Last minute Northern lockdown is “beyond comprehension”

Responding to the Government’s change in guidance stating that separate households will not be able to meet indoors from today in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster. To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

Considering their ability to tackle this pandemic relies on the clarity of messaging coming from the Government, it is unsurprising that just yesterday it was announced that England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe. If the Government want the British public to follow the rules they are announcing, then they must be clear, ahead of time, and they must have forewarned local authorities.

It remains unclear at what point Boris Johnson’s Government will finally manage to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis. Yet more mistakes reveal how necessary it is for an inquiry to be launched now – so that Ministers can learn the lessons ahead of a potential second wave.

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34 Comments

  • Peter Martin 31st Jul '20 - 12:03pm

    It was a mistake to re-allow household visits in the first place. So the sooner that decision was reversed the better. There was no need to wait. It should be made National policy too. They don’t help the national economy. People still usually have the option of meeting up in public areas.

    What can start off as an innocuous visit by a few friends in the garden can quickly turn into an indoor party as it starts to rain and the alcohol flows.

  • If it was not known already this is another example of the inadequacy of this government and its response to the on going crisis caused by the pandemic.

  • I have an alternative view. Johnson was condemned on child poverty. Hours later he announces a lock down. A way of diverting attention to a more media interest story.The govnt holds all the information to themselves and releases it suddenly to change the story. It can be a way of manipulating the public. On passed experience of Johnson,s govnt I would not be surprised.

  • I wonder how the timing of this decision by the government is being perceived by those celebrating Eid today….

  • This also makes life difficult for those of us, and there are many, who have two partners/families and live say 3 days a week with one partner and 4 days with the other on a regular bases.

  • John Marriott 31st Jul '20 - 1:29pm

    It looks increasingly likely that Johnson’s “Back to normal by Christmas” needs to be ditched. That’s why being so sure about anything is a very dangerous policy. So I just wish that politicians would just stop trying to score points off each other.

    Without wishing to encourage our anonymous COVID contributors to man the barricades again, I just wish that, with or without masks and ‘social distancing’, with light or dark skin, whether homeless or living in a stately home, with or without ‘underlying health issues’, this virus is a stubborn son of a bitch and spares nobody. Did all those people so anxious to absorb the Mediterranean sunshine REALLY think that it had gone away? As for those desperate to have a pint with friends, well!

    We have found better ways of treating it and hopefully keeping the death rate lower than earlier in the year and might be on the way to finding a vaccine. However, it’s still out there and might be there, like ‘flu, or ever.

    So, colleagues, if you think that life will eventually go ‘back to normal’, you might be disappointed. Speaking personally, I’d be perfectly willing to accept a new kind of normal, especially if it led to better social cohesion and more people behaving less selfishly. If you really do believe that the reaction to COVID-19 is a fiendish way of controlling human behaviour, then I feel sorry for you.

  • Barry Lofty 31st Jul '20 - 2:33pm

    This COVID crises has not gone away,I wish it had, and the reaction of certain citizens of the UK go way beyond my comprehension, but some of that behaviour and its ramifications must be born by the government’s mixed messages and instructions which can vary on a day to day basis.

  • Peter Martin 31st Jul '20 - 3:00pm

    @ Clare,

    “I wonder how the timing of this decision by the government is being perceived by those celebrating Eid today….”

    You’ve noticed the connection. Its not a coincidence.

    I was thinking of mentioning it in my first comment. But, my ‘inside information’ is that the Asian community isn’t taking the precautions it should. Which is why the recent Covid hotpots have tended mainly to be in areas where the Asian population forms a high percentage of the population.

    Generally there seems to be an assumption that anything which falls within the Govt guidelines is safe. That’s not the case at all. Its just less dangerous than it used to be. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

  • Should not have stopped shielding for elderly or ill, should not have encouraged staycations and should have emphasized that wearing a mask does not mean social distancing is not needed. Oh, and should have been no exceptions for people who can’t wear masks when inside supermarkets, etc.

    Don’t see how schools can reopen, either, other than if you have a closed system where teachers and kids stay at the school 24/7.

    Looks like the UK is the worst hit in Europe because Brits got it on holiday and then spread it right through the country rather than in “small” pockets as per many Euro countries.

    Limiting people’s holiday to as far as they can cycle is surely the Green solution but not a vote winner.

