be more controlled with less seating and only service at a table)
    Strict monitoring and surveillance measures put in place with limits on travel when hotspots occur, contact tracing and quarantining etc.
    It is entirely plausible that we will go through periods of stage releases and then back to more severe lockdowns if this becomes like the more seasonal pandemics until an effective and safe vaccine is found.

    I think we are going to have to start looking at how we change our economies, no doubt all the countries are going to be looking a how they grow their economies out of this and become more self-sufficient and less reliant on Chinese supply chains or other international supply chains for that matter.
    Things are definitely going to need to change in the way we lead our lives.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Apr '20 - 10:14am

    Mr Johnson falling seriously ill doesn’t actually alter the facts of the current crisis, John Marriott, though as you illustrate it may well add to the panic about it. Panic is natural enough in people who face a real chance of dying of the illness if they catch it, and they need to be sheltered from it. But it should be remembered that in fact, 80 per cent of people who contract the virus only experience mild symptoms.

    Ordinary people have taken that on board, even while grieving about people well-known in their community suddenly succumbing. So I have heard people say that probably some of us have had it already and never realised, which leads one on to think of friends who did have persistent coughs and debility in the New Year that didn’t seem to relate to colds or flu. The point here is that the government doesn’t need to try and protect the entire population from ever catching the virus. Their main aim has been to ensure that hospital capacity to care for those who need hospital treatment is sufficient for the increasing numbers, and mercifully it looks as if this is being achieved.

    So no, it isn’t helpful to think of this as a war. This is an illness which will recur at times and most people who catch it will recover. The exit strategy should be, once the peak has passed as it may well do this week in England, to begin to end the lockdown, particularly for the young and the most physically active. And civil liberties do need to be protected as well, at all times, and that is a duty that falls rightly to Liberal Democrats.

  • @Katharine

    I am afraid you are wrong.
    As keeps being pointed out, this is a coronavirus and a new one at that for which there is no immunity and the evidence points to as with the common cold which is also a coronavirus, you can catch it multiple times throughout a year. Although the severity of the common cold has reduced due to the fact that it has been with us for hundreds of years, this is not the case with coronavirus as it is new, so each time it comes back it is likely to be as severe as the last and with 20% each time an outbreak occurs requiring Hospital treatment and 5% becoming critical, this has the potential to put a huge amount of strain on resources and the population.
    I really do not understand what part of that people are not getting, is it just wishful thinking and trying to be overly optimistic to the cost of all else?

    “And civil liberties do need to be protected as well, at all times,”

    We have seen the type of measures and surveillance that European countries are going to put in place in order to ease lock-downs restrictions and to track, trace and Isolate this virus. I still imagine there will be many things that we cannot do that involve large gatherings within buildings that involve socialising i.e Bars and Clubs and also the need for measures for tracking through the use of Mobile Phones and Apps are you saying that civil liberties need to be protected above the need to protect and save lives and the community? I am just curious

  • John Marriott 7th Apr '20 - 11:00am

    @Katharine Pindar
    Sorry, Katharine, it IS war; but, as I wrote in a letter in the Guardian last week “not as we know it”. No amount of conference resolutions or pleas for the maintenance of so called ‘civil liberties’, while undoubtedly well intentioned, will make us safe. Only an effective vaccine will, unless, as “most people who catch it will recover”, you want to opt for so called ‘herd immunity’, until a vaccine kicks in, as those doyens of Social Democracy, the Swedes, appear to have. So, I return yet again to the recorded words of the German Kaiser at the start of WW1, which I also quoted in my Guardian letter; “I recognise no parties any more, only Germans”.

    As for taking the prospect of death “on board”, as someone, who has twice had sepsis, I have certainly faced that possibility. However, with four grandchildren under eight, a daughter in law, who works in the NHS, two sons, who are chronic asthmatics, my other daughter in law working from home and my wife and I well over 70, can I be certain that this virus will not mutate like influenza in future, and begin to attack the young and ‘fit’? That’s why I can’t get excited about an imminent lifting of any lockdown. I’m largely staying at home – and so should the rest of us, unless we are ‘key workers’, despite the inconvenience and interruption to our busy lives this has clearly caused.

  • @Martin

    Is it true that people can catch a common cold more than once a year? I most certainly have. Common Cold is a coronavirus so why should covid-19 be any different? It is certainly the case that there might be several strands of COVID so therefore you might catch the different strands, who know? the point is that we are only 3 months into a new virus and not enough scientific “facts” are known about it yet.
    Therefore it seems entirely correct for us to surrender some civil liberties for as short a time as possible in order to get on top of this virus. After all, you can regain your lost civil liberties but you cannot regain the lost lives.

