An exit strategy

We need to lift the ban on people working. A 3 week firebreak against the virus has bought the NHS time to expand capacity and to handle the resulting case load. As a result there are many more Intensive care beds and oxygen systems available.

Government in the next phase should still have as its main aim limiting the number of deaths. That is why it should still strongly advise all those at risk groups and the elderly to stay at home out of contact with possible virus spreaders. It should redouble efforts to ensure all at risk get home deliveries of all they need, and plenty of social contact through the phone and social media.

The rest of us should be free to go back to workplaces whilst continuing with strong hygiene measures and whilst keeping a sensible distance from others where possible. We need to rescue the small businesses and save the self employed by letting them earn money again.

We should not go for the return of just those people who pass a test to say they have had the virus. The right to work should not depend on some government test which might not even be accurate. We do not want to create a perverse incentive to put yourself in harms way to try to catch the virus so you can then win your freedom. It is difficult to see how you could enforce a ban on people who had not had the virus from travelling and working.

The economic cost of continuing with these lock downs will be massive. Unemployment will shoot up to record levels, many  businesses will go bankrupt or go through major financial reconstructions, state spending and debt will leap up, and there will be a major reduction in the standard of living and disposable incomes of many people  previously or still working in  the private sector. Lock down hits the lower paid in the private sector hardest.


  1. Peter
    April 6, 2020

    One issue is the conflicting advice of many of the so-called experts.

    This is compounded by a government need to ram home a single, unified message. They will all now – more than ever – want to be singing from the same hymn sheet. So even if a policy errs on the side of caution (from a medical projection anyway) they may prefer to stick to it.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      April 6, 2020

      The PM has been hospitalised by this virus, and all right-thinking people wish him, and every other sufferer, a speedy and full recovery.

      So the overriding issue, Peter, is one of the facts.

      The facts, as to numbers of hospital admissions and their ability to cope.

      No one is claiming that the economic consequences are not very severe indeed.

      However, the dilemma could not be much worse. To lift the measures for economic expediency could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths among those, many of whom would not otherwise have died for a long time. It is a cruel, callous caricature, to say that few of them had long to live anyway, and like all such things, a falsehood.

      The effects of this will be profound and world-changing. Humanity will ask itself for what we have governments at all.

      Hitherto, underlying that question has been the assumption that the greatest threat facing a society comes from other nations, or religions, or ideologies – from people, that is, and that defence must be maintained against them.

      That is suddenly revealed as an illusion.

      1. glen cullen
        April 6, 2020

        What is an illusion is quoting covid19 hospital admissions as though they are the number of actual covid19 patients that remain in hospital

        I still can’t find the daily number of patients in hospital in a bed overnight? with covid19

        1. Hope
          April 6, 2020

          JR, we heard for four years your govt, and you, tell us that the Govt will take back control of our borders.

          Could you tell us why the govt has chosen not to secure our borders from people landing in this country from virus hotspot countries knowing they will infect and kill our citizens? it also fits in with the current mantra protect our NHS.

          The Govt campaign add with Dr Witty in it says stay at home do not visit friends and family. Explain why Buckland, against the medical advice of Deputy Chief Medical Harries, is letting out 4,000 prisoners that could contaminate them or they contaminate their families? Why not quarantine in jail where they belong? Remember November the Tory Govt manifesto to get tough on crime.

        2. a-tracy
          April 6, 2020

          Glen check out ICNARC report on covid19 in critical care 4 April 2020.

          1. glen cullen
            April 7, 2020

            Thanks for the info, good source of data but doesn’t cover the whole UK nor NHS, only ICUs

            Wish we had a comprehensive single source info website

      2. Stephen Glasse
        April 6, 2020

        But its not a caricature, its a fact. Most people by far who die of covid 19 will be the elderly and very sick. This is tragic and the government should do what they can to help those people. But destroying the economy with the resulting loss of thousands of businesses that hardworking people have spent years building, driving people into unemployment, homelessness and despair not to mention the highly questionable decision to lockdown millions of people including those in tower blocks for days on end is far worse. And all based on the totally unsubstantiated notion that this virus is a once in a century outbreak…

      3. Sam
        April 6, 2020

        Here is my query though (and I am working from no background in medicine) – the expectation of hundreds of thousands of deaths is presumably based on the most vulnerable catching it and passing away (as they are by large margin the most likely to die). But if we are isolating the elderly and vulnerable, surely this figure would change significantly. Simply put, if the fatality rate for the under 40’s (say) is 0.03%, then a general release of population under this age is unlikely to see a significant spike in deaths SO LONG as the elderly and vulnerable remain protected and isolated?

