City centres, the virus and work patterns

The Prime Minister is clearly concerned that if we continue with homeworking for the many, with social distancing for hospitality, and bans on live events, the economies of our city centres will be gravely damaged for as long as this lasts. The longer it lasts, the less likely that it will bounce back to the levels of city wealth and income we saw in January.

Even though the national lockdown has been relaxed, the current rules advising people against public transport and telling employers to require homeworking wherever possible means greatly reduced business for bars and restaurants, shops and personal services in city centres. The longer it goes on the more likely the many small businesses that populated these areas will give up, and  the more likely the large chains will look to cancel more of their leases on expensive city centre properties.

The PM has come up with compromise with his scientific and medical advisers, who urge caution and want the effective city centre lock downs to continue through the proxy advice to avoid public transport and busy pavements. He says from August individual companies should decide if they can provide safe working back in the city centre  office, having consulted their staff. To do so might well mean a reduced staff in the office at any one time. It may well mean staggered hours to avoid peak hours on trains ,  buses and tube. It will mean social distancing at work, limits on using lifts, more cleaning and the rest.

It underlines the cruel dilemma government faces. The economic advice is straightforward. Liberalise everything, give incentives to get back to work, and seek to inject a V shaped recovery into an economy gripped by a deep recession . The medical advice is also clear. To be safe, to fend off a second wave, keep up as much social distancing and isolation as possible. Do not encourage large numbers on public transport, and do not allow anything like full complements in offices.

Where would you strike the balance? Would you go for jobs and growth, or for greater security?

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  1. Stred
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Most home workers are better off and healthier than they were when commuting on a crowded dirty train into expensive offices. A weekly visit to the office may be necessary and the employer needs to be assured that the work is being done as well as it would be in the office.
    Video calls enable communication to be carried out face to face more easily than moving around offices. The rental costs of city centres can be avoided or reduced.

    If the central areas of London have to shrivel and Mayor Khan is left with nothing but social housing and expensive mansions, civil servants and politicians , who cares?

    • Javelin
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      London was built on the assumption that commuting was necessary.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        London was built on the assumption that commuting was necessary.

        London was built long before anyone had ever thought of commuting. The need to transport produce from the surrounding areas created the need for transport. Drones on trains going in every day to do their drudgery came much later.

    • matthu
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      There would be a huge knock on to the tourist industry if shops were boarded up, buses and taxis ceased to run, tourist attractions were forced to close down, pubs and bars closed down …

      There would be no cost effective policing.

      There would no longer be any expensive mansions. They would all have broken windows, some would have burnt out interiors. They would be taken over by squatters.

      A derelict city is not a pleasant place.

      • Lony
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        All resulting from political mismanagement and greed.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      No point having an office for one day a week meetings, there is just no point, keep people at home and eventually jobs will be off shored to cheaper workplaces, don’t think employers aren’t thinking this right now, even small employers, in this Country people hate sales jobs, chat boxes on websites for customer services will remove lots of jobs from our Country.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      If your job can be done from home it can also be done from Mumbai.

      Careful what you wish for

      • Al
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        “If your job can be done from home it can also be done from Mumbai.” – Narrow Shoulders

        Except as many companies who believed that discovered, its not necessarily true. Not all skills are available in Mumbai or transferable out there. There’s a difference between a known worker working from home and coming into the office for emergencies or one day a week, and employing an unknown who hasn’t passed a probationary period and leaving them to their own devices.

    • czerwonadupa
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard of an office block in Canary Wharf were they have put down 4 pairs of feet stickers facing the 4 corners of the lifts so only 4 people can use the lift at any one time. Problem? There are thousands working in this building on many floors. Another office wanted only the A category workers in but it was pointed out they all work on the same floor. So while they were working all the rest of the floors in the building would be empty. So it’s back to the drawing board for them.
      Meanwhile it’s business as usual for mayor Khan who is ploughing on regardless in reducing London streets to single file while expanding his “super highways” while ignoring the dramatic economic changing scenario in London.

  2. Mark B
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    Can you please delete this. Cheers.

  3. ColinD.
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    The doom mongers have all the advantages. If there is no second spike, then they will say it because of all the social distancing and working from home that they ordered us to do. If there is a second spike, they will say “we did warn you”. If you have ‘Professor’ before your name, it seems you are free to exaggerate with no penalties if you get it all wrong.
    The government must take a risk. They need to allow football etc to be watched without social distancing. They should allow theatres, restaurants and transport to fill their seats. However, all tickets issued should clearly tell patrons that they cannot take action against the provider if there is an outbreak traceable to the event.
    By the time we wait for everyone to be given a jab, our economy will have been destroyed.

    • Nigl
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Agree. Ok for the ‘young/fit etc’ A problem that needs to be resolved Is the vulnerable whatever that covers. We need to ensure we don’t create a ‘house arrested’ group and think about bringing them into the light as it were.

      Their quality of life is as important as every else.

      • Andy
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        That’s the problem. Colin seems very keen to take risks with other people’s lives. I am quite happy for Colin to risk his life. I’ll choose whether or not to risk my own.

      • Fishknife
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        I don’t agree, Nigl.
        Yesterday, as an old and vunerable person, I was asked if I was afraid of the virus.
        I replied that I wasn’t afraid to cross the street. I didn’t play ‘chicken’ with cars and treat them as a Matador does Bulls, but I was quite happy to jaywalk.
        One looks at a threat and acts accordingly. There is minimal Covid threat to the vast majority, but a crashed economy will most certaily destroy all our futures.
        Fear is a funny thing, an emotion that can’t be maintained. It spikes like a panic attack. Like the virus it needs to be recognised, catalogued and put away.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Yes, believing in fact, truth and reason are advantages over unreason, delusion, and fantasy when it comes to material outcomes.

    • Suzette Burtenshaw
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Always assuming ‘everyone’ will want the jab. Not everyone will.

  4. DaveM
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Given all the mass gatherings a few weeks ago (with the inherent risk to the attendees and their friends/families), should we not – by now – have had the ‘second wave’ the Left is so desperate to see?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      You only have to look at the disaster unfolding in the US to see the tragic consequences of inaction.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        The USA is by no means the worst according to Coronavirus Update Live today.

        (The BBC still refuses to report deaths ‘per million’ and keeps reporting on Brazil for some strange reason.)

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          France deaths per million 462

          Brazil deaths per million 369

          USA deaths per million 429 (Coronavirus Update Live)

          Yet the BBC chooses to focus on the USA and Brazil.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Martin has a thing about America.

    • James1
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      It seems that the scientists are in charge. If you asked scientists to discount the possibility of being hit by a meteorite on the way to the bathroom in the morning they would not be able to do so. Certainly a possibility, though not one that would worry most people. High time we got back to using what used to be called common sense.

      • John Waugh
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Book review in July Engineering and Technology magazine –
        THINK FOR YOURSELF by Harvard lecturer Vikram Mansharamani .
        His book`s subtitle – Restoring common sense in an age of experts and artificial intelligence.

        • Original Chris
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          Sounds just what we all need, JW, and in particularly useful for those running this country. They seem to lack basic common sense, and Boris, in particular, seems to lack leadership qualities and the wisdom needed to be a leader of people.

          What a leader is supposed to do is to listen to ALL the advice from across the spectrum – medical advice, assessments of the economic “hit” of disease control policies, and lastly, but importantly, the effect on society of particular strategies. Re the last point (effect on society), our government might have saved the NHS, but it didn’t save the lives of those who missed scans and cancer treatments, nor did it factor in the effects of extreme and irresponsible fearmongering plus isolation and difficulty of getting supplies on elderly people. Once the leader is in possession of all the facts he is in a position to make a wise judgement that is best for the survival of the country. He apparently wasn’t in possession of the facts about the economic “hit” that the country would suffer with regard to disease control policies as senior civil servants had to admit to the relevant Select Committee that they had never factored in economic costs. The D Mail reported that the Chair of the Committee said she was “gobsmacked” at this grave omission.

          Economic fallout from a pandemic was NOT modelled as part of contingency planning, admit civil service chiefs
          • Senior civil servants gave evidence to MPs on pandemic planning yesterday
          • Revealed economic consequences of pandemic not part of contingency plans
          • The chair of the Commons watchdog said the admission was ‘gobsmacking’

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      We’re importing a second wave whatever people that have been locked up for sixteen weeks do next, if we keep allowing plane loads of unchecked Countries workers into the UK for spells of work we will keep getting waves.

      Meanwhile we are being punished with our community being threatened to lock back down should we import another ‘wave’ nearby. It’s just ridiculous now.

    • jerry
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      @DaveM; No, because whilst those protest gathering did carry risk it was mitigated by them being outside (and many, for other reasons, wore masks!), the current risk is from inside gathering -apparently, which makes it strange that whilst transient shopping will require masks, sitting for hours in a pub or restaurant with others not related to your usual social bubble will not! But then the govt knows we all have to shop, most physically, on the other hand requiring unpopular and/or inconvenient masks within hospitality venues will simply drive custom back to the off-licence section of the supermarkets.

  5. jerry
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Yet the PM warns about, and the govt allocates an extra £3bn to the NHS because, there is a strong likelihood of a second wave of Covid-19 come the autumn – what the UK doesn’t need is someone in govt, against the scientific evidence (and advice apparently), making decisions on purely economic grounds, risking the UK going down a US style path to an uncontrolled R# and infections or another national lock-down.

    Do not think local lock-downs are a magic bullet, when the govt is asking people to return to the office and the daily commute, take the City of London or Docklands, how many actually live and work there, very few, most will commute in from the Home Counties with all the implications that has for infections spreading around the country…

    • jerry
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

      The world has changed, until we either have a drug treatment or vaccine for Covid-19, just as it has many times though out modern history.