    I care a great deal about civil liberties no matter what some might claim, but I would rather be wrong on civil liberties than I would on the Virus because my mistakes can be rectified on the former

  • Peter Martin 7th Apr '20 - 11:53am

    @ matt,

    “Common Cold is a coronavirus………”

    Only occasionally.

    Well over 200 virus strains are implicated in causing the common cold, with rhinoviruses being the most common. This is largely why a vaccine to prevent colds isn’t at all easy and so far efforts have been ineffective. The vaccine would need to induce antibodies against all strains or at least the most common ones.

    Covid19 is caused by a single virus, so the prospects for a vaccine are more encouraging.

  • Tony Greaves 6th Apr ’20 – 5:46pm……………. But of course I worked out straightaway that if this London-centric rule is brought in I can always go shopping two or three times a week and walk to the furthest supermarket I can get to in say 45 minutes, then walk back with my booty. The only problem is I would have to do the shopping and that is far more problematic than walking through our local park and into the local countryside. I do hope the Liberal Democrats leadership, whoever it is now, have the courage to denounce this authoritarian nonsense………………..

    Of course you could..this is the very attitude that creates a situation that warrants more stringent action.
    Have you forgotten that, when the advice to minimise social inteerraction was advisory, the seafronts and beauty spots were inundated with visitors ignoring that advice. Boris Johnson’s dad even went public to state that ‘he’d disregard the advicenand still go down the pub’.

    This ‘authoritarian nonsense’, as you call it, is in operation in countries where the observation and respect for rules is far less than here; having lived 15+ years in rural France I can vouch for that.

    As the old joke says, “I wouldn’t have started from here” but as, for several months, this government failed to learn from the mistakes ( and successes) of other countries, ‘we are where we are’.
    If people behave sensibly there will be no need for further restriction but ‘bending the rules’ to make silly political points is unhelpful and unwelcome.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Apr '20 - 12:11pm

    Absolutely nothing in the article is based on Liberalism, this is libertarianism.

    Agree more with Matt, David Raw, John Marriot, Ruth Bright, expats. And Sir Keir, Matt Hancock.

    Do not agree with Lord Greaves, it is nothing of nonsense, to have a new rule of law based on a pandemic.

  • Peter Martin 7th Apr '20 - 12:12pm

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    “The exit strategy should be, once the peak has passed as it may well do this week in England, to begin to end the lockdown…….”

    This sounds something like Donald Trump might have suggested a couple of weeks back! To be fair to him, he does seem to be more realistic now. It’s far too optimistic. There probably won’t be a clearly identifiable peak this week or even next. It’s much more likely that it will be a flattening off and that the NHS will be under enormous pressure for the next few months.

    I’d be optimistic that a vaccine can be produced but we can’t assume anything. Even so, it won’t be this year. So we could well be in for an extended period of semi lockdown for at least several months.

  • John Marriot
    It is not a war and a vaccine is not guaranteed. There are lots of coronaviruses that there are no vaccines for. The lock down policy is primarily about preventing health services from being overwhelmed. Hence the advice is that if you have mild symptoms stay at home and only seek medical help if they become more severe. Lockdown is to an extent based on developing herd immunity in a controlled way that doesn’t swamp hospitals. If the vast majority of people who become infected survive it with mild or no symptoms at all then this suggest the human immune system is mostly already coping. Some of the countries that have used lockdowns are gradually removing them despite there be no vaccine in sight. Also, when someone uses the phrase “so called civil liberties” and quotes the dubious figure of Keiser Wilhelm II as back up, you have to wonder what other liberal value they think may be dismissed as “so called”.

  • James Baillie 7th Apr '20 - 12:37pm

    A number of people seem bizarrely to be commenting as if I was advocating completely ending the lockdown when I was literally talking about how to sustain the lockdown and ensure maximally effective virus mitigation, and acting as if the only points I made were about civil liberties, whilst completely failing to engage with the questions I raised about the healthcare and, yes, death toll that would be caused by restricting people even further, the people who’d be even more trapped with abusers and find it harder to escape, and the impossibility of enforcement of such a system for three months. It’s striking that effectively none of the people who seem to disagree with the argument I present here have anything to say about the majority of its supporting points… I would, in short, like to bring to the attention of those people the article preceding this comments section, which they seem not to have felt worthy of their attention and thought before pressing the comment button.

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Apr '20 - 12:39pm

    @Glenn
    “There are lots of coronaviruses that there are no vaccines for.”

    But are the others as easy to catch and as potentially damaging as this one?