      4. Fred H
        April 6, 2020

        nonsense …over history so many countries have suffered from attacks by others. Of course a defence should be maintained meaning militarily. Now that this virus and the damage Aids/HIV, MERS can do, we should rethink abandoning border controls and the ease with which transfer can occur. Shengen enables disaster.

        1. Martin in Cardiff
          April 6, 2020

          Yes, true Fred, but that wasn’t my point.

          The likelihood of ruin through war is less in this age than through infection, as we are quickly learning.

          However, governments and populations have hitherto acted as if the reverse were true.

          Maybe we should divide the country up into one kilometre squares, and have checkpoints around them all?

          Why stop at ending the Schengen agreement, or free movement between the states of the US?

          1. Fred H
            April 6, 2020

            Martin – – given war might become a thermonuclear wasteland for much of several countries, with vast areas unable to support human life forever – do really thinking a large cull of mostly the elderly (incl me!) is worse?

          2. Martin in Cardiff
            April 7, 2020

            You take a valid angle on one interpretation of my post, Fred.

            I was focusing on the likelihood of a given disaster, rather than its absolute severity, however.

            If, say, a five-mile wide asteroid hit the Earth at sixty miles per second, then both would be minor by comparison.

            So I think that we should address protecting ourselves against the most likely.

            And I think that further such epidemics are a lot more likely than nuclear war.

      5. zorro
        April 6, 2020

        You are yet again alluding to the Imperial College computer simulation which is being heavily criticised by a number of his peers and he will still not reveal the information used to form the simulation programme.

        You need to stop referring to the 250,000 or 500,000 figures as he has now finally stopped referring to them as well. The figures for the overall deaths will be less than the excess deaths from influenza/flu in 2017/18 during which my father died. Yet again, you refuse to examine the potentially fatal consequences for a large number of people in the short/medium term life expectancy as a result of the economic turmoil which is ahead.

        Will you be advocating the abolition of private cars in the future to save 4,000 or 5,000 lives a year in the UK? if not, you are just as cruel and heartless as you claim are others in this scenario.


        1. zorro
          April 6, 2020

          even Ferguson is admitting that 2/3rds of the people who will allegedly die with/from COVID 19 would have died within a year anyway….


      6. Anonymous
        April 6, 2020

        And when the NHS collapses to a fraction of its size because there’s no money to pay for it ?

        How many die then ?

        How many are already dying other things because it is deemed that you must not die of Covid 19 ? Including the spike in terminal cancers several years hence.

        Deaths owing to the mental illness caused by the coming economic depression…

        Deaths owing to the inevitable rise in violent crime…

        Deaths of people owing to poverty *especially* old people…

        Will these things be counted ?

      7. Richard
        April 6, 2020

        Sweden’s cases should still be exponentially rising for scenario (a) below to be correct.
        To yield the observed number of Swedish COVID19 deaths:
        a) A high IFR means few people must currently be infected; and
        b) A low IFR means many must have already been infected (ie the Oxford University epidemiological model).

        Many epidemiologists believe (b) fits the data better.

    2. Hope
      April 6, 2020

      There is no cure for corona virus and the govt has failed to keep us safe by keeping borders open from hotspot countries- bear in mind take back control of our borders mantra four years. If the govt cannot/will not control our borders it needs to get out of office. Hancock must go he cost lives. Importing people to infect our citizens knowing some will die is despicable. This could have been minimised by closing borders, the govt chose not to.

      If business could continue during power cuts in the seventies by doing a three day week, why can’t business alter working practice to allow work to Continue safely by shift work or something similar?

      Why has road repair/construction stopped? Same for major infrastructure projects. All is required is a change in working practice. Shops the same.

