DOMINIC Raab has stated that the government is not expecting to change the current lockdown restrictions this week.
In a discussion of the subject, he expressed concerns that it was ‘too early’ and added, ‘ we have come too far, lost too many loved ones and sacrificed too much to ease up.’
The UK gov believes that lockdown measures will have to remain in place at least until we’ve moved beyond the peak of the virus. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization chief, has predicted that removing lockdown measures too soon might trigger a ‘deadly resurgence’ in COVID-19 cases.
Lifting the lockdown isn’t expected to be straight forward, the government is scheduled to plan exit strategies in the weeks to come, and there have been several suggestions about what these plans might look like for the UK.
1. A gradual lockdown lift
Once the virus has peaked, and deaths have begun to fall, it’s expected that the lockdown will ease up in stages. It’s likely that groups will be given more freedom gradually, according to regional location or age, for example. It’s also thought that schools might reopen before restaurants and pubs. Gradual measures will avoid a sudden surge of busy areas which could trigger another spike in cases. In China, it took around two months for restrictions to be lifted. If our own efforts to tackle the virus are successful, we could see a lifting of restrictions in the early summertime.
2. Lockdown data apps
Apple and Google are developing a new app in partnership with NHSX; it’s hoped that the application will help the UK to lift the current lockdown situation. The app will rely on Bluetooth to alert users if they’ve had contact with an individual who has the virus. It’s believed that the app could relax restrictions, as people will have more solid info about their danger of spreading or contracting COVID-19. Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently addressed the assumed public privacy concerns of the app. Hancok stated that, ‘it would only be used for NHS care and research,’ and that app data would not be kept for longer than needed. Lockdown apps could well help the UK track the virus if used in conjunction with other support methods.
3. Immunity passports
Immunity passports are an option that has been discussed throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The UK Health Secretary suggested that certificates could be given to individuals who ‘have built up immunity to the COVID-19 infection so that they can return to normal life.’ Many people will have the coronavirus, yet because they are asymptomatic, they may never know it. These individuals will have built up some level of immunity, so they can safely return to daily life without posing a risk to others. The current issue is that, due to lack of widespread testing, we don’t know who these immune individuals are.
4.Ramp up the testing
The UK government has received widespread criticism from opposing parties, the public, NHS workers, and the media about COVID-19 testing efforts. So far, we’ve far lagged behind several other countries, leaving many people wondering why the UK is failing to test more people for COVID-19. According to data by Statisca, as of April 12, the UK has tested 350,575 people, falling behind countries such as Italy, Spain, and Russia. Germany is far ahead in terms of testing, having tested 1,317,887 people. The COVID-19 testing stats are improving, yet Britain still has some way to go to reach its targets.
Last month, before Boris Johnson fell ill with COVID-19, he stated that the UK planned to, ‘ massively increase testing,’ adding that, ‘this is how we will defeat it in the end.’
5. What’s slowing down the exit strategy?
A lack of widespread testing makes it more difficult to lift the lockdown. For options like immunity passports and lockdown apps to work the UK needs to ramp up testing. Unfortunately, a recent testing blunder has slowed down our progress here. Britain ordered 17.5 million coronavirus antibody test kits, only to find that the tests did not actually work. Professor John Newton commented that the tests were ‘ not good enough to be worth rolling out’ after the tests failed their evaluations.
What are antibodies tests?
Accurate antibodies tests, as soon as they can be accessed, will likely be a huge part of the UK lockdown exit strategy. These tests work by determining if someone has already had and since recovered from COVID-19. The testing device pricks your finger and tests your blood for coronavirus antibodies. If you are found to have the antibodies, it means you will now have some immunity to coronavirus. At present, the government has been using what we call swab tests, which detect if you have the virus now. If we can also discover who has previously had COVID-19 and recovered, these individuals can safely leave the lowdown. Data like this is also useful to know how many people overall are asymptomatic.
What is the impact on the UK Economy?
The Financial Times has stated that the economy will face a ‘35 percent plunge if the lockdown remains in place for three months’. However, the Official Budget For Responsibility has predicted that the GDP will ‘bounce back quickly.’ During this uncertain time, the UK Government has introduced measures to support businesses, employees, and self-employed individuals. As expected, many people are suffering financially due to the economic repercussions of the coronavirus. As an initial knee-jerk reaction, many companies froze their marketing campaigns. However, as people become accustomed to the new normal, companies are seeking to adapt and improve their business operations, using effective corporate branding, digital marketing, and new online solutions. This way, businesses can engage new customers and B2B clients during this challenging time. Despite the lockdown, there are several ways to grow your business online and target consumers. The advance of technology has allowed many to work from home. Those individuals who cannot work from home require continued protection with the appropriate social distancing methods.