      The sort of economic shock caused by CV19 was probably last seen in the early 1980s with greater automation etc, many small businesses closed, many big businesses relocated or downsized. Whilst the shock was great at the time, the economy bounced back, that is what humans are good at, given support by others and govt.

      In some ways we might even end up having to reverse some of the changed made in the 1980s, there is certainly scope for many more smaller offices/factories, or even micro-hubs (working out of home offices and garages), to secure against local lock-downs and the lost of that major office/factory.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        They have their sights set on AI…probably for everything.
        Several big online companies have suddenly rolled out AI customer services. Naturally these are of no use whatsoever …but how many jobs have they done away with?

        • jerry
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          @Everhopeful; I seem to remember us all being told in the very late 1970s that almost every manual factory job would be replaced by a robot (now called AI) by Y2K – 20 years later and we are still waiting…

          • Fred H
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

            I seem to remember being told almost all factory jobs would disappear if we continued to support the regular call ‘EVERYBODY OUT!’.

            And it almost became true.
            (The sick man of Europe got turned around just in time).

          • Everhopeful
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            I’m no expert but I think I read that jobs in manufacturing have dropped some 60% since the 1970s but productivity is up ( outsourcing maybe?).
            Generally speaking the powers that be are in for the long haul so things happen very slowly. But they do happen!

          • jerry
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            @Fred H; “EVERYBODY OUT”

            Indeed, everyone out of the boardroom, down to the nearest golf course, to resume the meeting on the 19th green, after a quick nine holes, but back in time for afternoon tea and biscuits from the tea trolley, so no one notices our absence!

            Funny how Germany has both strong unions and a strong economy, I wonder were the difference/trouble actually lies here in the UK?

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            jerry – The English are a bolshie lot, they don’t like being herded or ordered about which is why they haven’t had a dictator like Hitler.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          Yes, I just love having a chat with a virtual assistant. It can now take 20 minutes to do something that could have been done in 2 minutes on the phone – and you have to talk to someone in the end anyway. These ‘web chat’ apps are a joke. But they all run them. Do they ever think of whether they are efficient. Someone tapping away at a keyboard for 15 minutes when they could have dealt with an enquiry on the phone in a couple minutes – well I am buggered if I can see how that makes sense.

          • Everhopeful
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

            I reckon that they hope people will just give up. Robots say…”I have no experience of your problem” or some such rot.
            Absolute farce.
            But it can be very difficult now to get help with faulty product etc.
            Customer is no longer right.

          • jerry
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            @Everhopeful; Indeed, what is more, in the past it was the customer who was doing the favour, buying the product – now it’s as if the seller does the favour, selling us their products!

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      How much more before the country goes completely bust and there is no NHS ?

      • jerry
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        @Anonymous; Except the NHS was created because the country was basically bankrupt after WW2…

        • Fred H
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          was it expected to make money then? Or possibly to provide treatment at point of need to everyone?
          Do make yourself clearer Jerry!

  6. MPC
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I’d go for jobs and growth now and would have done earlier. The government once had a sensible approach on which my employer just before lockdown went to great lengths to plan around. This involved splitting teams into A and B with alternating weeks in the office and thus social distancing, all in vain thanks to the total lockdown decision which followed shortly afterwards Without hindsight many including myself did feel at the outset that only the elderly and vulnerable should have been locked down. Indeed I recall a young colleague on the eve of lockdown asking me if I was worried personally about the apparent health threat and I said no. 4 months on and the government (seems) to want to return to an ‘A and B’ approach but has wrought untold economic damage through its change of tack on lockdown.

    • jerry
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      @MPC; ” This involved splitting teams into A and B with alternating weeks in the office and thus social distancing”

      I take it your employer was going to deep clean and fumigate your work place every weekend, that your commute to and from works was to be done in social isolation to others outside your team?

      Even if they were doing all the above, whilst your employer might have protected its-self, it was doing nothing to protect the country and thus economy more widely.

      ” Without hindsight many including myself did feel at the outset that only the elderly and vulnerable should have been locked down.”

      I wonder how many of your colleagues are walking about with undiagnosed vulnerabilities, perhaps even your good self. ‘So what if I catch the virus, it’s only bad flu’, you might bleat, until you develop double pneumonia or some other complication that is and you become another hospitalisation – perhaps the one that breaks the camels back so speak.

      Selfish, in a word.

  7. oldtimer
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    All decisions involve risk. It was evident that when the government imposed the lockdown that economic activity was threatened and businesses lacking adequate financial reserves would either fail or have to downsize. In my view the risk to economic activity outweighs the risk from Covid-19. My impression, reinforced by the government slogan/strapline, was the priority was to protect the NHS so that it was not embarrassed by corridors full of C-19 patients struggling for breath. That objective was achieved at colossal cost to the country with lasting consequences for people’s well being (and health if they suffer other medical conditions). It is beyond time to put the recovery of the economy first. It should be up to businesses and people to make their own judgements and to live with the consequences.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink


    • SM
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Oldtimer – I agree.

    • DavidJ
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink


  8. Everhopeful
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    So why didn’t he stick with his initial non life-wrecking herd immunity instincts?
    How was he pushed into this fiasco?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      I suppose the PM does realise that scientists and medical men are not immune from political bias? He understands that the Left (not nice, fluffy, worker-loving Labourites but full-on Marxists and anarchists ) WANT to destroy Europe??

      • matthu
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Scientists tainted with political bias? Not the Lancet, surely?

        • jerry
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          @matthu; Of course there are going to be tainted opinions, but that doesn’t change the science.

          For example, only the tainted themselves argue for or against “Climate Change”, the majority argue for or against the evidence presented as to why the climate is changing – those who can not understand the difference really should keep their own council…

          • Edward2
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            So you think we should ” keep your council” if we dont agree with you.
            Interesting view of the traditional democratic rights of the individual.

          • jerry
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Of course people can disagree, about the science, but not by bringing myths into the argument – that only show their ignorance!

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            …bringing myths into the argument – that only shows their ignorance!
            jerry does that include the Native American myths or the Aboriginal myths? Rather elitist.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        It was a combination of threats from President Macron and bad advice / junk science.

    • jerry
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      @Everhopeful; Because who wants to be know as the PM who perhaps sent 150,000 to an early grave, even 45k would appear bad had there been no lock-down restrictions… The electorate have long memories, after all how many times does the Tory party still dine out on the winter of discontent?!

    • steve
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink


      “How was he pushed into this fiasco?”

      1) He’s weak
      2) He’s a buffoon
      3) He’s a remainer at heart
      4) He’s not who he says he is – his name is DePfeffel.
      5) He’s desperate – he knows the game is up and will naively put faith in corrupt advisers.

      Anyone can push this guy around. IDS would have been the correct choice.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Can’t disagree with any of that, Steve.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      We should have followed Sweden but I understand that the French dwarf said he would block Calais if we didn’t destroy our economy like they were doing.
      The compulsory wearing of masks in shops is a massive home goal.

      • steve
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink


        “The compulsory wearing of masks in shops is a massive home goal.”

        It’s lost the conservatives the next general election. Even a U – turn won’t save them.

      • acorn
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Sweden is not a good EU example to follow. It is currently second only to Luxembourg, with the most new cases in the last fourteen days.

        It also currently has the highest 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths per 100 000 population, with the UK in second place.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          Yet it didn’t lock down.
          It’s figures are nowhere near predictions of chaos the UK experts advised the UK government would happen if we did not lock down.

        • Mark B
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          London and the UK is more densely packed. A major factor in the spreading of viruses.

  9. Nigl
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    What’s the point of greater security if we continue with this pathetic existence and if we are fearing the second wave, what about the third and the fourth etc? It could go on for ‘ever’. If so when would you suggest we have to live with it. Why not now?

    A hysterical ‘witch finder general’ press, supporting over preening scientists who from their mixed messages, frankly have shown that they know next to eff all and a frightened uncoordinated government message machine. Oh and a lied about track and trace system allegedly now ready by the end of the year.

    For me the whole thing lacks the one needed message. Apply common sense. Unless someone with the virus coughs in you face and you use the germ killer on your hands, you won’t get it.

    Did all those people rushing to the beaches cause any spikes, silence tells me it didn’t. So why are we still worried?

    You re killing local sport for no reason. I can go to a pub for a beer but not my club house,, cafe but not a post match snack. My network goes national and I gave not heard of one person getting this thing yet it is being treated like the plague in the 17th century.You are making the hospitality industry look dangerous. I have to give a name address in a pub but not in a supermarket.

    Bolleaux from end to end. When people get fired because of their obvious ineptitude I will believe HMG thinking has moved on.

    • Stred
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      The amusing piece by T Utley in the DM tells how he was looking forward to his first decent pint for ages and entered his favourite pub to be told that he couldn’t ask for the pint but had to do so by downloading an app. As he couldn’t work his smart, the barmaid came to help, got close and tapped it in for him. If she had been a superspreader or he had been, they had just transferred the virus onto plastic for three days in which to infect or put the virus onto the barmaid’s fingers and thereon to the pumps and glasses.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Agree..and so do many others which I imagine is why the media is now pushing rumours of impending Bubonic Plague. I ask you!!
      Anyway..suppose there is an outbreak of Plague…will the NHS still need saving from the Second Wave of Covid? How will the govt. choose what to save from which disease? Already every other disease has taken a back seat!
      It is not NORMAL to nuke one’s infrastructure as a response to even the most virulent plague!

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        We are all immune from Bubonic Plague, having descended from those who survived it.
        I knew bubonic plague would be next on the fear ratchet. It’s endemic in Natal but nobody is advised not to visit on those grounds.
        So Boris has handed the decision of whether to go to work or stay home o the bosses and their employees. Why did he not do that in the first place? Here is the advice … do what is best for you….

