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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.

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