PM Boris Johnson is adamant on ending the UK’s second lockdown by December 2nd, despite the Government’s argument that it may have to be extended if cases and deaths don’t fall.
Even though the lockdown isn’t as harsh as the first which lasted from March until July, there are still many restrictions in place, some the same as before, such as: Only leaving home for work, exercise and to buy essentials from supermarkets. However, unlike before, schools and universities are still open, and have been encouraged to remain open as many believe it is vital for children and students well being as well as it being important for them to be educated face to face to get the full learning experience. This being said, some universities have already moved onto online learning due to increasing cases of Covid-19 on campus.
Following Boris Johnson’s speech, government guidance was released which said universities should “consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible”. Therefore many universities have combined both online and in person teaching, with the knowledge that the current situation may change meaning education will look slightly different. University and College Union’s general secretary Jo Grady, said public health was “being put at risk because of the government’s insistence that universities must continue with in-person teaching”.
With Coronavirus cases sitting around 19,000 currently in the UK, along with 140 deaths, Boris Johnson hopes that enforcing a national lockdown rather than a circuit breaker lockdown will make people realise the effect the virus is having, and that the move he has made is necessary. Unless people are able to stick to the rules over the next 4 weeks, then Christmas 2020 will look very different this year, and households still won’t be able to come together to celebrate as a family.
In order to help support those who now have to work from home again, the Furlough scheme has been extended and will run throughout lockdown. Workers will be paid 80% of their wages once again, so that they can support their family and save some money for Christmas shopping. Boris Johnson seems to believe that a lockdown until December 2nd, will be long enough to control the virus and bring the R rate below 1 again, with the infection rate halving rather than doubling. The Evening Standard quoted from Boris Johnson: “I do think there is the prospect of a much brighter future ahead if we can make a success of these national measures, open up again in December, give people the chance of some shopping, some economic activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas and then beyond.” This optimistic view isn’t carried by everyone, and some believe Boris acted too slow in announcing plans for the winter.
It is important that if this second lockdown does have to be extended past the 2nd of December, as Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove believes, that those who struggled mentally during the first lockdown feel supported by their friends and family. Former Tory MInister wishes for this lockdown to be “compassionate” and Boris agrees, stating that another £12 billion has been put into supporting mental healthcare. The measures put in place shouldn’t be imposed lightly so that society can resume to normal as soon as possible, with people feeling more financially and mentally stable.