  • When it comes to a crisis, we all accept the necessity of curbing everyday civil liberties and instituting a temporary benign dictatorship. The emphasis here is on temporary and benign. Push it too far or for too long like by trying to ban the outdoor exercise or keeping people indoors for more than a couple of weeks and it will breakdown. This is not about protecting civil liberties for the longer term, it is good old fashioned common sense. An obituary printed in the London Times:
    “Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
    Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
    Why the early bird gets the worm;
    Life isn’t always fair; and
    Maybe it was my fault.
    Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

    His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
    Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
    Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
    It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
    Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
    Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
    Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
    Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
    He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
    I Know My Rights
    I Want It Now
    Someone Else Is To Blame
    I’m A Victim
    Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

  • Phil Beesley 7th Apr '20 - 12:50pm

    expats: “Have you forgotten that, when the advice to minimise social inteerraction was advisory, the seafronts and beauty spots were inundated with visitors ignoring that advice.”

    It is worth noting that the photographs used to illustrate press stories were provided by agencies, judging by the frequency that the same images were used in different publications. If you stand around in the same place for a while, you can often photograph the crowd scene you seek. Those photos do necessarily represent how people behaved generally.

    There were also some questionable photos provided by police services. I don’t know whether these have ceased because police actions were deemed to be officious. I’m glad that we haven’t seen many new ones because they aren’t helpful.

    Take images with a pinch of salt. Remember that some newspapers will tell you that people are acting irresponsibly AND the police are over-reacting on the same day.

    Enjoy the sun today — although there was a lot of frost on car windscreens when I went out and it was still nippy. Take a break for ten minutes on a bench — hands in pockets — and give some thought to those who have nowhere to go. Think about homeless people who have been given a roof temporarily, better food perhaps, isolated because they can’t meet mates in a cafe. Or about city dwellers without a green space on their doorsteps because it is important that councils develop all brown field land.

  • Nonconformistradical
    That’s a difficult question to answer, because the main problem with Covid19 is that it’s new (or at least new to science) and thus some immune systems are not reacting as well as others. Vaccines can take years to develop or not be developed at all. The point I’m making is you can’t keep people in lockdown for month after month because the damage done to general health, living standards, and the economy will outweigh the risk from the virus. In an average year about 1600 people die a day in the UK. We will not know if Covid19 is increasing the death rate by a huge amount until after the numbers are crunched. Don’t get me wrong it’s a serious problem, but simply reporting daily numbers of deaths with little context doesn’t give you a clear over all picture. I’m just very uncomfortable with the attacks on liberties. To, be honest I think some people like the idea of it being like a war because it makes sitting in chair , twitching your curtain and thinking up ever more draconian measures seem sort of heroic or macho. There’s a large element of “lockdown some sense into them”. Also we’re at point where older people are invoking war imagery, when the only battles they were even remotely likely to have been involved in is the ones between mods and rockers in the 1960s or that time someone stole their parking space at ASDA and they had some angry words . For goodness sake we’re in an era where the first generation of rappers are beginning to hit their 60s and it’s time people of a certain age stopped the war stuff.

  • Phil Beesley 7th Apr ’20 – 12:50pm…………It is worth noting that the photographs used to illustrate press stories were provided by agencies, judging by the frequency that the same images were used in different publications. If you stand around in the same place for a while, you can often photograph the crowd scene you seek. Those photos do necessarily represent how people behaved generally………..

    I can only speak for the Suffolk/Norfolk coast; trust me, there were crowds in Southwold..
    I am lucky to live close to the sea but, even this morning whilst walking back from the beach (almost deserted) there were two large camper vans heading for the beach front; I thought the sites had been closed but there they were..

    As for your “how people behaved generally”.. it doesn’t take many to spread the virus about…. ‘Ruth Bright 6th Apr ’20 – 9:46pm’ showed three who may well be doing it; if they were careless with her, with how many others?

    The idea that these restrictions are a government plot to enforce martial law; although some are dragging in the ‘socialists’ (whoever they may be), is beyond belief..

  • When This Lousy War Is Over From Oh What A Lovely War … – YouTubewww.youtube.com › when this lousy war is over▶ 1:27
    When this lousy war is over, No more soldiering for me, When I get my civvy clothes on, Oh how happy I shall be…..

    When this lousy war with Covid 19 is over, if ever, let’s demand proper pay and conditions for the thousands of ordinary care workers who day in, day out, in all weathers, visit the infirm and the elderly to care for their needs. They are the real heroes in this less than liberal society and they take pressure off the NHS..