        • Al
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          “We are all immune from Bubonic Plague, having descended from those who survived it.” – Lynn

          Incorrect. People descended from survivors of it often have the mutation (CRR delta 32) that makes them resistant and a small percent are immune. However, with the exception of two strains, Bubonic Plague is curable with antibiotics, which is why we don’t see pandemics of it anymore.

          Antibiotic resistance might change that.

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        After watching the tv program Worlds Worst Prisons, on the main jail in Madagascar still having the plague I thought straight away ” What happened if some of the infected managed to get into the UK by hiding in a lorry?”.

        • Mark B
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          They would be treated on the NHS for FREE, and get the usual benefits, plus the right to stay here.

          Why, what was you expecting 😉

    • Andy
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Man who continues to back Brexit even as it collapses before his eyes appeals for ‘common sense’. Ironic.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Recorded deaths since 22nd May to date have been about the same as the five year average for the same weeks, so what on earth is the problem? We must get fully back to normality as soon as we possibly can do. Just using a few sensible precauting for some particular situations. With only the very vulnerable people isolating as far as possible.

    If all the rather overweight people (myself included) just ate a bit less and drank rather less alcohol and lost a stone or so each it would save many times more quality life years than this wretched virus has cost (plus people would feel better and be less vulnerable to dying from the virus too). The economic damage being done will clearly cause many deaths. The balance (for maximum good for the people) is clearly for going back to normal asap. It is also for cutting the size of govenment and taxes hugely and growing the wealth creating sector to repay all this addition borrowing.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Well if you and Matt Ridley, amongst the rest, had not added to the panic at the start it would have helped. Listen to the ‘experts’ whose predictions in March have proved correct is the basic no-brainier that Boris can’t seem to crack.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        I laughed when I read this Lifelogic, really look back at your posts you were the most alarmist here. Ventilators – get ventilators, 70,000-100,000 deaths predictions from you and on and on.

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          +1 and I told him so at the time.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Nonsense had they done (as I suggested at the time) then we would have shut down slightly more than a week earlier (but in a more intelligent, selective & sophisticated way). I would have encourage face coverings right from the start (certainly on public transport and the crowded tubes (that Kahn was telling everyone were safe and cleaned with hospital grade cleaners…… drivel), stopped the mass gatherings at football matches/horse racing or similar.

        Plus we certainly would not have been dumping covid patients (untested) back into care homes to infect many thousands of very vulnerable others.

        Instead of the 70,000 excess deaths (that we have had) we might well have had fewer than 30,000. We shut down too late and we are now opening up too late.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          The furlough at 80% was also obviously rather too generous no wonder many do not want to return to work I would have put it at about 60%.

          Why too did the state sector workers get 100% pay? Many do little useful or positive even when they are working (other than to inconvenience, hassle, fine or tax the other 85% of workers).

        • Stred
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          The PHE figures for flu and respiratory referral show an increase in early March. They should have been looking out for this and started voluntary isolation and distancing with masks on trains ten days earlier.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          I really don’t believe we’ll have 70,000 + deaths from covid in the U.K. from permanent UK residents. People like you and the scientists sent the government on a wild goose chase looking for a ventilator cure which didn’t work and probably made matters worse when there were better treatments and drugs available, Germany seemed to know what to do to stop this virus!

          I warned about Care Homes many times early on, I asked why people on the news were having reporters inside the homes pushing microphones with woolly covers on them pushed into person after persons faces when we know spitall carries the virus.

          The compulsory lockdown was from midnight on Friday 20th March for the majority of activities. They could have been quicker on schools but it wasn’t children that were so badly infected or affected. There will come a time when we can really track the spread, off planes, boats, and how it spread through communities, for example recently I wondered if the people I see walking bare foot after their prayers all following each other out In channels one directly after the other, do they alcohol gel their feet clean?

          People that were locked down for sixteen weeks before the shops re-opened just how was the virus still spreading, who was spreading it, how was it still so virulent in that area.

          I’m tired of it now and I’m sick of so called experts, yes prime minister we can open shops, but a week later tell them all no that’s not safe they have to wear masks next week, saints above.

  11. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    PM is right o be worried – too many people, including government, have been scared witless over the constant barrage of problems associated with CV, from government & media.
    To get more people to live normal lives remove the irrational law on wearing masks – It is an insult to what intelligence we have left.

    Masks may work against bacteria, but a virus is a fraction of their size, so will easily penetrate a mask – making masks nothing but a ‘We’re doing something’ response. Tell people how to keep healthy and fight the virus, including sensible cleaning routines.

    Many people will not go shopping because the mask is an imposition. By all means people should wear whatever they want if they feel threatened, but making a law to impose it was a grave mistake!

    IF our society is to survive then the emphasis has to be on jobs and the economy.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      The public sector should be forced back to work under threat of sacking. They are not working from home as all departments are only offering a skeleton service.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      They’re not masks, they’re muzzles. They are humiliating us.

  12. Cynic
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    The pandemic, which caused more damage socially and economically than medically, is over.
    Time to set the people free. Half measures are useless.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Would you care to peruse the data coming from the US?

      It emphatically proves your claim to be utterly wrong.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        So how many lockdowns do you think we can have before we go completely bust and the NHS with it.

        Up to 1.6 billion jobs to be lost world wide according to some estimates – even the UN’s 195 million jobs lost equates to a lot of hunger and death.

        Is anyone counting deaths caused by global lockdowns and not by CV19 itself ?

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Threatening us with fines and criminal records for going outdoors, while at the same time importing hundreds of people from anywhere in the world coming through Calais. Well done govt !!

      • BOF
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Yes, Ms Patel goes to France to rant while on the same day the record of illegals in boats is broken.

        A daily ritual now of the UK Welcome Committee (aka Border Force) escorting illegal migrants into the UK.

        • glen cullen
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          It must be bad, as its being reported on the BBC website

          • glen cullen
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            that report only lasted 3 hours on BBC website news home page

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      correct – and parliament must lead by example

    • Jonah
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Permalink


    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink


  13. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    The PM is right o be worried – too many people, including government, have been scared witless over the constant barrage of problems associated with CV, from government & media.
    To get more people to live normal lives remove the irrational law on wearing masks – It is an insult to what intelligence we have left.

    Masks may work against bacteria, but a virus is a fraction of their size, so will easily penetrate a mask – making masks nothing but a ‘We’re doing something’ response. Tell people how to keep healthy and fight the virus, including sensible cleaning routines.

    Many people will not go shopping because the mask is an imposition. By all means people should wear whatever they want if they feel threatened, but making a law to impose it was a grave mistake!

    IF our society is to survive then the emphasis has to be on jobs and the economy.

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. When the virus was as it’s worst, we didn’t have to wear them and now it’s subsiding we do. Absolutely crazy. Having to wear a mask to go shopping will make many, myself included, go out less not more. We are being led by donkeys.

      • Jonah
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        I have been shopping and spending for the last two weeks. I will not go shopping once the masks are introduced.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink


        Already stocking up on tins and frozen. Will not go to ANY shop until the muzzle law is repealed.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        The virus is not “subsiding”. It is being actively hindered.

        Its prevalence has been diminished by human actions – by lockdown, by encroachment avoidance, by hand hygiene, and so on.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      If you cough or sneeze or just breath into or through a mask far, far fewer tiny droplets are dispersed into the air.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Hmmmmm – possibly ….But that assumes we are all infected by the virus – If we are coughing and sneezing we should seek treatment.

        Wearing a mask will not stop you catching the virus tho’ – you can still get it through the mask…. additionally you will help to starve yourself of oxygen.

        • bill brown
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          Bryan Harris

          It has been scintifically proven tha wearig a mask limits the spread. Your oxygn remark is just pretty silly

          • Edward2
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Any facts to back that claim up bill?

          • glen cullen
            Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            please show source of proven data link

          • Bryan Harris
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

            Another fake story bill
            ‘Experts’, even, are out of their depth where this is concerned.

            Common sense should tell us inhibiting breathing is not good for us.

            The ‘new Normal’ being imposed on us will never go away if we keep wearing masks

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    The Telegraph suggest that the economic illiterate chancellor Philip Hammond, Ken Clark and Ed Vaisey will all get peerages. Did these three not all vote for the treachury or the Hillary Ben Act? Why on earth were they ever allowed back into the Conservative party. The are all anti-UK, pro EU, socialists to my mind.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      At least there was nothing for the truly appalling Bercow.

    • BOF
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      LL, I predicted at the beginning of the year that there would be no reform of the Lords. It is far too useful a tool for PM’s to appease corrupt cronies.

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      It is time to stop ALL peerages and honours to politicians past and present – sorry John. Does anyone know how to get a petition going?

    • Nigl
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Predictable. What service have you given your country?

  15. Sharon Jagger
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    It would seem that finally the wildly inaccurate recording of cases (double counting) and the death certificates showing Covid even when a person died of something else, or the person who knew someone with Covid (so they must have died of Covid) seems to be coming to light. But business plans for offices when staff return to work appear to be planning for the Black Death in the office….really, really are not going to encourage a return to the office.

    Others who are still furloughed don’t want to return – life is too pleasant…..

    But still the government seem to be wholly over cautious. Supermarket employees, Amazon workers, some school teachers and many others have worked throughout the pandemic and haven’t been dropping like flies with the virus.

    The slowness with which the government are allowing things to return to normal are painful to see….and it’s almost as though someone wants the country to fail….And at this rate of return to normality – it will!

    Lastly, call me naive, but why do we need a ‘new normal’? Those words send a chill through my bones, what’s wrong with the previous normal?

