Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
9 April 2020

The lockdown won’t end soon – but the UK government still isn’t levelling with the public

The implicit logic of government policy is that we will be living like this for a long time. 

By Stephen Bush

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the obvious conclusion from the information we have so far: that the lockdown will continue not only over the Easter weekend but for the foreseeable future. His health minister, Vaughan Gething, has told BBC Breakfast that there is “zero prospect” of the lockdown ending, and that people need to carry on for a while longer.

While the majority of the lockdown powers are devolved to the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we know that the virus peak will come four weeks after the rate of transmission falls, and that until that happens, there is no meaningful prospect of the lockdown ending or being eased. We know, too, that we have not yet reached that point.

Yet, here in England, many of the papers talk as if the continuation of the lockdown is up in the air. The Telegraph says that any easing will be delayed until Boris Johnson has recovered, while the Mail warns that lockdown could carry on for “weeks”. 

The implicit logic of government policy as I wrote back on 18 March – is that we will be living like this for a long time. Indeed, that is explicitly the case if you read the scientific advice on the government’s website. 

That’s probably the most noteworthy thing that Gething said  not the announcement of continued lockdown measures by the Welsh government, but that the government in Cardiff thinks it has to be straight with people. That the lockdown is still talked of as a project that may last a few weeks is in part a failure of individual media outlets  but it’s also a by-product of the Westminster government’s unwillingness to level with the public about what exactly the road to exit entails.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them