    Entry-level Care Workers with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of £7.95 based on 78 salaries. An early career Care Worker with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of £8.10 based on 314 salaries.15 Mar 2020.

    Compare it to the incomes of the Mike Ashleys and Tim Martins of this world. Ask, is this acceptable, and does it reflect liberal values ?

    Do we really want American Hedge Funds to determine the fate of one of the biggest UK care home groups ? Where’s that Green Paper ? There’s some profound thinking to do and some radical decisions to make.

  • Julian Tisi 7th Apr '20 - 3:08pm

    There is a balance to be had between individual liberty and collective liberty. My exercise of my right (e.g. to go outside for a walk) would not normally come into conflict with the liberties of others but it might do now. I don’t want exercise to be banned. I don’t think it’s justified if most people do comply with current guidelines. But I can fully understand the government holding out the threat or possibility that they might if we don’t.

  • @Glenn

    “To, be honest I think some people like the idea of it being like a war because it makes sitting in chair , twitching your curtain and thinking up ever more draconian measures seem sort of heroic or macho”

    Glenn, I support the lock-down measures because that is the only viable solution at the moment to keep people safe until another solution can be found.
    If you think that I am enjoying this as I am a secret authoritarian “macho” type then you are sadly mistaken. I suffer from mental health myself along with other conditions, I have had to move my elderly parents in with me because they are also in the severe risk category and because my Dad suffers from dementia, my mother could not handle the isolation alone with my Dad. I have put their needs above my own even though If I am totally honest it is a strain on my own health as I no longer have my own safe haven space to escape everyone. It is hard work looking after someone with dementia 24/7 when you have your own health to deal with and I have even more admiration for my mother now on what she has to cope with each and every day. So if you think I am getting some personal “heroic” gratification for calling for lockdowns then you can think again. This is not about me, this is about what I believe is right for everybody and the longer that this virus goes on for, the longer that the most vulnerable in society will be locked down.
    I cannot help feeling that those Fit and Well people who are complaining about loss of civil liberties and the effect that it is having on the “vulnerable” are actually using us to complain for what is really a complaint about their own circumstances and resentment to the measures.

    The oldies and the Vulnerable are digging in and getting on with it and supporting one another, I am in touch with my sisters both of whom work in nursing homes who assures me that the residents are all pulling together during these tough times and getting on with it (playing bingo and quizzes in corridors outside rooms) . I am in conversation with other residents at my Mum’s sheltered housing scheme where she was living before I moved her here and they are all being positive and doing the same. The only people who seem to be complaining and using the elderly and disabled as a smokescreen are fit and healthy.
    Now what does that say

  • Tony Greaves 7th Apr '20 - 4:21pm

    What nobody is pointing out is that all the fuss about a few people lying on the grass in a park or sitting on an otherwise empty beach – let alone a couple walking together along a public footpath in the countryside – is a diversion by people in power and their friends from the multiple cock-ups that they have made and are making and the outrage over real problems that was beginning to build up over the past week in even Tory media. “Don’t blame us – blame the people”.

  • @Tony Greaves

    I am not sure I agree with that. The Government will face their day of reckoning over this and there will be plenty of people shouting when the time is right to do so, that has to happen to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again and it will also be vital to get the government to follow a different path for the future, the economy needs steering in a different direction with much more emphasis on manufacturing at home especially for vital supplies that cannot afford to be held up in a supply chain that puts us and the NHS in danger.

    But there is just as much anger towards the general public who are either not adhering to the rules or seek to bend/stretch the rules, we are scared that the more person A) see’s Person B) doing, the More person A) will feel inclined to follow suit and before long the whole system collapses.

    I am sure that the Majority of the Elderly and Vulnerable would be of the same opinion and say we thank you for your concern for our wellbeing, but the best thing you could all do for us all right now is to stay in your homes, limit your outdoor activity and contacts and let’s get on top of this bloody Virus so that we also can get out of our homes as soon as possible, even if it is even for a few months and we end up having to go back to square one again. That is the best gift you could give us for our welfare 🙂

  • Tony Greaves 7th Apr ’20 – 4:21pm…

    Well, that is the UK situation explained…How about the French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc., etc.?

  • Richard Underhill 7th Apr '20 - 6:33pm

    Joseph Bourke 7th Apr ’20 – 5:43pm
    We should recall and repeat the advice to PM Harold Macmillan that
    “unless you have a scientific education you cannot consider yourself to be educated”,
    but be careful because Margaret Thatcher was a scientist, working for Lyons.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Apr '20 - 9:03pm

    Matt, I am actually feeling sad for you now, coping as you are with your stressful and worrying home situation but also being so distressed about this virus which you seem to see as a kind of black menacing cloud overhanging us all for the foreseeable future.