    • Fred H
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      What was wrong? Too much traffic congestion, buses, trains far too busy. Millions of hours wasted on commutes every day. Stress of the work/life balance where work reigned supreme. Superficial business grown on fads like ‘how would you like your take-away coffee?’ Investment in hundreds of new planes, trains carrying who, and to where? Supermarkets gradually killing off independents. Thats was all wrong with the normal.
      Could we wake up to investing and insisting on UK owned essential products and services. It is about time we were set free from crippling laws and agenda-driven politics.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      It’s either normal or not. We want normal and now.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        succinct and correct

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I do not think things will ever return to normal, certainly not for me. The greed, the selfishness and the way people have behaved in general has appalled me.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      There is no double counting really. It seem quite clear to me from the excess death figure that we have circa 70,000 excess deaths over the couple of months up to about May 20th. Nearly all of these must surely have had a Covid factor in them. Clearly not always the only factor in the death but a factor in accelerating the death.

      If what what else caused them?

      • Mark
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Lack of proper treatment? Much of the NHS was not available for regular treatment, and many people were scared to go anywhere near a hospital.

        Most of the virus deaths were of people who were suffering from other life threatening conditions anyway.

      • Zorro
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        What about all the other causes of death which would normally happen during this time, and the cancelling of surgery and cancer related treatment?

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I agree Sharon.

      I know furloughed people who don’t want to return they’ve been scared witless at home alone or with their partner, hardly going out for sixteen weeks. I know some workers who have computers at home especially mothers saving childcare and transport costs who have been working and child caring full time giving only 50% to either task but are better off financially staying at home and don’t want to go back to an office.

      I know business owners worried that if they recall people now and someone gets ill and dies, maybe by coming into contact with a covid carrier outside of work, that they’ll get held to blame even if they follow scientific guidelines. It is too late to put this genie back in the bottle. London should have started going back four weeks ago and business should have been consulted and shared best practice of achieving this then.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Today I went to the supermarket. Standing behind me were a couple decked out with muzzles and gloves standing with their backs to the counter opposite, almost pinned in, scared witless because they saw I was not wearing a muzzle. It was pitiful.

  16. Nigl
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Ps off topic. Maybe instead of bullying a person who was only 15 when she made that fateful decision and incidentally what a nasty lot of people who thought they had the right to put themselves in the mind of such a kid from a different cultural background, the government should be looking at itself as to how they let her be radicalised along with so many others.

    That is the true disgrace as is the uncaring un Christian approach from some of your correspondents. She lost three children over there and you still want to punish her. Wow.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      I suppose you support all national security risks then?

      • Nigl
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        Thank you. You have made my point.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          Lol. I wasn’t quite sure…..

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink


    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Was she over the age of criminal responsibility?

      • Everhopeful
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Well..remember..age 15 Greta is/was the wisest of all wise.
        It’s just what suits!

  17. Javelin
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I drove past Walton On Thames train station at 6:30pm on Friday. Normally 200+ people get off each train from Waterloo. Yesterday 7 people got off the train. 2 were a father and child. 3 were teenagers who had been shopping. The last two were men in jeans and a shirt. There were 25 cars in all of the three car parks at midday, not the usual 800+.

    Then we find out the Government have been manipulating the mortality figures, by overinflating the cause of death being covid. Malignant scientists have scared the population. People will not want to risk death by working in London. Working from home will continue until the new year by which time the whole concept of commuting to a city centre will be forgotten and thought of as archaic. Rental agreements will be unsigned and shops bankrupted.

    The whole culture has become one of victims rather than resilience. Boris had an opportunity to kill the victim culture off in favour of being resilient. He blew it. As I said before the lockdown the country has to protect the vulnerable and let the healthy live. I am now seeing many comments in all the online papers saying exactly that. This was all predicted in my posts on your site back in February and March.

    Boris has blown it and I fear the Conservative Party now face an existential crisis.

    • mickc
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Well, let’s hope the current version of the Conservative party, basically Libdem, does face extinction. It can then be replaced with a true Conservative party with a leader who actually believes in its values, rather than their own career.

      Boris has proven to have no leadership qualities and is blown about by the MSM.

      How about some “the lady’s not for turning” in the face of a critical letter from a plethora of economists ie “experts”? No chance whatsoever!

      We can look forward to Ken Clarke type tax rises and stagnation.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        So far Boris has been ‘not for turning’ but is well down a narrowing cul-de-sac and doesn’t seem to realise he may not be able to return.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Indeed, people are realising that having poured enormous amounts of money and hard work into their home, they might as well make full use of it. No doubt somebody is thinking up a “reverse business rate” whereby working at home is taxed as a benefit in kind and offices are zero rated, just to save Pret a Manger and public transport …

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Prets’ are closing some 30 stores. That will mean, probably, one less in the 1 square mile where I work. Ergo – No loss.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Correct – and it is not just fearful of death – what about the several weeks of hell often endured, which can cause life changing damage for the future?

      • Fred H
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        For the economy to begin again the message needs to be ‘Go to work, Save your Future’.
        Us more vulnerable ones are retired or in Care Homes. The 20 to 60 need to resume.

    • steve
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink


      “Boris has blown it and I fear the Conservative Party now face an existential crisis.”

      Yep, the game is up.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Well unless they get real and cut the state back sharpish. The idiotic HS2, taxpayer dining out, greencrap insulation grants, renewable and electric car subsidies are totally moronic.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Are we seeing the work/lifestyle reset, perhaps. You mention the commuter, well I left the city so I could stop commuting; wasting 3 to 4 hours per day on an uncomfortable train. No thank you. Working from home seems a good thing, or perhaps we’ll see development of the ‘shared office space’ concept in local town centers.
      Shopping; well if people don’t like the ride/drive to the ubiquitous ‘shopping center, then buy online, why not. I prefer to use the farmers market and street traders for groceries than wandering the aisles and waiting inline at the supermarket.
      The town center will, I hope, become a pedestrian preserve, allowing a new social society to develop for entertainment, small specialist boutiques and of course pubs and restaurants. I used to live above a shop on a high-street, I could see the potential.
      Change can be good.

    • Luther
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The Tories aren’t the enemy, Labour is the real danger but it is important to note that both main parties are no longer what they once where. In fact, both parties have become almost one and the same with a similar agenda and a symbiotic understanding. They may at first appear to be working independently but look carefully and there’s an element of orchestration

      The Tories suffer from one fundamental weakness, they’ve betrayed their own fundamental beliefs and given way to a set of ideas that has the capacity to cause existential harm to this nation and its most cherished freedoms. The Tories know this but choose to remain silent on this most appalling deceit and betrayal

      There’s no doubt in my mind that the events of the past two months and the rise of a culture determined to silence the voice of those who pay the State’s wages is orchestrated from the very top and from within.

      I believe the Tories can be dragged back from its disastrous decision to embrace racially driven authoritarian Socialism and the State legislated attack on free-speech and open debate on all issues but Labour must be exposed across all fronts. Are the Tories prepared to deviate away from Labour’s Marxist agenda and its embrace of intimidation violence designed to impose silence?

      At some point, the main electorate outside of London will wake and realise they have been deliberately and deceitfully enchained by a form of politics whose aim is the destruction of a culture and a way of life and replaced by a culture and laws that are designed to purge us of all identity and sense of place

      Confusion and the constant reworking of what is acceptable and unacceptable is deliberate. Head spinning confusion. What can we say without offending or what is legal. At this point we decide it is easier and less risky to remain silent. BINGO. The Marxists have succeeded in destroying the civil world.

      The CP and the LP are dragging the UK in a direction from which it can never escape and Boris Johnson is merely continuing the Tory plan agreed to some years ago. Blair and his brand of politics in which an omnipotent and omnipresent State captures all has been embraced. It will destroy this nation but then that’s its aim

    • BOF
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      My sentiments exactly, Javelin.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Aren’t you being too hard on the government by accusing it of ‘manipulating’ the figures? A safer accusation is that SEVEN MONTHS after the crisis first bubbled to the surface Matt Hancock is still in the position of having to manage a crisis response without good information. The sorting out of the statistics mess needs to be a high priority.

  18. Will Jones
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Sunetra Gupta’s team at Oxford have shown we likely already have herd immunity in this country as a result of T-cell cross-immunity combined with antibodies, backing up the earlier work of Gabriela Gomes. There is no need still to be hiding from this virus. But even if this is wrong, we need to get back to work and to normal. This virus just is not deadly enough to warrant such a costly and debilitating response.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      They reckon 1.6 billion jobs will be lost worldwide because the west locked itself down.

      That will equate to a lot of hunger and a lot of death.

    • steve
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink


      “This virus just is not deadly enough to warrant such a costly and debilitating response”

      But it is useful if you want to wreck the economy then tell the people brexit has to be reversed because we’re skint.

      • BOF
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Yes, that may just be the view of left wing EUrophile scientists.

    • ukretired123
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Very interesting T-cells remember previous viruses, colds and flu strains giving smart defence against new ones. Thanks very interesting and the observation that due to the MSM many have become immune to good news sadly.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      the conclusion is almost certainly wrong. However, much is promised by research into how the types of T-cells could be utilised in the future.

  19. Chris Dark
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Now that many desk-job people have had a taste of extended work from home, they will be very reluctant to give it up. The WFH genie is out of the bottle and few will be keen to stuff it back. A famous engineer once said “the more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drains”…we are all trying to live our lives by some magical and complex set of instructions, social distancing, masks, you go here, walk there, don’t go there, stand on this label, and so on…it just aint going to last. Huge change is imminent. The virus itself is merely a part of life’s daily risks. Time to demote it to the ranks of flu and norovirus.

    • BOF
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Quite, we will have to learn to live with it.