      Prisons should be a quarantine Eutopia, no visits, no care packages, calls etc.

      Let us not forget the last wasteful spend and tax budget was delivered knowing this was taking place. It was also known your govt claimed repeatedly austerity was over and planned for more debt and a continuous deficit of 2-3 percent! Failing ten years of economic promises.

      1. sam
        April 7, 2020

        There is a cure
        For severe cases, IV vit C or chloroquine but the NHS does not use them
        The main thing is to ahve a strong immune system which is designed to combat all viruses and bacteria
        Take vit C and vit D3 in the winter as vit D gets low due to lack of sunshine.
        This virus is no more dangerous than seasonal flu
        We have been folled by the ‘experts’ and media hysteria
        Someone needs to investigate whats going on. Bill Gates is a clue

    3. Data Please
      April 6, 2020

      The Govt have descended into Mantra rather than a data driven, intelligence based strategy.

      I think we’re seeing the return of the Tunnel Vision eloquently demonstrated by the May administration.

      I can only assume now its a particularly virulent disease amongst the Tory Party.

      Apparently repeatedly shouting “Save Lives, Save the NHS” and clapping hands, if not banging gongs, will not only absolve you of all Sins but keep the Virus at bay, so once again Virtue Signalling has come to the rescue.

      Big Secret: The Virus doesn’t like loud noises.

      BTW: What happened to the Jazz Hands campaign ?

      Got something really serious now to worry about ?

      1. Richard
        April 6, 2020

        I agree – and here are some excellent questions that Government & Imperial College need to answer:

        1. forthurst
          April 6, 2020

          What government needs to answer is why an expert group of relevant scientists, virologists and epidemiologists, was not set up in the first place to advise them so that professionals who could understand each other’s reasoning without necessarily agreeing could come together to formulate a consistent approach to the issues at hand. Neither politicians nor senior civil servants have the intellectual background to weigh one school of thought against another so they shouldn’t try because most likely they will be wrong.

    4. Leslie Singleton
      April 6, 2020

      Dear Peter–Can it be true what Daniel Hannan said yesterday, not just that PHE has 200 “Executives” each earning over £200,000, but their brainless priorities and antipathy to the private sector. What chance do we have?

  2. oldwulf
    April 6, 2020

    Hopefully, the Government has bought enough time for a biotech or a drug company to come to the rescue.

  3. Ian Wragg
    April 6, 2020

    Sweden is doing no worse and maintaining some semblance of order.
    Matt Hancock doesn’t help by threatening us with tougher measures. We don’t do martial rule so there will be mass disobedience.
    Get business back to work pronto.

    1. Ed M
      April 6, 2020

      I agree, I think we need to wait a week or two after the peak is clearly over – a lot of people would just be too scared to go back before then (and passing it onto vulnerable family members) and so we would lose the momentum / psychogical advantage to get people back to work en masse, and quickly. This would give gov time to finally fine-tune strategy and for NHS to be better prepared for the long months ahead until we find vaccine / effective treatment – 18 months away. But balancing act – if we wait too long, the economy nose-dives. I would also imagine big companies thinking along these lines as well.

    2. miami.mode
      April 6, 2020

      Perhaps, Ian you would like to go and drive a London bus, where reportedly 5 drivers have lost their lives. It can’t be too difficult these days with the lack of other traffic.

      1. Fred H
        April 6, 2020

        miami – – not where my son lives – amazed at how much traffic still goes passed his house at all hours.

        1. Fred H
          April 6, 2020

          oops – past

      2. Lynn Atkinson
        April 6, 2020

        We need to dispense with volume transport and back the car!

    3. Hope
      April 6, 2020

      When the Tory govt. treats convicted prisoners better than law abiding citizens there is no reason for people to meet its civic duty to help govt. Trust is gone and any social contract broken.

      4,000 prisoners released to be with family against the health advice of Harries yesterday, healthy family members not allowed to visit other healthy family, and against all norms of a civil society where people should be punished for breaking the law abiding social contract. Citizens have been fined/punished for going out and about.

      Buckland should resign for failing to keep prisoners safe and failing to keep the public safe from them. Weak on crime, weak on the causes of crime and weak on punishment for crime.