    As others have pointed out, it’s not going to keep coming back to afflict again those who have gone through it. Equally, it is not going to be destroyed. I commend the residents of the homes where your sisters work, and the residents of the sheltered housing scheme where your mother used to be, for indeed ‘being positive’ and ‘just getting on with it’, and I suggest they are showing typical British phlegm, as will most people and we should all hope to revert to.

    I don’t think the lockdown will last many weeks more without alleviation of it, because people will increasingly find it intolerable. We will learn to live with this virus, individually sometimes falling ill with it and recovering, because the cost of the lockdown in terms of people’s general health and wellbeing as well as because of the economic consequences, will become too great.

    Very best wishes to you and your family, Matt. Keep safe yourselves.

  • Matt
    I wasn’t talking about you so much as a tendency some people to shout at other people for sitting the park to long and to out do each other in the harshness proposed lockdown policies, often backed up by references to WWII. And yes I absolutely do resent the lockdown. I resent not having face to face contact with my fiends and family. I resent being told when I can go out and why. I resent the damage being done to family lives, friendships, higher education, children, general health, jobs and the economy. And I resent being told that I’ve got to agree with it and not even question whether or not it is the right policy.

  • @ Matt I was moved by your post and hope you can cope with what must be a very difficult situation. You don’t need to justify your other comments.They are justified.

    I am also struck by the naivety of some who, when discussing their fellow human beings, make comments which smack of the ‘does he take sugar?’ syndrome.

    All human beings are of value and deserve respect…… which I always thought was at the heart of being a Liberal. That form of respect seems to have passed by those who think they can just do what they like and to heck with the consequences. There is such a thing as society….. it carries obligations as well as rights.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Apr ’20 – 9:03pm…………I don’t think the lockdown will last many weeks more without alleviation of it, because people will increasingly find it intolerable……..

    I talk with friends, mainly of my age group, and I have heard far more moaning about the restrictions on LDV than from any of my outside friends…None of us like it but most of us accept that, in the circumstances, it is the best way to keep the virus away from the most vulnerable.
    The NHS is already ‘rationing’ assistance. (Channel4 news has highlighted the choices facing doctors) a surge in cases would almost certainly mean that those deemed most at risk (including the elderly..BTW I don’t mind being lumped under that heading) would die in large numbers..a delay/slow down in infections would allow ICU treatment for more within our group,,,

    Matt, my best wishes for you and your extended family

  • Expats
    Well, I’ve heard far more complaints about it than is generally acknowledged.
    I never know what to say to people about death and illness. I lost my Mum unexpectedly to a aneurism and my dad after a long illness. I was the primary carer for my Dad. If I seem cold, I’m really not. I’m just not convinced by the arguments and I will not pretend that I am.

  • Glenn 7th Apr ’20 – 11:26pmGlenn 7th Apr ’20 – 11:26pm…….. If I seem cold, I’m really not. I’m just not convinced by the arguments and I will not pretend that I am………..

    You are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine; there should not be any personal recriminations…If I sound heated it is also about my frustration and anger at this this government.
    Jeremy Hunt, a man directly responsible for the cut-backs in the NHS was one of the first to criticise the handling of the crisis…
    How many of the Tory MPs, who cheered when the nurses’ deserved payrise (of more than a 1%) was voted down in parliament, clapped on thursday?

    These ‘people’ don’t know the meaning of hypocrisy…

  • Peter Martin 8th Apr '20 - 10:31am

    @ Joe B,

    “Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense……”

    I’m surprised at a Lib Dem quoting this well known passage with some approval. You ask “His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.” But who set them in place?

    Most of the changes have been promoted in recent decades by the “liberal intelligentsia” Part of the reason that the British working class is hacked off with what should be their own party is that they have continually been lectured to on such matters. Part of it we can agree with. We don’t want to go back to the overt racism, sexism and homophobia of times past. But the feeling in the traditional working class communities is that the “liberal intelligentsia” only care about them if they are from an ethnic minority , a minority sexual orientation, or perhaps female having suffered problems from a male partner. An obsession with identity politics in other words.

    I do remember having a conversation with a teacher friend of mine, who I know was a Lib Dem voter, about closing the schools when there was just a few inches of snow on the ground. This never used to happen when we were young. But she was adamant that it was necessary to prevent injury to the children either during play time or on their way to and from school. The argument that we used to create ice slides and enjoy ourselves cut no ice (sorry about the pun) at all! And, yes, we did occasionally hurt ourselves.