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink


    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Pleased to see my local Tesco has removed all barriers and floor signs.
      They are back to normal thank goodness.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Mine’s ditched the arrows, trimmed back on check-out traffic control but kept the perspex up. In sum, a sensible set of changes that has reduced queueing outside.

  20. Dave Andrews
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Resumption of business has been stifled by the law about face masks. If going somewhere involves a risk so great that one has to wear a face mask, perhaps one should not go there at all.
    I expect there are many businesses that won’t be able to resume because of the loss the owners have suffered. Even if they have managed to survive and are able to open up again, with the threat of further lockdown they are probably thinking they don’t want to risk further investment.

    • mickc
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, the face mask law is a “second spike” in the heart for retail.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      I suspect the Lefties (similarly the teaching unions) are behind this mask issue – to totally **** up this government and make the country ungovernable.

      I don’t know anyone who has died of CV19. I already know of three who have died of lockdown. One avoidable heart attack and two suicides.*

      * If doctors can attribute deaths to CV19 without testing then I can attribute suicides to lockdown during this crisis.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      My tiny cafe in a small market town is open and losing £150 per day. It can’t go on. Better to lose nothing and shut. Then the Govt picks up the unemployment bill. So there is no ‘balance’ between being solvent and being safe. We are never safe and cannot be ‘almost solvent’.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        “Better to lose nothing and shut” except that even if shut you still lose rent, rates, interest, insurance, depreciation …… plus the goodwill you have build up.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        every small business that goes under is a direct result of this government policy and mis-management of the lockdown

        • Mark B
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink


  21. Richard1
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Much of the rest of Europe has opened up with no adverse effect or second wave. Sweden has no mandatory lockdown at all – although people did and do distance, limit numbers etc voluntarily. They have had no worse results from Covid than the U.K. it now appears 1) that the U.K., especially England, has greatly overstated Covid deaths versus other countries and 2) given the current levels of infection the chances to get infected are approx 1 in 4,000 from any particular person. Absurdly mr Hancock seems to be surprised at 1) above whereas to the rest of us it was obvious.

    Set against that the damage – including to health – from lockdown or lockdown-lite is enormous. Of course the scientific advisers who were telling us a few months ago that hundreds of thousands or even millions may die will continue to focus on Covid. We need to get back to normal. We can’t go on cowering at home and under no circs should there be another lockdown, 2nd wave or not.

  22. Julian Fountain
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    One of the reasons people are reluctant to return to offices in central London is the dreadful experience that awaits them on TFL. It is not just the masks or other people, but the continual hectoring public announcements on the platforms and on trains. There are far, far too many of them. They inform nobody of anything they haven’t heard before. They are simply loud repetitive bullying and make travelling far more unpleasant than it needs to be. If the PM is serious about getting people willing to back to work in London by public transport he must ban these.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      . . . continual hectoring public announcements on the platforms and on trains.

      Because of all these PSA’s I got on the wrong train thinking that it was my one. Stop laughing at the back ! All I want to hear at a station is when the next train arrives and where too.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        most of us need a translator. The sound systems are typically dreadful.

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    First, whichever solution is arrived at it needs to be communicated as the solution, not a delayed jumble of conflicting advice.

    Second, accept this situation as ongoing in one form or another. There appears to be little demand for city centre facilities including sandwich bars. Well, farriers and gin palaces also had their day in the city centre. Accept the situation for what it is and move on.

    Third, central government can liberalise regulations to facilitate business-a local restaurant here won’t extend themselves outside (on a quiet back road in a village) because the local council won’t say they can, therefore their insurance and licensing is in jeopardy.

    What you can’t do is buck the market.

  24. JoolsB
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The trouble is the Government and the media have done such a good job with all their scaremongering. Johnson now needs to show a bit of metal and he could start by ordering all MPS back to the commons – forget their summer break – they’ve been away long enough and he could follow that by ordering the bloated public sector back to their offices. That would be a good start.

    All the above are in no hurry of course because they are the only ones who unlike those in the wealth creating private sector have not seen a dip in their incomes or faced the threat of being furloughed or losing their jobs. Time to have a massive cull, MPs and Lords included, and get them out working in the real world.

  25. Horatio
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Disingenuous bilge. The Socialist British State including the two main parties has played its hand and that hand equals authoritarianism. CV19 was perfect delivery mechanism

    The UK is now set on a path towards a bleak place in which the backbone of this nation will silenced and packaged into oblivion

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink


  26. DICK R
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Thousands of financial transactions carried out while ‘working from home’ , what could possibly go wrong ?

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      probably safer than trusting Banks!

  27. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Making everything secondary to dealing with this virus was a mistake.
    People have been denied cancer treatment and on average someone dies from cancer every four minutes in this country. Few in government seem to care.
    Other people have been too afraid to seek medical help. Children have had their education severely disrupted. Mental health issues are increasing. The economy has been trashed. Statistics relating to CV-19 have been manipulated and have become meaningless. Our liberty and freedom are being eroded daily by a so-called Libertarian Prime Minister – don’t make me laugh.
    We need a return to normality much sooner than ‘possibly’ by Christmas. If not, the consequences for this country are incalculable. The ‘cure’ is already far worse than the disease.

    • NBH
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Well put Brian Tomkinson. Entirely agree.

  28. Paul McGreevy
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The virus will stop when 60% of the community have been infected and enough immunity is built up. Not before. You can allow this to happen the slow way at great cost or the quick way for free but the end result is the same. The government must know this but they’d rather put on a show of how much they care than save the economy. They have had 4 months to bolster the health service and they should now relax all the restrictions immediately to get this thing over in weeks otherwise it will carry on for another year. I REPEAT, THE END RESULT WILL BE THE SAME EITHER WAY THEY DO IT. Restrictions delay infections and deaths they do not prevent them. There may never be a vaccine.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      correct – Sweden went the other way with no getter loss

    • Jonah
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      I would prefer to get the virus in summer when my immune system has been boosted with sunshine. Why push the virus into Autumn and Winter.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Correct ! It was better for us to just get it over with. Something I and others here have been arguing from the start. History shows this.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I think cities have had it. The unemployment and loss of earnings are going to be unprecedented.

    It is estimated that 1.6 billion jobs will be lost worldwide.

    Are we sure that CV19 would have killed more people than the lockdowns of advanced economies ?

    I don’t know anyone who has died of CV19

    I’m not even sure I know anyone who has had CV19

    I do know one person who has died needlessly because of delayed surgery and I have known of several suicides during lockdown.

    Are we absolutely sure that the cure is not a lot worse than the illness ?

    Is anyone doing a count of people dying through missed hospital appointments and the suicide rates ?

    Or is it only CV19 deaths and black lives that matter !

  30. Iain Moore
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe we are still at a situation where we can’t trust the Covid data being produced. Right from the off I and others said we needed to know where infections were taking place so that the health authorities could respond, and we as individuals could take action, but 4 months down the line we find PHE believes no one can recover from Covid, and local health authorities are still not getting real time data. What is going on? For all the good it would do we might as well bang our heads against the wall. Do they actually want to get on top of Covid or are their departmental egos more important? The hallmark of the British state seems to be secrecy and incompetence.

  31. Andy
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    It is not a cruel irony. It is called governing. Governing is choosing.

    The choices are, indeed, tough – but plenty of governments have correctly made those tough calls.

    Johnson has got pretty much all of them wrong.

    Who, frankly, is surprised that a man who has been incompetent at every job he has ever done is incompetent as prime minister?

    This seems to be a shock to people who voted for him in December.

    Some of us are not surprised.

    • steve
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink


      “It is called governing. Governing is choosing.”

      Wrong. Governing is doing as told by electors.

      “Johnson has got pretty much all of them wrong.”


      “Who, frankly, is surprised that a man who has been incompetent at every job he has ever done is incompetent as prime minister?”

      Excellently put.

      “This seems to be a shock to people who voted for him in December.”

      Well he either gets flung out No 10 and replaced, or the whole lot gets voted out at the next general election….which is probably what we’ll do to the conservatives anyway.

      “Some of us are not surprised.”

      How true. Personally I gave the guy every chance, but he’s crossed a red line with me over the face masks.

      Moreover I won’t be voting for a party led by someone who can’t think for himself but relies on the advice of others to ‘govern’, and is too frightened to go by his real name.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Yet recent polls show the voters still give Boris a majority similar to the last election.
        Despite the replacement of Corbyn with the elegant Starmer.
        Maybe you and young Andy are wrong?

        • Fred H
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

          I’ve lost any faith I might have had in polls!

  32. BetterTimesAhead
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Whatever balance is struck, it will be a compromise.

    To make it work the Government must take the Country with them.
    The communication is not good enough at present.

    With masks, a clear message should have been sent.

    – Although CV numbers are down, we must take every necessary action to avoid a second wave.
    – The Government believes that wearing masks in shops will help the fight against CV.
    – The UK is in alignment with many other Countries, and all of us are implementing such measures.

    Regarding Patrick Vallance and his “lockdown should have been 1 week earlier”.
    Call out that nonsense now.

    It is politically naive, beyond belief.

    Imagine if Boris had stood up on 16 March 2020 and said “Dear 67,000,000 citizens of the UK. We have now had 1400 cases of CV and 65 deaths”. “We are now putting the entire Nation into lockdown”.

    Nonsense on stilts!

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Exhibit A: Wuhan.
      Exhibit B: Northern Italy.
      Exhibit C: France.
      Exhibit D: Spain.
      There was ample evidence to see what our trajectory would be, so an earlier lockdown was justified – and justifiable. But before the lockdown the government should, you know, have made an effort to keep the virus out of the country.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Would you have locked down a couple of weeks earlier when there was under 100 deaths out of 70 million people. in the UK?
        More people died of flu in the same period.

