Lockdown 3: Is it enough?

Matt Hancock tells us to 'stay home'
The new message this week was: "Act like you have got the virus" - but the restrictions and guidance don't match that command.

Lockdown 3 is now underway – but is it enough?

It’s a question many are asking as cases and death rates in the UK continue to rise and pressure mounts on the Government to tighten lockdown rules.

It seems bizarre that while virus rates are worse than in the first lockdown, the restrictions are less stringent.

For example, nurseries are still open and more children are at school because the definition of key worker has been expanded.

A ghost – or empty – bus in York’s Piccadilly today

This means more people are moving around and mixing more. We are also allowed to meet one other person for exercise purposes – and support bubbles are still allowed too.

Although while I am out having my daily walk in York, the streets are quite empty and buses look as ghostly as those I wrote about in lockdown 1.

Lockdown 3: Is it enough?

The Government is coming under pressure to do more and act faster to bring down virus cases and deaths.

Ministers have not ruled out taking tougher action but you feel they are holding their breath to see the full impact of the new restrictions which only came into place six days ago on Wednesday, January 6.

Matt Hancock, health secretary, telling us to ‘stay home’ at the daily briefing yesterday

It might take at least another week before we see whether they can let out a sigh of relief – that the restrictions have been enough.

If rates don’t start to level off or fall in a week or so, the Government will have no option but to take tougher action.

Many will say this is too late and that the Government is behind the curve – yet again.

We will know who is right soon.

Lockdown 3: Whose law is it anyway?

Meanwhile organisations are taking it into their own hands to get tougher on perceived rule breakers.

One well documented case was of the Derbyshire police stopping two friends who met five miles from home to have a walk. The women were carrying a hot drink, which officers deemed amounted to a ‘picnic’. The women were each fined £200, but the hoo-ha over the story led to the fines being withdrawn.

However, police forces across the UK are getting tougher on perceived rule breakers and issuing hefty fines.

Over the past weekend, North Yorkshire Police issued 70 fixed penalty notices for breaches of the Covid regulations. These included people having house parties in Scarborough. Yes, that was plural.

And this week supermarkets have announced they are going to be stricter with customers. No mask, no entry is the message coming from the likes of Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, while social distancing measures are to be enforced too,

To be honest, the supermarkets should have been enforcing this all along. It has been compulsory to wear a mask in a shop since late July.

There are exemptions for people who have medical reasons not to wear a masks – let’s hope this new crackdown is not an excuse to pick on this sector of society.

Sadly, I think that is too much to ask for as the public seem in a fighting mood.

Lockdown 3: the blame game

The government needs to be careful not to pitch people against each other in this battle against Covid-19.

It is walking on very thin ice at the moment with its repeated ‘stay home’ message while still allowing more people out to work, keeping nurseries open and allowing limited social mixing, albeit one-to-one for exercise purposes.

The new message this week was: “Act like you have got the virus” – but the restrictions and guidance don’t match that command.

If the government really wants us to act as we have the virus then everyone would literally have to stay at home as we would all be self isolating.

That is just not practical. We need key workers to do their jobs.

As for everyone else, well, yes, we could stay at home. 24/7. We’ve never had such a strict lockdown, but other countries have.

We should know in a week or two whether this will be command rather than a choice.

Facts of the day

Cases worldwide: 91,266,225

Deaths worldwide: 1,954,383

Cases UK: 3,164,051

Deaths UK: 83,203

Key developments:

  • The BBC reports how the pandemic has caused excess deaths to rise to their highest level in the UK since World War Two. There were close to 697,000 deaths in 2020 – nearly 85,000 more than would be expected based on the average in the previous five years. This represents an increase of 14 per cent, making it the largest rise in excess deaths for more than 75 years.
  • A row has broken out about meagre rations being sent to children eligible for the government’s £30 food voucher scheme with some claiming the food parcels are worth little more than £5.
  • The Press in York reports tonight that data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that York’s weekly rate is now 637.6 people per 100,000, which is almost eight higher than England’s average weekly rate at 629.9. This also means that York’s rate is now almost 11 times higher than it was a month ago in December, when it reached as low as 59 people per 100,000.
  • The data shows that a further 154 cases have been recorded in the City of York Council area, taking the total for the whole pandemic up to 9,393. Some 405 people have died from Coronavirus across the York health trusts area since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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