    PS I should say that “sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn)” should come with the proviso that this applies at the microeconomic level only. 🙂

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Apr '20 - 11:34am

    expats, it does seem that the rate of infections slowing is the key to progress on alleviation of the lockdown. The most vulnerable must continue to have the certainty that intensive treatment will be available to them if they do have to go into hospital with the virus. But once the peak is passed, hopefully by next week, there does has to be I believe some lessening of the lockdown. The costs, as repeated by Glenn, are too high altogether for this to be continued for months to come.

    I think of the well-being costs in particular: the fears of people locked in with abusive partners, the misery of families in small city flats, the increasing depression and despair felt by many – that horrifying case of the builder who killed his family and himself because he could no longer continue his business jumps to mind – and the sadly more usual suffering of cancer patients whose necessary continuing treatment has been interrupted. So many suffering people mustn’t have to wait for mass testing to be carried out.

  • Peter Martin 8th Apr '20 - 1:18pm

    @ Katharine Pindar,

    “it does seem that the rate of infections slowing is the key to progress on alleviation of the lockdown”

    A couple of points:

    1) It’s actually more of a semi-lockdown when we compare restrictions in the UK to elsewhere in Europe.

    2) The reason we, hopefully, will see a slowdown in the infection rate is because of these restrictions. This will mean they are working. It doesn’t follow that we should therefore stop doing something that is seen to work.

    I realise that isn’t offering an exit strategy, but at the moment I’m not sure there is one.

  • Peter Watson 8th Apr '20 - 2:09pm

    “This is where the Liberal Democrats have to come into the picture, loud and clear.”
    Saying what “loud and clear”?
    I can’t tell from the article which mostly seems to be saying Tories are bad for stating rules might be tightened if too many people ignore them, Labour are just as bad for agreeing, and Lib Dems would do something different but can’t say / won’t say what.
    Apart from whinging about Con/Lab/SNP I don’t hear anything “loud and clear” from the party.

  • Joe Bourke – “The Spanish flu came in waves over three years from1918 to 1920. The cure is either immunity for those who have been infected and survived or a vaccine if and when one is developed.” – in 1918 we did not have testing. In 2020, we can mass test people. So, once the curve is bended, we can gradually loosen restrictions and use the mass testing (10000 per day), tracing (via mobile phones and credit cards) and isolating “search and destroy” strategy, combined with mandatory quarantine of all travels (between regions, from another country…), to neutralize a potential second wave.

    Btw, any scenario that results in herd immunity without strict social distancing measures will definitely overload the NHS.

  • Peter Martin – “I realise that isn’t offering an exit strategy, but at the moment I’m not sure there is one” – there is a clear exit strategy: look at what Korea and Taiwan are doing. So, you will gradually loosen restrictions after R0 drops to below 1, but very gradually. However, mandatory quarantine of all long-distanced travels, domestic and international alike, must remain. Next, keep a large testinf capacity to be ready for the second wave, and approve tracking people using credit cards and mobile phones – you can form a specialized police squad to track them. When the first few cases of the second wave are reported, test-test-test, trace and isolate, that’s it. Reimpose strict social distancing if case count reaches 100 again. If we do these things, a second wave will die out quickly.

  • Peter Martin 8th Apr '20 - 3:37pm

    @ Thomas,

    Yes I think you are right in both your replies to Joe and myself.

    The problem could well be the “Libertarians” who might have strong objections to mandatory quarantining of detected cases especially if the those being quarantined are only showing very minor symptoms.

    I’m reminded of the story of “Typhoid Mary” who was an asymptomatic carrier. I’m quite clear that it was right to compulsorily detain her but others may disagree.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mallon

  • @Katharine, David, Expats

    Thank you for your well wishes, they are appreciated.

    “As others have pointed out, it’s not going to keep coming back to afflict again those who have gone through it.”
    I do hope you’re right Katharine but I fear you are not, without a vaccine this Virus will keep coming back. Each year the elderly and vulnerable are given a flu vaccine from an inactivated virus, those that do not get vaccinated “can” get the flu each flu season as the virus develops new strands, I presently do not see this coronavirus being any different as we already know that after just a couple of months it has developed new stands. So it seems logical we will see this Virus continue to raise its the ugly head which will require intensive monitoring, tracking and tracing which is going to impose on some civil liberties. It is probably going to require future lockdowns again until a viable vaccine or effective antiviral treatments can be found. So until they are found, yes I do very much see this as a ” black menacing cloud overhanging us all for the foreseeable future.”