    4. Martin in Cardiff
      April 6, 2020

      Ian, the Sun – not the Guardian nor the Independent – reports:

      “…The relaxed measures have raised alarm in the country’s medical community.

      A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors has now called on the government to get tough and tighten restrictions.

      “We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we’ve let the virus loose,” said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus expert at the Karolinska Institute.

      “They are leading us to catastrophe.”…”

      1. a-tracy
        April 6, 2020

        Martin, these doctors, scientists and professors signing the petition did they present evidence that the people that entered the hospital system in the last week weren’t already on lockdown and not going out in the previous two/three weeks?

        We’re told a high percentage of those dying had underlying conditions – were they already in the hospital system what %? What % were in care homes? Or looked after in their home by a visiting care assistant? What % came in from abroad in the last month?

      2. Ian Wragg
        April 6, 2020

        Herd mentality of the medical profession.
        Regardless of what you say the trajectory of illness and death is following the average of other European nations except Germany which is using VAG to collate numbers like the emissions tests on their vehicles.
        They are actually putting the underlying condition on the death certificate rather than assuming everyone is dying of CV

      3. NickC
        April 6, 2020

        Martin, Actually, testing, more testing, tracking, social distancing, and use of protective gear, is a much better overall policy than your preference for the authoritarian lockdown policy that you gush about.

        At least it would keep the economic wheels turning, which is vital for the nation, even though you persistently sneer about that. Which is odd coming from a Remain who had meltdowns at the possibility of us trading a percent or two less with the EU and a bit more with the rest of the world.

        1. Narrow Shoulders
          April 6, 2020

          Concur – but we are not in a position to test yet so the lockdown probably needs to continue until end of April.

          That must be an exit strategy – reduce infections and then follow the South Korean route of test and trace.

          We will still have the problem of mass transit causing spread though.

      4. Data Please
        April 6, 2020

        Is that the following article, which talks about Sweden’s reponse to the Virus:

        6 Apr 2020, 9:10
        Updated: 6 Apr 2020, 13:32

        Correct me if I’m wrong, I interpreted your comment as pertaining to the UK response when you quoted:

        “in the country’s medical community”

      5. Stephen Glasse
        April 6, 2020

        That’s an opinion which may or may not be correct. Lockdown though is immoral full stop.

      6. Mark
        April 6, 2020

        Sweden presently has 47 deaths and 712 cases per million population. That compares with lockdown Spain on 279 and 2,888 respectively. The Professor seems to be running ahead of herself at the moment.

      7. L Jones
        April 6, 2020

        Martin – perhaps you would address Mr Wragg’s point: ”Sweden is doing no worse…”

      8. zorro
        April 6, 2020

        Not a shred of evidence to support their claims – just pressure of numbers

        We will see – and if they don’t, will you be prepared to apologise or consider that you could have been mistaken in any way? Thought not….


      9. steve
        April 6, 2020


        “– we’ve let the virus loose,”

        Well that was government’s intention all along, if it wasn’t they’d have slammed the borders firmly shut in the first place, meaning that cases already here would have been at a manageable level.

        They told us it was to flatten ‘the curve’. They told us it was to build a herd immunity. In fact they’ve told us lots of things – most of it total BS and unquantified data like that stupid numberless curve they keep showing on TV.

        My gut feeling is somebody’s tried to use this crisis to advantage, and it’s close to getting out of control.

        I’d like to know why Germany had the test kits, reagents, and PPE it needed.

        No doubt when / if ever this crisis is over there will be serious questions…and rightly so.

        1. Martin in Cardiff
          April 6, 2020

          Sorry, I should clarify, the piece in the Sun was about Sweden.

          My point is that Ian’s claim that all is going well there is decidedly shaky.

    5. Man of Kent
      April 6, 2020

      Sweden’s schools restaurants shops ,work places and commerce remain open .
      It is open to individuals to take their own action .
      Yet their upward curve of fatalities is the same as ours .
      So there seems to be little sense in our policy of lockdown and killing the private sector . If we cannot contain the disease , and it runs its own course we are much better off restoring our economy now .