  • The whole thing is a farce of hysterical overreach and unenforceable rules that people, including a number of those demanding them, have only loosely followed right from the start. Matt Hancock has no real power whatsoever. The only thing this CCP inspired political fad has achieved is wrecking the country. The problem now is that some people have invested so much in the fantasy of “the new normal” that they can’t give up on it and they’re trying to make sure no one else can. It’s an utterly pointless and failed exercise in state control from start to finish. It’s the modern equivalent of those soviet era five year plans that never worked either.

  • I’m very sorry to have to say this, Glenn, but I think you’re a master of, ” hysterical overreach”.

  • David Raw
    Meh, whatever.

  • Sometimes in this world you just have to bite the bullet and go for it. There is point of view that says, if it had been announced, say from next Wednesday the there would have been an outcry which may have got the policy ditched, with consequences we do not know and might later severely regret. The next thing is to close the pubs again, a hotbed of the virus. In the meantime see that Spain has reached over 3,000 new cases to day! That is what six times what it was a week ago, at this sort of rate mayhem is again on the way, whilst Sweden is very, very close to having a higher rate of death than, Italy per level of the population.

  • Antony Watts 1st Aug '20 - 8:02am

    What about a really simple system?

    RED
    YELLOW
    GREEN

    with specific fixed rules for each colour. Then just parcelout the map of UK and publish it.

  • @Anthony Watts.
    Don’t worry, there will still be those complaining your traffic light system is too complex !

  • John Marriott 1st Aug '20 - 10:13am

    @Anthony Watts
    Great idea, however, isn’t red a Labour colour? And we all know where green belongs. So, as there’s no blue, let’s stay on yellow. After all that’s just about a Lib Dem colour and signifies the good old Liberal stance of facing both ways. Or is that actually waiting and expecting something to happen?

  • Barry Lofty 1st Aug '20 - 12:11pm

    Until track and Trace is up and running with a degree of confidence in the running of it, or better still, a tried and tested vaccine, we are all in the hands of an incompetent government and only left with our own common sense!

  • Sue Sutherland 1st Aug '20 - 2:46pm

    Munira is absolutely right. There has been a bit of discussion about the effects of Covid on mental health. With the prospect of a rare sunny day we had arranged a family get together in our garden for Friday afternoon. Late in the evening I was reading messages from our local Lib Dem WhatsApp group and discovered the whole of Greater Manchester was being locked down the following day but there was a bit of confusion as to whether families meeting in gardens was OK. When I woke up late the following morning it became apparent that we couldn’t meet up with our children and grandchildren that afternoon. To say that I was upset is an understatement. Fortunately my family reassured me that there would be more sunny days when we could get together as a family. Our grandchildren are quite young so the time spent apart has meant that we have missed significant developments in their abilities. If my mental health was less robust and if I lived on my own this sudden change in the rules might well have made me feel suicidal.
    With regard to Asian families I watched the local news the evening that lockdown was announced on Twitter – community leaders were being very responsible and advising people to celebrate Eid in their individual homes. People have commented that Hancock’s action was like telling us on Christmas Eve that Christmas was cancelled.
    I’m very wary of anything that suggests Asian people are responsible for the way in which the pandemic has affected them, because this would give a convenient excuse to the Government wouldn’t it? In fact Trafford, which is where I live, has an increasing rate of illness but it’s mostly in the more affluent areas and a much younger age group.
    The government has responded in a panic by firing a blunderbuss but we will obey their rules and hope they achieve something.

  • John Marriott 1st Aug '20 - 3:32pm

    As I’ve said before, could the susceptibility to viruses like COVID-19 actually have something to do with the colour of your skin? We all have a weakness, often do to genetics. The men on both sides of my family, for example, seem to suffer from heart problems (I’ve been taking medication for hypertension for years).

    They say that having high levels of Vitamin D, which is usually absorbed by exposure to sunlight, helps to boost your body’s immune system. Apparently, the darker your skin, the harder it is for your body to absorb Vitamin D. My wife and I have been taking Vitamin D tablets for quite a while, just to make sure we get what we need. Hopefully nobody thinks I’m being racist. I’m just being curious.

  • Whatever people thought of the original lockdown in March, it is time for liberal minded people to stand up and oppose these short notice, local lockdowns. The effect on people with mental health problems and people who rely on support networks for whatever reason will be very severe. If we want to claim that all lives are equal then what about the lives of people affected most by isolation?

