Telegraph Travel
Telegraph Travel

Why easing the lockdown is a bottom-up effort

Email sent: May 21, 2020 3:36am

Is this your brand on Milled? You can claim it.

ou’re nearing retirement and you’ve managed to build a sizeable nest egg, congratulations are definitely in order/www.telegraph.co.uk/money/fisher-investments-uk/investing-for-retirement-income/?WT.mc_id=tmgspk_plrnlr_2866_AvTCSkN8cBlT&utm_source=tmgspk&utm_medium=plrnlr&utm_content=2866&utm_campaign=tmgspk_plrnlr_2866_AvTCSkN8cBlT&plr=1&mvpf=97d468b966a94975b133637755752536&mvpflabel=Front+page+emailou’re nearing retirement and you’ve managed to build a sizeable nest egg, congratulations are definitely in order/www.telegraph.co.uk/money/fisher-investments-uk/investing-for-retirement-income/?WT.mc_id=tmgspk_plrnlr_2866_AvTCSkN8cBlT&utm_source=tmgspk&utm_medium=plrnlr&utm_content=2866&utm_campaign=tmgspk_plrnlr_2866_AvTCSkN8cBlT&plr=1&mvpf=97d468b966a94975b133637755752536&mvpflabel=Front+page+email

Why easing the lockdown is a bottom-up effort
Ministers wrestle with public opinion

View in browser

Update your preferences

The Telegraph

Thursday May 21 2020

Front Bench

 

Good morning. The infection data continues to bring positive news on the epidemic, but the Government is rightly wary of getting the next easing of the lockdown wrong as it scrambles to get ready.

PM insists contact tracing will be ready by June 1, but ministers appear to retreat on reopening schools

By Daniel Capurro,
Front Bench Editor

The Prime Minister insisted in Parliament yesterday that the UK’s track and trace system would be in place by June 1. That’s likely to solely involve human contact tracers to begin with, with the NHS’s mobile app to be launched later.

With new cases now dropping to very low levels and the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 at its lowest since late March, Britain is fast approaching the point at which it will make sense to swap the national lockdown for a much more nuanced approach.

– No room for error –

However, there is understandable nervousness and caution because, quite simply, ministers cannot afford for the reopening of the economy to go wrong. If the messaging isn’t good enough, the risk is that the public won’t go back to work. If the contact tracing doesn’t work effectively, they risk a second peak in infections and a catastrophic second lockdown.

So it is rather unsurprising that ministers are moving cautiously. On contact tracing, the system is reportedly close to ready, but the Government wants extra time to write guidelines that are as clear as possible to avoid the confusion that followed the first set of easing.

On schools, the Government appears to have retreated. The June 1 target for reopening primary schools is still in place, but it will be up to councils whether schools in their area reopen. Many won’t. Not having primary schools open will continue to drag on the economy as working parents struggle with childcare, but ministers clearly couldn’t afford a politicised fight with the unions.

Camilla Turner, our education editor, explains in detail how the plan has unravelled over the last 10 days.

– From the bottom up –

The Government and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, have tried this week to draw the public’s attention to the economic damage of every extra week in lockdown. But as Camilla Tominey examines here, there is a realisation in Westminster that the success of the “Stay Home” campaign means that any move to get people out of their homes will have to be a “bottom-up” one, with ministers providing encouragement rather than orders.

The problem with such an approach is that, so long as key planks of the economic system, such as schools, are missing, it is difficult for people to return to normal. A gradualist approach could end up being a very slow one. That might be better for keeping the virus in check, but it isn’t ideal for the economy.

The alternative, however, of a “big bang” unlocking could backfire spectacularly both in terms of keeping the public on board and keeping the virus at bay. So a slow, economically painful, creeping back to normal it is likely to be.

 
 

Pick of the day

 

If you read one thing today | Read Tom Harris on how Boris Johnson showed he was not prepared to be the punchbag again at PMQs

 

Explore beyond the headlines
Become a Telegraph subscriber today and access expert insight and analysis – free for 30 days.

 
 

Today's cartoon

Cartoon from today

 

The Refresher | 
The facts behind the week's biggest political story – straight to your inbox every Wednesday, written by Amy Jones.

 
 

Westminster Round-up

You can find all of our Covid-19 coverage on our special coronavirus home page, while the latest news is on our liveblog.

What’s a metre between friends? | One area where balancing effective messaging, the economy and scientific advice is most evident is in the two-metre rule for social distancing. Official World Health Organisation guidelines are that just one metre is necessary, and Spain is the only other major economy to have opted for two metres.

That matters because the square footage taken up by two-metre distancing around a person is almost four times as large as for one metre. That makes it a much larger burden on businesses and workplaces that want to reopen, and some have lobbied for it to be reduced.

One adviser to the Government, Professor Robert Dingwall, told The Telegraph earlier this month that the distance was set at two metres, rather than one or 1.5, because the public couldn’t be trusted to accurately judge the distance.

A review of the rule by the Sage group of scientific advisers to the Government has, however, reportedly advised against changing the recommended distance, arguing that it would “blur the message” and yesterday Downing Street insisted it would remain at two metres and pointed to evidence that the risk of infection is much higher at one metre than at two.

Back to the future | Meanwhile, Parliament’s experiment in virtual participation is over. The Commons is now in recess and the Government has decided that the use of video calls and electronic voting will not continue on its return. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, insisted that Parliament would not be returning to its usual hustle and bustle and that social-distancing rules would remain in place. It’s not clear, though, quite how that will be practical. The queues for voting alone could stretch out of the building, if socially-distanced.

The decision appears to have been driven almost entirely by optics. It’s rather difficult for Boris Johnson to insist that it is now safe for the public to return to work, if MPs are still taking part in PMQs from their book-lined studies. How wise a decision that is may be tested if the new contact tracers find themselves dialling a lot of Westminster numbers.

 

Coronavirus live tracker | 
Search figures for your local area, track the disease's spread and follow the UK's rate of growth.

 
 

Advertisement

Liveintent MPU
Powered By Liveintent Liveintent Adchoices
 

The Front Pages

 

Sponsored

A fresh perspective on investing for retirement income

 

Are you enjoying Front Bench?
Email me at frontbench@telegraph.co.uk

 

From the archives

A classic Matt from this day in 2014

Sign up for our exclusive Matt newsletter and get an unseen sketch each week.

 
 

If you have questions or feedback, please visit our help page. If you have questions about your Telegraph subscription, including delivery issues or technical ones, please visit this page and contact us that way. We also welcome your feedback to frontbench@telegraph.co.uk.

 


See more Telegraph newsletters

 

Money  |  Refresher  |  Cars  |  Brexit Bulletin  | 

 

We have sent you this email because you have either asked us to or because we think it will interest you.

 

To unsubscribe from this newsletter, visit your account here and update your preferences.

 

For any other questions, please visit our help page here.

 

Any offers included in this email come with their own Terms and Conditions, which you can see by clicking on the offer link. We may withdraw offers without notice.

 

Telegraph Media Group Limited or its group companies - 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. Registered in England under No 451593.

Other emails from Telegraph Travel

Telegraph Travel
Jun 2, 2020
Front Page: Quarantine plan rethink
Telegraph Travel
Jun 1, 2020
Front Page: Pupils denied school return
Telegraph Travel
Jun 1, 2020
What Scandinavia can tell us about avoiding a second peak
Telegraph Travel
Jun 1, 2020
Making a judgement call
Telegraph Travel
Jun 1, 2020
Front Page: Summer school looms
Telegraph Travel
May 31, 2020
When it matters, you’ll hear it here first