      Zimbabwe is worth watching – no money to do anything and any that there is is grabbed by a few hundred in the kleptocracy.
      No clean water , soap unaffordable , food prices out of reach of most ,even mealie meal .All the makings of a disaster but it will be interesting to see if one actually occurs.

  4. Anonymous
    April 6, 2020

    The NHS employees I do know have said that work has never been quieter.

    We did not shut down a single cake factory, much less the whole economy when the NHS declared the obesity epidemic the #1 killer with deaths dwarfing those of Covid 19.

    I had my half hourly dose of soviet NHS worship on BBC radio 2 this morning. I had to turn it off. It’s starting to sound quite creepy.

    Soon people will envy those with a regular pay cheque and work and will especially resent those who tell them to relax and stay at home but who don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage.

    The NHS was never under funded – it was just overwhelmed with an avoidable condition it actively encouraged by excusing it as a ‘disease’ and by doling out pills for it. We might have had money for PPE had it not been for this.

    1. Anonymous
      April 6, 2020

      Unfortunately the whole point of the lock-down method is to extend the epidemic – that’s bad news for the economy.

      The debate should be about which approach (lock-down or back-to-work) is going to kill more and thus far we have not even had one.

      We are not even allowed to say where it came from while the West bashing goes on and on.

      1. Lifelogic
        April 6, 2020

        That is indeed the dilemma. Prof. Neil Ferguson (yesterday) said half of ICU bed were currently occupied by Covid 19 patients. This almost certainly means that in some areas the NHS is already being overloaded. We know, for example, that 13 people at the nursing home in Scotland were not even taken to hospital for treatment. It will be about four times worse in about 14 days time.

        Oxygen is one thing full mechanical ventilation is the main area with lack of capacity. Get this up and start to slowly get people back to work.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 6, 2020

          Newly installed Labour leader Keir Starmer just said “nobody should be seeking to take advantage” of the pandemic. What a complete and utter foolish and socialist dope the man is.

          Of course people and businesses should seeking to profit. That is how we will get a vaccine more quickly, how the housebound with get their food and other deliveries, how we will develop better tests, get more ventilators and ICU capacity and how we will get more PPE gear, doctors and nurses to where they are needed.

          These socialist dopes just do not have a clue how the World works.

      2. MWB
        April 6, 2020

        Who isn’t alowwed to say where it came from ?

        It came from Wuhan, which the last time I looked is in CHINA. This is the 4th or 5th epidemic/pandemic that the CHINESE have inflicted upon us.

      3. Martin in Cardiff
        April 6, 2020

        Don’t be silly.

        Many scientists have said that the virus almost certainly came from China.

        HIV/AIDs came from Africa.

        MERS came from the Middle East.

        Swine Flu came from North America.

        And BSE/nvCJD – a prion disease – appears to have come from the UK.

        Epidemiologists have been warning of this very possibility, nay, near-certainty, for years.

        You are free to repeat any of those claims.

        1. DavidJ
          April 6, 2020

          It was initiated in China as a good candidate for such infections to start but where did it really originate? I have heard various claims including the UK but did it originate naturally or has it come from a biological weapons facility?
          It certainly suits the agenda of the globalists.

        2. Lester Beedell
          April 6, 2020

          I’m beginning to wonder if you’ve nothing else to do other than write posts on Sir John’s diary?
          Your output is prodigious and I’m filled with admiration but you do need a hobby, gardening perhaps?

          1. Anonymous
            April 6, 2020

            One suspects a retired civil servant of good standing.

        3. NickC
          April 6, 2020

          Martin, As usual your claims are over-simplistic, if not outright wrong. “Swine flu” for example was known to exist in both America and Asia prior to the outbreak of one particular swine flue – H1N1 in the USA. Virus mutation and assortment happens fairly often, so it may be rather more difficult to pinpoint location than you appear to understand.

          However the virus responsible for Covid19 flu (SARS-CV-2) is very specific to Wuhan, China. So much so that it is fairly mainstream to regard it as having escaped from the Chinese state research laboratory in Wuhan. Some snowflakes see “racism” everywhere (or pretend to) and have criticised anyone calling this virus the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus. So you’re wrong about that too.

