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Good morning. It’s the day after Boris Johnson tightened coronavirus restrictions for England – with Scotland, Wales and Northern generally going further – and an intense debate is underway over whether the PM over-reacted, or under-reacted. Businesses are alarmed about the implications. But some scientists think Johnson ducked the need for tougher measures and one of them, Prof John Edmunds, was on the Today programme making this point within the last hour. Edmunds is head of the faculty of epidemiology and population health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his team, along with Imperial College, developed modelling that helped to persuade the government to impose a lockdown in March. He also sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Emergencies, and so he is one of the leading experts in this field.
Edmunds told the Today programme that it was “welcome that we’ve done something” and that working from home was a good idea. But he said that asking pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm was “fairly trivial” and something that would “have a very small impact on the epidemic”. He went on:
Overall, I don’t think the measures have gone anywhere near far enough. In fact, I don’t even think the measures in Scotland have gone far enough.
Edmunds said he feared that, for the second time, the government would end up clamping down too late. He explained:
I suspect we will see very stringent measures coming in place throughout the UK at some point, but it will be too late again.
We will have let the epidemic double and double and double again until we do take those measures.
And then we’ll have the worst of both worlds, because then to slow the epidemic and bring it back down again, all the way down to somewhere close to where it is now or where it was in the summer will mean putting the brakes on the epidemic for a very long time, very hard – which is what we had to do in March because we didn’t react quick enough in March, and so I think that we haven’t learned from our mistake back then and we’re unfortunately about to repeat it.
This is just one view, and scientists aren’t always right. But the Times (paywall) is reporting this morning that Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser and the chief medical officer for England, thinks it is inevitable that England will have to ban people meeting in other people’s homes, as Scotland and Northern Ireland have done.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS is due to publish a report covering the lockdown.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is expected to hold its coronavirus briefing.
12.30pm: Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, holds a press conference.
12.30pm: A minister responds to an urgent question in the Commons about evictions.
Around 1.30pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, makes a Commons statement about border arrangements at the end of the Brexit transition.
1.30pm: Downing Street is due to hold its lobby briefing.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK coronavirus live: English rules don’t go ‘anywhere near far enough’, says leading government Covid adviser | Politics