        Hindsight genius.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          The UK HAD the benefit of hindsight back then by looking at these other countries.

          The Government ignored it. The world of science was aghast.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Hold on a minute, on the 16th March 2020 Boris did stand up and announce a lockdown? My parents locked-down on the 16th March, both aged over 70 as instructed.

      Newspaper headlines: ‘Life put on hold’ as UK begins coronavirus ‘lockdown’
      By BBC News Staff 17 March 2020

      “Life put on hold,” the Telegraph declares. For the Star, it’s “Home Alone”.

      The Times has “Britain in lockdown” – accompanied by a picture of a deserted concourse at Waterloo Station in London during rush hour.

      “Britain shuts up shop” is the Mail’s headline. The paper describes the restrictions as the biggest shutdown of normal life since World War Two.

      The Sun says Boris Johnson has put up the closed sign on Britain – and Mother’s Day this weekend is, in effect, cancelled. But the Express tries to rally its readers with the headline: “We can do it together.”

      The Telegraph’s commentator, Harry de Quetteville, writes that all our lives changed in that technical phrase used by the prime minister at his news conference – no more “non-essential contact with others”.

      Visits to the pub; an five-a-side after the office; work at the office itself; popping round to granny and grandpa. Somehow, he says, it’s the cancellation of the mundane that cuts through.

      Henry Deedes writes in the Mail that life, as we know it, is about to get very different.”

  33. M H
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The medical advice is far from clear. For a start the statistics we are provided with are completely inaccurate and one could even call them a pack of lies. Critical thinkers will have discovered a long list of highly qualified and experienced independent scientists who profoundly disagree with those scientists with vested interests and a questionable agenda who are advising government and whose advice is being slavishly followed. These independent scientists are steadfastly ignored and even censored and silenced. Sadly it would appear there is no one in parliament listening to them either. It would be impressive if Boris called the independent scientists who have been brave enough to speak out into Downing Street. Perhaps after listening to them he could apologise for his appalling mistakes and put an immediate end to this catastrophe caused by lockdown.

  34. Newmania
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The government, like,Donald Trump, has always emphasised the economy over safety. Were safety alone the issue we would be in total lock down until there was a vaccine , so the policy its experts have so publicly disowned is not a compromise.
    The supposed Winter surge of which we are warned seeks to implicate the weather for the consequences of the governments policies. The weather is irrelevant ..were it not Brazil would not be where it is today.
    For what cause are we so recklessly being flung into the unknown ?
    Brexit negotiations are failing as we predicted and they fears a great anger at Brexit, poverty and Covid19 and poverty will become a single wave of hatred against which their
    childish stories will be powerless.
    There are causes worth dying for , our grandparents certainly thought so . The continued comfort of fat backsides on green leather , is not one of them

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Any economic failure is completely attributable to the overreaction that is lockdown, and I criticise the whole West.

      Estimates up to 1.5 billion jobs lost globally according to some estimates.

      That equates to a lot of death and hunger.

      Even if we were wrong on Brexit – we now have the perfect get-out clause.

  35. Bill B.
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    ‘The Prime Minister is clearly concerned’, you say.

    He needs to be more than ‘concerned’ about what his policies are doing to the country.

    The funny thing is that he is the one politician to my mind who could just about get away with telling the public – in his usual inimitable way – something along the lines of: “Look, we all do things in life where we overreact. It was in good faith, I didn’t have the information then that I have now. It’s time to put this behind us.” Howls of rage from the Left, but a lot better prospects for the Conservative Party and its future in government. I’m wondering who doesn’t want that to happen.

    • Suzette Burtenshaw
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Good point.

    • John E
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Boris has no idea how to govern. His boss tells him what to do based on input from his focus groups.
      That’s fine for campaigning, but as Mrs T. said, when you are in an election you campaign, when you are in office you govern. Neither Boris nor his boss have the first idea how to do that.

  36. steve
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink


    “The Prime Minister is clearly concerned that if we continue with homeworking for the many, with social distancing for hospitality, and bans on live events, the economies of our city centres will be gravely damaged”

    ….he should have thought about that when he decided to allow aviation borders to remain open during a global pandemic.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Good point. I see that some 50,000 are coming in through our airports each day. While I think that we are right to get the economy moving again, I have yet to see any evidence that the obvious precaution of IR temperature monitoring is in place at ports of entry. This government is showing, once again, that it doesn’t care one jot about our borders.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Exactly Steve.

      We are importing cases from unchecked Countries every day some of them going straight into hospital, infecting airport staff baggage handlers and taxi drivers and we are now encouraging people to go on holiday into Europe who gave us the virus in the first place.

      When businesses start bouncing off the walls in November, the Christmas usual boost doesn’t materialise, hotels start asking for bailouts to continue, in fact all closed businesses, Councils (the most risk averse), transport, universities all come back with their bowls asking for more, extended furlough etc etc. Will people start to say Boris you shouldn’t have locked down so long.

      City Centres and the likes of Canary Wharf how long to do you expect them to keep afloat?

      We’re close to home should we go the cafe and go through the palava – no might as well go home.

      Well its ok to stay locked down but you are changing habits and there are serious consequences of that you won’t reverse. In fact I’m beginning to suspect the green agenda Leaders want this to crash.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      The British state’s repulsion at controlling our borders has come at a very heavy price, and even when confronted with the cost of their failure, they still won’t do what is necessary.

  37. Tim the Coder
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but the damage is already caused.
    The Government’s over-reaction to the WuFlu has triggered a rapid change to city use that was happening anyway.
    Many office & clerical jobs can be done from home, without expensive city-centre office rent, and without hours of expensive commuting into dirty unpleasant places etc ed

    The office space will become free, dropping rents, the sandwich bars which served the commuting masses will close, and the cities will become Detroits: abandoned areas of lawless violence and gangs.
    People will move out to suburbs further away and enjoy quieter roads, less violence and online shopping.
    Cannot put the genie back in the bottle, or omelette back into the egg.

    The City Centre as a business model is dead. The deed is done.

  38. Adam
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Needs bend iron. Products and services with strongest consumer demand thrive and attract purchasers to wherever they are. Some businesses manage because they just happen to be conveniently close to where enough users are and accept.

    Businesses lacking enough attraction to survive where they are, need to go to where their customers will be.

    Consumers dictate what business exists. The notion of shipping customers toward shops they happened to visit earlier, solely to support less attractive business is backward.

    Workers should work wherever they are most productive in performing the services consumers demand of their employers. It has taken a C19 jolt for businesses to realise the high productivity of homeworking. Reducing that to return to ‘normal’ may help a shop, but only in delaying the economic effects of the shock.

  39. BOF
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The Prime Minister could make a statement that it has all been a terrible mistake.

    Now that we know that the country has been fed false figures, with more likely to come in the form of many death certificates recording Covid instead of the real cause of death, we should all get back to our lives.

    The elderly need protection as do those with chronic health conditions. For the rest, take sensible precautions. It is called taking personal responsibility.

    End the whole lockdown fiasco now and get the country back to work before it is too late.

    Stop listening to experts and disband PHE.

    • M Hopkins
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Entirely agree BOF

    • Fred H
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Boris should announce he has been mislead and left confused about guidance – so will disband PHE, SAGE and Regional Structured NHS.

      We would probably all agree – – he needs the public support.

    • Jonah
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Agree totally!!!

  40. Pat
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Given that only one in four thousand now have the virus, the rate of hospitalization is less than one tenth of the peak and declining, the death rate is a fraction of the peak, that the recovery rate is vastly better than ever, I would suggest the problem is over bar the shouting. The more so as the death rate is doubly exaggerated- people with heart disease say who die with Covid are treated statistically as if the heart disease was harmless, and as the minister appears to have discovered anyone ever diagnosed with Covid who subsequently dies is recorded as dying from Covid, even if they were run over by a bus.The
    One might add that all cause mortality is at an all time low, hardly a sign of a raging pandemic
    Time to tell the public that it’s over, precautions are no longer necessary.
    And time to question the good faith of PHE and SAGE.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      Pat on the back for Pat. The simplicity of the facts is anathema to a struggling and foolish ruling coterie. Wake up Tap on the shoulder to the dozy PM who is showing the degree of consistent ability to choose the wrong option at every opportunity .

    • Jonah
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Boris planning to be back to normal for Xmas????? Schools back in September let’s all get back to work and get on with it.

  41. John E
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    My son-in-law lives in Caversham and works in West London. Working from home he finds he is more efficient than before and is saving a fortune on rail fares as well as gaining back the stressful commuting time. His commute was made worse in January by the introduction of the inferior new Crossrail trains on the stopping service to Paddington. These trains were designed to cram in the maximum number of standing passengers and replaced much more comfortable older trains.
    So you will understand he is in no rush whatsoever to return to commuting by train. He has no desire for Boris to make his life worse again. He would be putting himself at risk for no personal benefit, in fact the opposite.

  42. davews
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Each day I find myself in tears at ever more restrictions just as you thought it was all over and normality was coming. There will be no second wave, masks do absolutely nothing and just increase the sense of fear. This country has no future if we continue these restrictions on our freedom another day. And turn off the BBC with their constant doom mongering.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I noticed the BBC had seamlessly moved from ‘we’re all going to die from covid’ to , they’re favourite, ‘we’re all going to die from climate change’. They didn’t allow us a momentary respite from their doom mongering.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      davews, precisely stated, only I would advocate the defunding of the BBC. It constitutes a major immutable impediment to progress in a way that would reflect the voted-for views of the populace.
      Gloves off!

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Stop watching the Ministry of Truth then ! Trust me, you’ll feel better for it.