        4. Anonymous
          April 6, 2020

          It is our MSM which has memory holed the origin of Covid 19 (and the cover up and who covered it up) as it batters Trump, the USA and Boris.

          The WHO was saying it was non-contagious between humans as late as mid January and then dragged their feet to declare it a pandemic.

        5. steve
          April 6, 2020


          Factual and well put.

          FYI some epidemiologists reckon there is perhaps 500 or so influenza strains capable of reaching outbreak, and most likely to do so from Asia.

          Frightening stuff.

          1. Anonymous
            April 6, 2020

            He missed my original point though.

          2. Martin in Cardiff
            April 7, 2020

            Anon, you raised more than one.

            I addressed just one your last, but I accept your first.

            There is an implied premise to your second which I do not accept – that is, that all deaths arising under whatever circumstances are morally and or legally of equal weight, and also deterministically attributable.

      4. steve
        April 6, 2020


        “Unfortunately the whole point of the lock-down method is to extend the epidemic ”

        Actually it’s two-fold.

        1) It is in the short term to stop viral transmission. Government doesn’t want the epidemic extended anymore than we do.

        2) Longer term you will have to wait and see, but you can be certain we’ll get stitched up somehow, we’ll loose liberties and enshrined rights.

        It’s damned difficult to talk to anyone nowadays, except for on the net which can be, and is, heavily censored.

        I do wonder if some bright spark came up with the idea that if everyone could be kept six feet apart, and mass gatherings banned, then political opposition could be suppressed.

        1. Anonymous
          April 6, 2020


          If we all go out in threes then we can be left, right AND centre.

    2. agricola
      April 6, 2020

      Yes aim to achieve a restrained return to work at the end of April. All those who have managed to continue their work from home should be possitively encouraged to continue doing so. Government should go further to make working from home a norm. The potential for improving productivity and reducing the burden on transport facilities are enormous.

      Create mobile testing facilities that can check employees at all major, medium and small companies, plus airports for arriving passengers. It could also be achieved on long train journeys with a modicum of planning and at major rail stations.

      99% of the public have proved they are responsible and on side so get it organised.

      1. BOF
        April 6, 2020

        Very sensible advice Sir John, the country must be allowed to go back to work asap.

        Unfortunately, I doubt if the ‘experts’ understand sensible.

        1. BOF
          April 6, 2020

          Sorry Agricola, this was meant as a primary comment.

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        April 6, 2020

        The problem with your solution @agricola is that (as my organisation is discovering) working from home does not bring efficiencies and increase productivity. After an initial buzz it is apparent that lethargy and complacency has set in and performance managing it is cumbersome, taking time away from our managers who also have a job to do.

        Infrequent (once a week) working from home is a productivity boon, as a default position it is a recipe for disaster. Added to that we are paying for office space where people collaborate in real time (rather than through video meetings) so we are paying for a tool that is not being used.

        Encouraging all to work from home should only be an emergency measure.

      3. Ian Wragg
        April 6, 2020

        At least 50% of the population probably more aren’t able to work from home. It is mainly the underemployed public sector who make no positive contribution to life.
        In both the public and private sector this lockdown should identify surplus posts which can then be cancelled.
        What the government doesn’t seem to understand is that without the productive private sector there will be no NHS. Destroy the taxbase and the ones sucking on the teat of taxation are redundant.

      4. Roy Grainger
        April 6, 2020

        Correct. A vaccine for HIV has never been developed but in UK the disease is managed by improved and readily available testing, contact tracing, improved treatment, and permanently changed behaviour to avoid transmitting it. That is the model to use.

    3. Mark B
      April 6, 2020

      The NHS was, like so much in life now, politicised and then weaponised by the Left for its own, and unions’, benefit. The Tories have gone along with it for they, much like the LibDems, no longer believe in capitalism, liberty and the rule of law.

      Letting criminals out to roam the streets while the rest of the population is under self-imposed house arrest is madness.

      1. Anonymous
        April 6, 2020

        It is also terrible for the morale of those of us obeying the lock down.