    @Peter Martin
    “2) The reason we, hopefully, will see a slowdown in the infection rate is because of these restrictions. This will mean they are working. It doesn’t follow that we should therefore stop doing something that is seen to work.”

    Absolutely agree, the government would be crazy to have gone through the pain of locking down only to lift the lid to quickly and end up back at square one, we would have then taken all of the pain with zero rewards.

    Of course, we need to get back to some form of normality as soon as possible, but that can not take place until the infrastructure is in place to test, test, test, trace, track and isolate and a viable antibody test.
    I imagine there will be restrictions on businesses that involve “socialising” for some time to come.
    Governments and Businesses need to be planning on how they can rebuild our economy with much more emphasis on manufacturing here in the UK, out of all tragedies there are always lessons to learn and opportunities to be gained.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Apr '20 - 8:31pm

    Peter Martin – the Libertarian side of this is a red herring. OK, so on principle they won’t use the app etc. So whenever they want to use transport/go to a shop etc they will be asked for a temperature check and a green rating on the app. No check and no app = no access. That’s not hard to manage really. There is a privacy implication here, but we are well beyond that now. The longer-term implication is a bit more worrying. A cashless society for example is a truly scary idea. That however is for another day.

    The bigger question here is about the point at which more people will die as a result of the shutdown than of virus. That’s a far from theoretical debate and in poorer countries that point will likely be with us very soon. There are mental health issues too, long-term that will be a huge coming issue, we may yet see as many breakdowns as virus deaths.

    My guess is that we will carry on with designated covid hospitals, carry on increasing ventilator capacity markedly and (drug trials depending) improve treatments markedly. Tracing will be necessary. International travel will be off the table for much of the decade and with that we might see ‘deglobalisation.’ Social gatherings will be limited according to floorspace or similar. The damage to civil society will be horrendous.

    Not great at all, but without a vaccine there’s not much in the way of an alternative. The ebola vaccine took 5 years, and it’s far from theoretical we will have to wait that long for the covid vaccine. I doubt we can shut down the world for five months, never mind five years.

  • @ Matt Good to hear from you, Matt, and wishing you well.

    There will be a lot to learn from this whole business. One immediate thing ought to be to scrutinise the criteria for who is on the so-called ‘vulnerable’ list. As it happens (post-transplant) I’m on it… but there are many other categories of people much more needy than me who are not on it, including, for example, the autistic. The list needs to be reviewed… and quick.

    Someone not on the list is one of my local heroes from the Borders, the former Scottish Rugby international DODDIE WEIR.

    Doddie has M.N.D. Today, he sent a tweet to Mr Hancock …. could Christine Jardine take it up or maybe Archie Kirkwood or Jeremy Purvis ? The message is on Doddie’s twitter account today. A brave generous man- who always thinks of others.

    Doddie Weir, Twitter account : “I have a message for @MattHancock at @DHSCgovuk asking him to #GetMNDonTheList Down pointing backhand index #Covid19 #MND
    0:48 5:01 PM · Apr 8, 2020·Twitter Web App

  • @David

    Good to hear from you as well and am glad that you and your loved ones are keeping safe.
    One thing that has heartened me in the last few weeks is the support that we have shown each other on LDV, even though we sometimes do not agree on every issue with our politics, we are still like a little community looking out for one another and showing care and compassion to each other in these worrying times. There is so much more that unites us on a human level than what divides us on a political that it gives me much hope for our futures. So I thank you all for that.

    With regards to your point, I very much agree, there are so many vulnerable at risk people not on the list that gives me a lot of concern.
    My mother is on the list as she has COPD, but my father was not on the list despite having a heart condition and dementia.
    It is the Dementia that really troubles me with this virus because when someone had dementia and they get an infection, this can bring on delirium and in a lot of cases a dementia patient does not bounce back from this, it causes a rapid deterioration in the disease, it can take someone from Mild onset of dementia to the advance stages in a matter of days ( I saw it happen with my father in law in Australia literally overnight)
    It was the most frightening experience I have ever seen and even though my own father had dementia I never knew that an infection could cause this.
    I have since written to Public health England on the matter and never received a reply because I worry that many families living with dementia, especially in the early stages have a plan of all the things that they would like to do whilst they still have the opportunity and before the disease robs them of the opportunity, it is important to build as many happy memories for the relatives as possible.
    It, therefore, upsets me that many families may be robbed of those opportunities because this virus has the potential to accelerate the disease. There are currently 800,000 people living in the uk with dementia.
    So I felt that Public Health England should have been including these people in the shielding and providing better advice to families not just for the potential medical and social costs of treating someone in the advance stages of dementia but also the human costs.