  43. formula57
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Where to “go for jobs and growth” means attempting to restore a pre-Covid world is to set a distorting and likely unachievable goal. Very many city centre service/hospitality businesses may well not have a future now and attempting to grant one is futile.

    Opting for extensive relaxations to revive the economy contemporaneously with allowing gaping loopholes (air bridges!) in counter-Covid measures does not seem well-balanced.

  44. Ex-Tory
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I see the name of this site is “Speaking for England”, a nation which, until a few months ago, was justly proud of its freedom and liberty fought for over the centuries.

    We still haven’t emerged from the grip of what Lord Sumption has described as being without doubt the greatest interference with personal liberty in our history.

    Anyone would be hard pushed to argue that giving government the power to issue “stay at home” orders or giving local authorities the power to prevent people leaving defined areas to control a virus currently responsible for 6% of the total deaths in this country is not tyranny.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Sir John may feel entitled to say he speaks for England, but successive Conservative governments certainly did not, and continue.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      It is not the powers themselves that worry me, it is the fact that those who wealed them do not feel that they shouldn’t.

  45. BOF
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Off topic. Has any other developed country completely shut down its health services, public and private (other than emergencies) to deal only with coronavirus, despite having a large margin of spare capacity nearly all of the time?

    • John E
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Having eventually found a dentist that was able to treat me I can confirm that no other country in the world shut down their dental services. As in so many areas of the response we were uniquely stupid.

      Why on earth are all the private hospitals still commandeered by the government?

      • Jim Whitehead
        Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        A unique stupidity is at work.
        The disproportion of meddlesome futility to the magnitude of the threat will live in perpetuity to the disgrace and discomfiture of a pathetically diminished political party.
        Like Doctor Johnson, some levels of banal foolishness require to dismissed at the valuation of the listener, not the vain mendacious pretentions of the government. “I refute it thus!”

  46. Sea Warrior
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Well, that’s the second of my three ‘locals’ now open. All the right precautions in place and with weekend trade already returned to normal levels. The business will, however, be unable to get the meetings & functions side of the business back up and running quickly. And it will also take a hit from an adjacent business showing no signs of breaking out of its ‘Working from Home’ policy. My feeling is that the bar will muddle through somehow.
    Elsewhere, the marina still has 40% of its Hospitality venues closed and a proportion of those won’t re-open. The others might be trying to find a way of walking away from their existing liabilities.
    Yesterday, on another site, I suggested that one live arts venue in London, about to make 2/3 of its staff redundant, should, by now, have re-opened, at reduced capacity and/or staging open air events. My comment was comprehensively VOTED DOWN. But I’ll stick with the suggestion. The Arts need to make use of open air spaces rather than just sitting back and drawing subsidies.
    My second post-lockdown railway journey yesterday. Train was at 5% capacity. All passengers were wearing masks except for, predictably, the two young yobs with ‘attitude’. Never a policeman around to dispense a fine when you need one. Government should push the message that our railways are safe to use.

  47. The other Christine
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    It is plain as a pikestaff to anyone who has two brain cells to rub together that unless and until these ridiculous restrictions are lifted, there is no chance whatsoever of the economy making any sort of recovery. Sadly it would appear that there are not even two brain cells available in no. 10.

    And let’s not get started on the destruction of our wonderful society here in England, the warp and weft of which depends on people meeting, sharing experiences, fun and laughter. No choirs, no bridge clubs, no sewing circles.. the list goes on and on. It’s truly heartbreaking.

  48. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I’d go for the economy. If we carry on as we are there won’t be enough money around to look after all the sick people. We can’t carry on as we are indefinitely. We have to get back to business as usual.

  49. Caterpillar
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The PM needs to apologise for putting the country into lock down. He needs to explain the Govt’s response was as though the country was under existential threat. In that situation there was no need to perform a cost-benefit analysis of lockdown vs no-lockdown, but rather to ensure that resources that were available were directed in the ‘war’ against the virus (hence let’s take over private sector hospitals, stop other NHS treatments, build ventilators/CPAP machines, provide Nightingale hospitals etc.). The country should be proud of what it achieved under the presumed existential threat. Now, however, with more understanding it is clear that the virus did not put the U.K. under existential threat but continuing to respond as though it did may cause that result. The P.M. needs to explain that a cost-benefit consideration would have shown that the effect of lockdown on the economy would cause more net QALY years lost than the virus under no lock down. In such a mea culpa statement he needs to immediately start a wide-scope and independent public enquiry to the Govt’s response; this should not be delayed.

    He needs to state there will be no more knee jerk reactions, that GDP per capita matters for QALYs and that this matters for the people already in the borders of the country. (The PM ought to remove Hancock, Sunak and Patel; however much they have tried to serve they are associated with the failures.)

    The Govt needs to immediately issue reliable data on CV19 deaths, particularly identifying how many of the cases occurred in care homes and hospital acquired infection (broken down by patient, staff, visitor) as opposed to wider community transmission. It needs to state how care homes will now be protected and how nosocomial infection will be reduced (Nightingales?).

    The Govt needs to issue accurate estimates of (infected) fatality rates by age and no-known vs known underlying condition. These also need to be issued with an effect column showing the if-infected vs not-infected chance of dying in the next year. These numbers will probably be pessimistic upper bounds as they will be based on estimates of number of people infected (from the population anti-body sampling studies) and mortalities during the initial period of learning.

    The Govt also needs to publish information on improvement in fatality rates due to earlier intervention of rest, oxygen, steroidal, antiviral and serum antibody treatments. Alongside this the Govt needs a strategy for earlier indicators to hazard of infection e.g. are pulse oximeters a good tool.

    The Govt needs to face the reality that innovation often comes from cross-fertilisation in city spaces. If the economy is to drive forward these spaces need to work and they are not compatible for a house-ownership suburban view of the world. Cities need to be vertical, probably rental, mixed use and easily connected. The Govt needs to be committed to cities.

    The Govt needs to unlock completely and be honest that some deaths will continue. The Govt should consider an offsetting strategy, though this does admit some failure in the initial response. For example, directing resources to earlier hip and knee operations will add more QALYs to people than battling to the last minute to keep people alive in their 80s and 90s.

    (And my usual – UBI would reduce uncertainty and allow the economy to adjust better than the Chancellor’s meddling. How to wash hands needs to be part of the school curriculum. Maths and English GCSE lessons need to be unconditionally, freely available to all adults.)

  50. Andrew H
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    You can’t have it both ways – advising people against public transport and the continued war against cars – and then wonder why people are going into the city centres.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      ….and go and support your local shoppong centre but we’re still going to charge and fine the hell out of you for parking

  51. Sakara Gold
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    We do need new ways of working here and at all costs, we must avoid the dreadfull situation that is developing in America. Record levels of infection, hospitals overwhelmed and fatalities rising rapidly – it is hard to avoid the conclusion that their lockdown as ended too soon. A recent projection in the Washington Post predicts 250,000 Chinese plague virus related deaths by the November election.

    Over here, I am not reassured by our PM announcing that the huge number of fatalities in our care homes was caused by brave and dedicated care home staff failing to follow “procedures”. Neither am I reassured that he can’t be bothered to read Patrick Vallence’s recent report, which does identify many of the mistakes – failing to close our borders in time, starting the lockdown too late, insufficient stocks of PPE etc etc

    Three years ago an NHS exercise was undertaken that identified many of the failings – care homes, PPE, infected hospitals, panic buying etc etc. The money spent on this exercise was clearly wasted as apparently nobody in government read the report. Can you see a pattern developing here?

    As the government wastes more time and bickers over who to blame, it looks like we will be experiencing a bad winter in a few months, in spite of Johnson throwing another £3 billion at the NHS.

    The government of Barbados – suffering huge economic problems as their tourist industry has collaped – is offering incentives for Brits to move over for the duration and work from home there. Barbados has excellent communications, fast broadband, lovely beaches, good food, wonderful people and a very good health system. They currently have a very low infection rate. Time for a sundowner anyone?

  52. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    People only ever worked in London because incentives were offered. That included myself for three years from 1969, way back. It had it’s prestige too but London is not remotely the English city it was then. It never will be ever again and this government encourages its destruction. Now with virus and the prospect of continuing restrictions for covid and no doubt for any other infection that comes along London will be deserted by its original population. Left to crime and destruction.

    • Iago
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      A very suitable place for the House of Commons and the rest of them.

  53. Norman
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I agree it’s been a cruel dilemma for Government. But we must now be concerned about the ‘second wave’ – the wave of disrupted lives and financial despair as all this comes home to roost. It’s time to protect commerce, education, social life – as well as targeting vulnerable health groups – just as we would in a ‘flu epidemic.
    The ‘tyranny of experts’ thrives in today’s ‘digitized’ risk averse culture – in my view more destructive than the virus. Many are already immune – more need to be as time goes on. Better this than too much reliance on a vaccine. Also, better uptake of simple therapeutic remedies, of which there are a number. Some have been around for years, which when used early, will prevent the lungs from clogging-up – why the resistance? No wonder many do not trust the media-driven hysteria of recent months, and the shadowy political opportunism they suspect is at work. Much more to it all than meets the eye!

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Whats the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee for if they don’t have the power to stop MSM from reporting fake news

    Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    ‘Greater security’. Most of us with our heads screwed on the correct way know exactly what this means, less freedom and more State oppression

    Come on John, stop giving way to the Marxists. You’re beginning to embarrass yourself and it’s tragic to see you and your Tory colleagues throwing away your firmly held beliefs and this nation’s identity as a beacon for liberty, freedom of speech and individualism

    The majority deserve far better than what you’re now offering. Stop hiding and raise the Anti-Marxist flag before this virus tears our country apart

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      +1, and heartfelt.

    • Original Chris
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely agree, Dominic.