      2. Everhopeful
        April 6, 2020

        Yes, yes 1000x YES!!
        Spot on. 👍🏻

      3. Hope
        April 6, 2020

        Mark, totally agree. Cameron promised that bonfire of quangos and ended up creating more and putting former Labour ministers in charge! PHE quango being a prime left wing example. It serves itself and political agenda. It certainly failed to help save lives by testing etc.

      4. Lifelogic
        April 6, 2020

        Indeed most Tory MPs and certainly Cameron, Osborne, May and Hammond were clearly pro EU, climate alarmist, tax, borrow over regulate and piss down the drain LibDems or Socialist. We shall see if Boris can finally deliver some sensible smaller state policies with real freedom and choice once he recovers.

        Boris desperately needs to ditch his carbon neutral lunacy, HS2 and his other stupidities now.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 6, 2020

          I was encourage when Claire Perry said that Boris Johnson did “not understand climate change”. Good, I too do not understand why people fall for these daft religions either.

          Even if one does believe in the CO2 devil gas lunacy the renewables agenda does not work even in these CO2 terms. It is the alarmist Perry types (Geography Oxon) who either do not understand (or perhaps do not care about reality). These people need to study some physics and energy engineering and get real. The laws of physics will not be changed by political posturing and absurd virtue signalling.

          Let us hope Boris gets his strength back and his backbone on this issue.

      5. glen cullen
        April 6, 2020

        utter madness indeed

      6. steve
        April 6, 2020

        Mark B

        “Letting criminals out to roam the streets while the rest of the population is under self-imposed house arrest is madness.”

        Not to the ones running the country, to them it’s a sound idea.

  5. A start
    April 6, 2020

    I don’t see why open markets selling non-food items cannot restart. Household items, tools, paint, DIY, garden items..seeds, seed potatoes, fertiliser . shoes and other clothes. Mobile phones. Few numbers of stallholders and people generally who do not rub shoulders. In fact in some towns shop keepers may be encouraged to put a stall in front of their shops in the fresh air instead of people going in.
    There are many jobs in factories where people quite naturally work at their own jobs almost independently apart from a fork lift truck driver delivering them a pallet full of half manufactured products and picking up other pallets of ware. The “Goods-in” and “Goods-out” have huge doorways providing ventilation whether the rest of the factory wishes it or not. A bit of imagination can create a healthy working environment.
    They can take their own sandwiches and drinks. Thermos flask if required.

    1. Fred H
      April 6, 2020

      there is some merit in your points.

    2. Hope
      April 6, 2020

      If the govt continues to allow planes full of passengers, seated without social distancing, from virus hotspots and go free from airports without testing or quarantine then it makes a total nonsense, if not dishonesty, for the rationale of our house arrest.

      DR Calderwell against hypocritical another to save lives and her own advice and against the law can go where she pleases why can’t the rest of us?

      How many MPs or ministers have gone to their second homes?

      Moreover why were the cabinet ministers, advisors, top civil servants not held in quarantine to continue the business of govt from Chequers, Cheveny or any other grace and favour residence? It would also reduce security risks and breaches from security staff infections.

      The fact Johnson and Hancock got corona virus is a huge security breach and woeful national contingency planning and a disgrace. Thank heavens it was not a germ warfare our govts would have been taken out very easily!

    3. Stred
      April 6, 2020

      A start. You saved me writing. Also, for example, my friend has had his new kitchen delivered and now the boxed are taking up the dining room. The fitter is not allowed to travel to the job or be in the house. Possibly emergency tradesmen can come but not for home improvement. The customers could live in the rest of the house completely separate from the kitchen with enough food and drinks for three days and the tradesman could bring his own food and chemical toilet. Alternatively clean the bathroom after use and wash hands. Wear face masks. Use gloves. The government should quickly publish a code for working safely in houses occupied by the isolated vulnerable.
      At present most of the transmission is going to be within isolated households where infected members had the disease before the lockdown and between health and care workers and the unfortunate residents.
      This is far more likely to make the situation worse than allowing sensible working alone.

    4. Dave Ward
      April 6, 2020

      “Shop keepers may be encouraged to put a stall in front of their shops”

      And how long would take before a council official told them to remove it?

    5. Not Bob
      April 6, 2020

      I don’t see why open markets selling non-food items cannot restart.