    Back in March there was a very real fear of the NHS being overwhelmed but the situation has changed since then and our understanding of the virus is better. The threat to the NHS especially intensive care units is lower than expected which makes some of the decisions taken back in March look like poor ones.

    And what is the basis for saying there is a spike? If there is an increase in infections it hasnt resulted in an increase in the death rate so has the virus become less virulent? Or has increased testing simply led to more cases being picked up?

    Either way it is time for a Liberal politician to stand up and be counted and bravely speak out against the government’s misguided policy just as Charles Kennedy did on Iraq.

  • @Marco

    No matter how many times you have it pointed out to you, you refuse to ackowledge facts and other peoples arguments.

    “The threat to the NHS especially intensive care units is lower than expected which makes some of the decisions taken back in March look like poor ones.
    The threat to the NHS was never just about capacity, but sustainability of staff to work under such conditions for prolongued periods of time.
    Demands on ICU was only reduced by intoducing lockdowns, otherwise it would have been overwhelmed and collapssed.
    We were told 20,000 deaths would have been a good result, we more than doubled that already.

    “And what is the basis for saying there is a spike? If there is an increase in infections it hasnt resulted in an increase in the death rate so has the virus become less virulent?”
    As has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions which you chose to ignore, deaths occur a month after infection, so we will not start to see the hospital rate increases until 2 weeks after infection and then a further 2 weeks for deaths to occuur, so the consequences of the new infections will not be known for another month
    Pensioners and vulnerable people have had shielding paused as of today, you can expect to see a rise in hospital admissions and deaths over the next month as these people become more exposed to the virus.

    By the way, there are plenty of studies already that show the long term damage that has been done to people who have only contracted a mild form of covid, damages to peoples Lungs and heart muscles that look very similar to someone who has suffered a heart attack. There is a real fear that this covid is going to have long term health implicaions for many people who were not even that badly affected by the disease itself but will suffer long term consequences from heart and lung conditions.

    Governments around the world are hardly going to be taking draconian measures that is affecting the economies unless it was really necessary, but you carry on with your fellow tin foil hat conspiracies about a new world order or whatever mumbo jumobo it is you all believe in and lets just hope you or your loved ones dont end up with some life limiting lifelong disability

  • I suspect they just test British Asian communities more and the Tories know a lot of their grassroots voters will lap up anything that can be used to demonises ethnic minorities.
    I think the whole idea that coronavirus is bringing people together is a fantasy. Really. it’s just instilling fear and branding people as carriers of lurgies. It’s not about empathy and togetherness, it’s about seeing people as a threat.

  • Peter Martin 1st Aug '20 - 10:32pm

    @ expats,

    I agree. It’s not partying on the beach. It’s more the practices which have been going on in unregulated workplaces. No shutdowns. No social distancing. The exploitation has largely been of Asian workers by Asian bosses. There has been little attempt to enforce the law. Minimum wages aren’t paid, workers are paid in cash, record keeping is poor and so the companies and workers don’t qualify for furlough payments.

    On this Priti Patel is probably right. It’s the fear of being labelled racist that has stopped many from taking action. Of course, the Labour point of cuts to the regulators and the lack of any official support for the Trades Unions is valid too.

    It looks to me that someone in the Govt realised with just a day or two to spare that Eid was coming up and they reacted to stop large social gatherings.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jul/12/priti-patel-criticised-for-blaming-cultural-sensitivities-for-leicester-covid-19-spike

  • A lot of the comments are showing how ungracious we have become as a society.

    There should not be a “one size fits approach” to tackling his virus. People have been generally acting responsibly, only a few spoiling it for everyone … but it seems that no-one is grasping how much this new lockdown is a disappointment to millions of people across the north of England – I wonder how many of the commentators are actually affected (I am!) or just pontificating.

  • Nonconformistradical 2nd Aug '20 - 10:39am

    @Rob K-B
    Not sure what your point is.

    While a lot of people have been acting responsibly, from what we can see on TV news it seems more than a few have been acting pretty irresponsibly – not social distancing etc. and not taking on board the issue that they just might pick up the virus and be asymptomatic – so having no real idea they’re carrying it and take it home to their grandparents or whoever. Letting down totally those who have been acting responsibly. If the beach or car park is already packed out go somewhere else!

    And we do need a better understanding of how the clusters in various places are breaking out. Just blaming it on particular communities isn’t good enough unless and until we have proper evidence to support that theory. If there have been cases of exploitation in factories – in whatever communities – those responsible need to have the book thrown at them.