    Posted July 18, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink


    Do you agree with Charles Moore? Is this acceptable? Is it? Is this legal? Why happens if they refuse to be exposed to this disgusting abuse, cancel their pensions?

    Charles Moore has a good piece about wokeness in the Telegraph.

    It includes this chilling passage:

    “I was recently informed that a concept called “reverse mentoring” has entered the civil service. Senior staff of 30 years’ experience are each assigned to a young employee in, say, IT, who observes them at work and reports on whether they exhibit “unconscious bias”, “micro-aggressions”, and other sins which cry to Heaven for vengeance.”

    This is what the Tories and Labour have introduced into our world. LibLabCon have betrayed completely all that we are

    Have the Tories NO DIGNITY?

    Silence is complicity and agreement.

    The UK is a dying beast

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink


      I agree. When is our Government going to stand up to this sort of thing. Its frightening. We shall have no history left at this rate. We are told what to do, what to say, and now, what to think.

      I shall not be renewing my Conservative Party membership this year, for this very reason. I have been a member for many years, but I have had enough of the weakness of this Government. They are silent, when our history and heritage is slowly being eroded.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink


      Like child spies in 1984, or (allegedly) party spies in Chinese firms.

      That is indeed chilling.

    • BOF
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      ‘Reverse Mentoring’!
      That is chilling indeed and something every Communist country would take pride in.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink


    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      I knew someone who worked in the civil service years ago. They were made to attend “diverse” celebrations and partake in “shorts days”( ie humiliation.. wearing shorts).
      There were few if any gagging laws then and those people should have said “NO” very firmly… but they were too busy being tolerant and reasonable and all the rest of the cr*p!
      That is how we have come to be in this polpotian world of nightmare.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        . . . partake in “shorts days”( ie humiliation.. wearing shorts).

        It seems to me that what is happening is the slow humiliation and dehumanization of the populace via the use of muzzles.

    • Iago
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Dominic, you may be in the wrong shop. Matters financial, economic, fiscal – yes, matters fatal – no.

    • Original Chris
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      +1 Dominic.
      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

      Any true Conservatives in the “Conservative” Party, wake up! You are sleepwalking, but the people of this country are not. They can see what you are apparently blind to.

  56. John McDonald
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    The” the cruel dilemma government faces” is because it it did not act decisively back in February and has continued in the same style ever since. The fear of damage to the economy delayed swift action to ban international passenger travel and to support the refund of booked Holiday Costs. The government now seeks to put the responsibility on what to do next on the individual /Companies and small business.
    The question now is one of balancing the virus body count against death of society/and the impact of not having a job and resultant ill health that can bring.
    We appear to have the highest death rate by far from the virus compared to other
    European countries. Why is this ?
    Is the NHS not that good compared to other countries. Should we spend more on it and cut out over management. Are we in general more unfit than other Europeans ?
    I see the Government is not going to publish stats now. A clear sign things are getting worse in terms of deaths.
    So “Where would you strike the balance? Would you go for jobs and growth, or for greater security”
    Sorry but we have to do both there is no compromise with a virus. It will cost in lives and money. There is no, either or, in this situation. Lock down where necessary and free up when clear. A bit like the Blitz really. Spend more on the NHS to help save the lives of infected persons, But more importantly to start to treat the other killer health issues that have been neglected in order to fight the virus.

  57. Martin
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    There are plenty of folk saving a fortune on season tickets who will be happy to continue working from home.

    Regarding casual visits to city centres folk are not going to do more than they have to if the city centre car park charges £whatever per hour.

    The advantage of the train etc. is that subject to ticket validity an extra hour in the city centre for a coffee or browsing (and maybe buying) costs nothing extra.

    Yes new health rules are awkward. Would the Marxist scaremongers go back to the days of dirty water and no sewers?

  58. David Williams
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Closing everything down was a terrible mistake, but what’s done is done. We are where we are.

    It is good to see a roadmap to normality. The PM will have an uphill struggle against our health and safety culture. Please help him as much as you can.

    The lockdown has accelerated the shift to home working and on-line services. Urban centres will never be quite the same again.

    The government must cut taxes and regulations. The digital services industry is highly mobile and will move to the most cost efficient and business friendly jurisdictions.

  59. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The point is the government may lift restrictions , but the public will do what they feel is right for them… survival rules.. The 2 options here are not mutually exclusive.
    We will survive , but the city and high streets were already losing their place . They were overcrowded , dirty , they had lost the buzz which attracted people in the 60’s and 70’s. The answer has already started . There are many retail parks .. as little cities each able to produce more and more.

  60. John E
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I just read that the Nightingale hospitals are to stay open until March 2021.

    You do know there was never enough nurses to staff them don’t you? What on earth is the point.
    If those in charge are too scared to admit their errors they must be removed from office.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink


      Meanwhile they were pushing infected patients (untested) out of hospitals into care homes full of very vulnerable elderly people. The Nightingale Hospital were clearly an expensive PR stunt and essentially a large contrick. Money and effort that could have done far more good had it been spent on sensible activity.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Given the extreme new forecasts (wild guesses circa 120,000) for winter second wave, stand by for the announcement of a dozen more new Nightingale developments. Might I suggest Wembley Stadium for London. Other suggestions on a postcard to SAGE, c/o 10 Downing St. LONDON.

  61. Pete
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    So gravely concerned that he institutes the masks in shops rule. He really must be a genius to have realised that what people really want when walking around hot unpleasant shops is to have a hot unpleasant gag over their face. I think the people that can muster a few brain cells and read the evidence will be even more pleased that there is absolutely no scientific basis for that rule. If only someone had thought of this before when we needed a retail bonanza. Well done Boris, your time as a clown on Have I Got News For You wasn’t wasted.

  62. Caterpillar
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    With UK office staff working from home, London and Birmingham city office space is empty, shops are closing etc.

    This could be the right moment to put together a package to attract in successful Hong Kong businesses to revitalise the cities that the Govt has tanked.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes and to cut the tax rates to ones similar to Hong Kong too please.

      UK top rates CGT 28%, stamp duty 15%, IHT 40% over just 325K, NI about 23% (both combined), income tax 45%, pension tax 55%, insurance tax 12%, VAT 20%.

      Hong Kong has little more that corporation tax and income tax only at up to about 17% and that only after you earn 200 $HK.

  63. ian
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    As usual, the gov are following the hope and growth plan which it has been enforcing since the eighties overvalue policies and investors are the same, going for growth companies instead of them going for value companies with long term plans instead they go for growth companies and instant gratification, case in point Tesla up 600 per cent from 2019 while sales are going south.
    The govs, central banks and treasuries have got into the habit of not thinking about their actions and policies and are incapable of change, they pursue malinvestments and waste so they can achieve instant gratification while the only plan is to have the magic money tree on standby just in case. The Brexit is a mess with them signing deals with the EU before they have even left and will now cost a lot time and money now to put right. Do you think the gov would have shut down the economy without the magic money tree, of cos not, with magic money tree the PM and ministers think they are Gods and can get away with anything, as for offices workers going back to work in London, it not really going to do anything with 50% of them going back and turning up and bringing sandwiches with them so they do not have to leave the office till time to go home, the only time they will go out is Friday night for the under the fifties and last train back home, I cannot see how businesses can afford to stay open just for Friday nights and Saturday lunches and nights, not even the Lords and MPs are going into London to frequent their five-star clubs and restaurants and entertainment haunts but the biggest problem is no tourists coming in on 747 to fill the hotels and buy the expensive goods to take home with them and fill out a form to claim back the 20% VAT for goods taken home with them along with big discounts on offer which get bigger at christmas time and new year, all gone. I think that outweighs a few people going to the offices to work.

    How do I see things going forward, well it going to take a long time to reach the bottom of this depression with govs shaking the life out of the magic money trees, up first for asset markets and then a long decline to catch up to the real world, if I said to you, worth 4 trillion you would laugh at me along with Google and Tesla 2 trillion along with the bad sale, it all seems confusing doesn’t it while you will be watching the solid value companies go out of business because they have been starved of money from investor and bankers.
    Most of you will not be alive when this depression ends, think 20 years of govs and robber barons trying to save their asset prices and then fail, as I tell you, they have no brains only a magic money tree.

  64. RichardP
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,
    I would be grateful for some clarification of the new face mask rule. Like all edicts coming from Downing Street these days, it is a little light on detail.
    It is clear that the Government wants people to wear face masks in shops but the threat of a £100 penalty for failing to comply is made on what basis?
    Our local newspaper tried to clarify the situation by saying that “it is yet to be seen who will ignore the guidance, especially as it is not technically a criminal offence”. Unfortunately they didn’t say what type of “offence” it actually was.

  65. Andy
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The Government is being overly cautious. The crowded beaches, demonstrations in recent months etc where there was no social distancing did not lead to any massive increase in cases or fatalities which if there was any real major risk of infection we would surely have seen. The disastrous economic consequences of lockdown, and the Government’s hesitant approach to its removal are rapidly becoming clear, and the Government should now give absolute priority to dealing with this.

    If it was the Government’s intention, as apparently it is, to encourage people to go back to the office, shopping etc, then bringing in legislation to require the wearing of face masks at this stage is counterproductive. Shopping, in part at least, is a pleasure activity for many people and wearing masks makes it far less pleasurable and removes part of the attraction for going. Having to wear a mask now when it was not considered necessary at the height of the infection seems to be very badly thought out.

    I am fortunate in that it is possible to do some of the work I do from home. However, while video links and phone calls are useful they can’t replicate the informal conversations that happen in the office. A lot of the best ideas happen in those informal conversations and its absence is damaging so I would want to be back spending time in the office in London at the earliest opportunity.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      you have ‘best ideas’? REALLY?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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