  • Driving into Lowestoft yesterday, my first ‘shop’ for 11 days, I saw a group of 8-10 teenage girls, dressed for the warm weather, milling about on the path..No distancing as they went along so they obviously believe that they are immune both from the rules and the virus..
    Have they, or theirr families, no notion of what is happening?

  • Peter Martin 9th Apr '20 - 9:36am

    “they obviously believe that they are immune both from the rules and the virus.”

    They aren’t quite immune from the virus. However they are 99.8% safe. Covid 19 is not much worse for them than the ‘flu with a death rate of just 0.2% and it’s going to be much lower than that if they are in reasonably good health.

    So we shouldn’t be too hard on our young people. We are asking a lot just at the moment.

    https://www.statista.com/chart/20860/coronavirus-fatality-rate-by-age/

  • Peter Watson 9th Apr '20 - 10:30am

    @Peter Martin “We are asking a lot just at the moment.”
    But obviously one of the things we are asking is for them not to pass coronavirus on to their older relatives, no matter how safe those younger people are.

  • Greater Manchester police last weekend
    “The force said there were 1,132 coronavirus-related breaches reported between Saturday and Tuesday, including 494 house parties – some with DJs and fireworks – as well as 166 street parties.”

    If that is not a reason to enforce tighter lockdown restrictions I don’t know what is.

    How on earth are we supposed to get on top of this virus and get the transmission rate down when you have these sort of numbers in just one area flouting the rules.

    Under normal circumstances, we might not like police overusing powers but this is a national emergency that is costing lives, the NHS and the economy. It is time to get tough for the greater good

  • Peter Martin 9th Apr ’20 – 9:36am…

    Do you think these young girls live in isolation? They can/will pass it to parents and older relations who won’t be as safe..
    Info from a friend in France..”When Macron ordered lock-down there were still some miscreants breaking the regs in in Perpignan so the Mairie promptly ordered a 2000 to 0500 curfew which is still ongoing.”

    As Matt points out ‘parties with DJs etc. I really wonder about the ‘common sense’ of large chunks of the population..That includes the disgraced Scottish medical chief who actually posted online pictures of herself outside her second home; a definite contender for the ‘Darwin Award’..

    BTW..Boris’s letter has just (literally) arrived..My wife’s reaction ..”An expensive way of stating the b****y obvious…

  • James Fowler 12th Apr '20 - 10:04am

    @James Baillie. Completely agree, well said.

  • Expats ” who actually posted online pictures of herself outside her second home”.

    Not so, It was done by the neighbour……. What she did in going to Fife was indefensible but at least she had the sense to fall on her sword…… unlike Robert Jenrick Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government in the Johnson Cabinet.

  • An important part of this issue is the uncertainty of our infection status and that of the others in our vicinity. We are applying rules to populations of mixed immunity and infectiousness. The media has moved the emphasis to the provision of PPE. Testing more and using the results is as important.

  • Yeovil Yokel 12th Apr '20 - 12:42pm

    Peter Martin – those statistics you cite are from China, not Lowestoft – expats makes a valid point, as does Peter Hirst.
    This morning I observed a frail and elderly neighbour who is self-isolating being visited by her granddaughter who stood chatting with her on the doorstep about 1m apart for 15 mins. before driving away. I looked on the Avon & Somerset Crimestoppers’ website for guidance on whether to report this, and it said they could only record and pass on to the police the most serious life-threatening cases because they were being overwhelmed with reports of breaches of the law. I wouldn’t be at all comfortable grassing on my neighbour or want to risk upsetting her through a direct intervention, and I’m in a dilemma over what to do to stop a repeat of this risky behaviour. So I’ve done nothing – but I don’t feel comfortable about inaction either.

  • David Raw 12th Apr ’20 – 11:03am……..Expats ” who actually posted online pictures of herself outside her second home”………..Not so, It was done by the neighbour……. What she did in going to Fife was indefensible but at least she had the sense to fall on her sword…… unlike Robert Jenrick Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government in the Johnson Cabinet……….

    My error, David, but the explanation, for Jenrick’s refusal to go, is in your last two words,,,
    If it turned out he’d been at Kyle Walker’s party he’d still try and hang on..

  • Richard Underhill 12th Apr '20 - 2:10pm

    Tony Greaves 7th Apr ’20 – 4:21pm
    Boris Johnson has been released from hospital (BBC Radio 4 World at One, 12/4/2020)
    Is he responsible for the early inaction and ineffectiveness of the current government?
    Would he support a financial bonus for medical staff?

  • Richard Underhill. 12th Apr '20 - 2:13pm

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