  • @Matt

    As usual you assume that things were done for the reasons you think they should have been done not why they were actually done and you assume people are making arguments that they are not actually making.

    “The threat to the NHS was never just about capacity, but sustainability of staff to work under such conditions for prolongued periods of time.”

    The NHS was not overwhelmed or close to being overwhelmed in terms of either beds or staff capacity.

    “Demands on ICU was only reduced by intoducing lockdowns, otherwise it would have been overwhelmed and collapssed“

    What is your evidence for this? Countries that didn’t lock down eg Sweden found their health service wasn’t overwhelmed either. If this had been known back in March far fewer countries would have locked down.

    “As has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions which you chose to ignore, deaths occur a month after infection”

    Many European countries Eg Denmark, Austria lofted restrictions well over 1 month ago with no spike in death rates. Nor did the protests lead to a spike.

    In any case if there is a genuine spike this should demonstrates that lockdowns push cases into the future so further lockdowns would put cases even further to the future ie winter so are not the answer.

    “By the way, there are plenty of studies already that show the long term damage that has been done to people who have only contracted a mild form of covid, damages to peoples Lungs and heart muscles”

    How many studies? Link to them please. Sounds like one scaremongering story that you probably read in the Guardian.

    In general, people who spread panic and fear about the disease unnecessarily should be stigmatised just as much as people who spread daft 5G conspiracy theories.

    Once again, you have no answer to the point that the policies you defend so staunchly are likely to cause avoidable deaths from suicide, domestic abuse and people not accessing healthcare.

  • @ Marco When are you going to accept that Denmark started lock down TEN DAYS before the UK ?

    Coronavirus: Denmark and Norway exclude Sweden from …www.bbc.co.uk › news › world-europe-52853556
    29 May 2020 – Denmark is also opening up tourism with Germany and Iceland, within limits. Tourists from those countries cannot stay the night in Copenhagen, …

    Sweden excluded as neighbours Denmark and Norway ease …uk.reuters.com › article › uk-health-coronavirus-nordics
    29 May 2020 – OSLO/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Norway and Denmark will allow tourists to travel between the two countries from mid-June, their …

  • Marco
    Don’t you know that this virus is so deadly that you might be walking around with no ill effects and not even know you’ve got it. But if you do test positive, sadly, the grim news is that you should sit at home and not bother the NHS. In other words this plague is exactly like the black death or The Walking Dead and that’s why it’s worth destroying the fabric of society to beat it.

  • @Marco

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882881/2020-05-03_COVID-19_Press_Conference_Slides__5_.pdf
    The reason it did not reach capacity was because of the lockdown measures and shielding 2 million vulnerable people, is that really so hard to understand. What do you think would have happened where we not to had any lockdown measures that your ilk protest about.
    Elective surgery was cancelled, operating theatres and other wards were all converted into ICU Wards in order to increase capacity, were we not to have done any of these measures then the NHS would have been overwhelmed.
    “Many European countries Eg Denmark, Austria lofted restrictions well over 1 month ago with no spike in death rates. Nor did the protests lead to a spike.”
    And like I have said, 2 million of the most vulnerable people were shielding up until yesterday, that has all now ended. My argument has been that we all have to accept some measures of lockdown and social distancing and loss of liberty so that everyone can lead as close life to normal including the 2 million vulnerable people, or do you believe your liberty is more important than theirs?

    The Government has tried to introduce rules and safety measures so that EVERYONE can at least try to get back to as near normal as possible as safely as possible with some curbs on liberties. But it is people like yourself who are hell bent on protesting against any measures, hence the reason we are seeing illegal street parties, overcrowded pubs that are ignoring social distancing measures put in place in order to try and make things safe and contact tracing measures. You clearly have no regard for elderly and vulnerable and you put your liberty above those of others which to my mind can never be liberal.

    https://www.statnews.com/2020/07/27/covid19-concerns-about-lasting-heart-damage/
    https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/heart-damage-recovered-covid19-patients-coronavirus/
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/08/warning-of-serious-brain-disorders-in-people-with-mild-covid-symptoms
    https://www.hospimedica.com/covid-19/articles/294783457/covid-19-neurological-complications-could-cause-long-term-brain-damage-in-recovered-patients-warn-researchers.html
    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200622-the-long-term-effects-of-covid-19-infection

  • @ Matt

    Let me make something clear – people criticising the government is not the same as breaking the rules. I and most other people follow all of the laws even where they are probably unnecessary and encourage other people to do the same. Now that has been explained to you hopefully you won’t repeat your previous ignorant comments.

    Your link is to slides from a government press conference and does not make any case whatsoever.

    The reason why lockdown was unnecessary is partly because people were already complying voluntarily with social distancing measures, partly because the peak of infections had already been passed and partly because the fears of capacity being overwhelmed were not well founded.

    Cancelling other forms of healthcare was a catastrophic decision that did not need to be made and will probably lead to thousands of avoidable deaths.

    The links to the study on long term damage are all ultimately from the same study just reported in different places. The scientific gold standard is a systematic review of all the available evidence.

    Your comments about shielding still don’t make sense to me. In case you hadn’t realised lockdown would apply to everyone (unless you envisage that everyone would be locked down apart from those people who were shielding) however despite the alleged spikes the infection rates are clearly very low compared to March and some scientists believe herd immunity has already been reached and therefore they consider that it is now safe for shielding to end

    It has become quite boring just going round in circles probably for other readers as well so my final comment on the issue is where you say:

    “Governments around the world are hardly going to be taking draconian measures that is affecting the economies unless it was really necessary”

    That is your worldview and it is a deeply authoritarian and illiberal one at that.

    As a liberal I believe that governments are prone to enact unnecessary draconian policies for various reasons and we therefore need to question them and hold them to account.

    I also believe that most people are inherently trustworthy and can be counted on to do the right thing in a crisis. That is ultimately why I had an instinctive dislike of the lockdown policies that were introduced.

  • @Marco
    We are not just arguing about lock-down measures, we are arguing about social distancing measures, ace masks, the whole lot which you and your ilk appose.

    “The reason why lockdown was unnecessary is partly because people were already complying voluntarily with social distancing measures”

    You must have access to different tv channels and media resouces than the rest of us because there was certainly no mass complaince from what I saw, hence the reason to go into lock-down on march 21st and it only takes a minority to flout the rules to cause significant spikes in community transmissions.

    Where is your evidence to prove that ICU capacity would not have been overwhelmed without lock-down measures imposed? You cannot keep trumping out the same claims without providing proof, so as you seem to like links, provide some on UK data that proves your claims.

    “however despite the alleged spikes the infection rates are clearly very low compared to March”
    You are wrong again, we have a higher rate of infections now than what we did when we went into lockdown on March 21st, check your facts.

    “Your comments about shielding still don’t make sense to me. In case you hadn’t realised lockdown would apply to everyone (unless you envisage that everyone would be locked down apart from those people who were shielding”
    I repeat the arguments I have been making have not just been about lock-down but about enforcing social distancing measures which enable us to not have lokdowns and allow the vulnerable people to live as close to a normal life as possible, but you and the likes of Glenn have been arguing against these measures have you not?

    When you are capable of making a coherant argument that shows us how clinically vulnerable people can also be included in going about life as risk free as possible without them being singled out for having curbs on their civil liberties and without them having to make a choice on seeing loved ones and getting outdoors as risk free as possible or forcing them to take the risks and exposing themself to potential death, then I will take you a bit more seriously.

    Awaiting your learned answer!!!!!

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Aug '20 - 10:01pm

    Thank you, Munira. As a resident of East Lancs, I say firmly that the whole thing is a ridiculous, shambolic nonsense. It is more diversionary stuff from a government full of incompetent clots (whose scientific “advisers” are not much better). (Anyway I got home at 2am on the Friday morning having driven up from London to find our house full of an illegal gathering – all fast asleep!)

  • Peter Martin 3rd Aug '20 - 9:52am

    If anyone thinks the recent slight tightening of restrictions is unnecessary, if the scientific advisers to the government are a bunch of ” incompetent clots” they might want to take a look at this graph and visualise what it might have looked like without the lockdown.

    Of course anyone taking their cue from the climate change denier fraternity would argue that “correlation doesn’t prove cause” or whatever. It would have all just happened anyway. Sure it would! But anyone, with any intelligence, looking at the graph will see that there was a problem developing in late March which led to the need for a lockdown. In just a couple of weeks the death rate had peaked and then started to fall steadily.

    It’s turned out to be much better than many (including myself) feared. We’d be foolish to throw that progress away by being complacent now.

    https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2020/08/02/14/31474350-8585307-image-a-10_1596374397126.jpg

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