      The govt work for big business not the little people like us

    6. NickC
      April 6, 2020

      A Start, Indeed, very sensible. Some people (certain police, Jeremy Hunt, MiC here, etc) have apparently come to regard the lockdown as an end in itself, rather than a (crude) stopgap. It’s very strange, almost obsessive, that a temporary tool becomes the goal. Maybe it’s substitution activity generated by panic.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        April 6, 2020

        You have a very vivid imagination, the lockdown is a very unwelcome imposition.

        However, it is about all you have, if you don’t heed timely advice to quarantine relevant entrants to the country, to test all suspicious symptoms, trace contacts rigorously, and isolate them.

        That ship has sailed now, unfortunately.

    7. L Jones
      April 6, 2020

      One of the most counter productive closure is that of garden centres. Just at the time when people need to begin sowing for food production, or simply to raise their morale by gardening, the materials aren’t available.
      Surely these shops, as A start says, can practise ”social distancing” as well as any other.
      As you say, A start, no-one seems to be using any imagination. A sledge-hammer to crack a nut, springs to mind.

      1. Ian Wragg
        April 6, 2020

        Well said. I believe Garden Centres are as important as food shops. If they stay closed we shall have to import more salads from abroad which can easily be home grown.

    April 6, 2020

    I am self-employed though I am extremely fortunate in working from home in an occupation that allows me to carry on without interruption. Others in the private sector are not so fortunate

    My sticks in my craw is your party’s cynical, cowardly siding with the feather-bedded public sector who profit whether they’re working or not. In fact during times like this they’ll profit again when in times to come they’ll be politicising this CV-19 issue to call for ever more funding, better salaries, better pensions and no reforms.

    It is quite simple. Your party in government has sacrificed those who can’t fight back (private sector) choosing to while pandering shamelessly to the unionised, politicised public sector

    To top it all, the public sector propaganda is immersive and sinister. It is deliberately emotive and designed to trigger people

    The public sector and Labour is milking this issue for all that it’s worth. This sector of the economy will now enjoy almost unlimited freedom to extract more privileges from this government now they know they can simply play the CV-19 card. And who picks up the cost for their exploiting this issue? Yes, the private sector, again and again

    You have betrayed your natural voter base to indulge in the most appalling spectacle of national virtue signalling we have ever seen

    ps. It’s THE NHS, not OUR NHS

    1. Mark B
      April 6, 2020

      I think bringing the Queen into all this marks a new low for British politics. We are not at war, and the virus is nowhere near as bad, even in the worst hit countries, as say Spanish or Hong Kong Flu.

      I sense the frustration at what is happening, hence the title of this article. This has gone far enough and, whilst people are not feeling the economic effects of what the government has been pressured to do, they soon will. And if this does turn out to be not as bad as people have been led to believe the political consequences are going to be enormous. Think ERM x10.

    2. Hope
      April 6, 2020

      Spot on. NHS needs management reform like no other organisation. It is not doctors or nurses but layer upon layer of useless left wing management and propaganda.

      Get rid of Equality Act, Human Rights, Snoopers charter, climate Change and other left wing dominated laws designed to change society to become a socialist eutopia.

    3. Nig l
      April 6, 2020

      Perfectly put. The government is even taking ‘pensioners’ money in the form of no dividend/ordering the Banks to bail out no hopers .

      Trump is once again showing what a spineless lot we have in charge.

    4. Everhopeful
      April 6, 2020

      Gosh YES!
      Agree with every word.
      OUR NHS…..yuk yuk yuk!!
      If it were…how come it was not reserved for those who paid for it?

    5. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      Indeed and it is “The BBC” not “Our BBC” – we have no control over it or the unfair/anti-competitive way to is funded. We just have to pay the licence fee and then it bombards us with climate alarmist, left wing, pro EU, big state propaganda every single day.

    6. BOF
      April 6, 2020

      A robust comment as usual DOMINIC, but I agree. The NHS has been weaponized by the left for many years and this Chinese virus will be an added bonus.

      The public sector of course is unproductive, and burdensome.

    7. JoolsB
      April 6, 2020

      Spot on Dominic – well said. It would be nice to think one day we might get a proper Conservative Government instead of one in name only to have the guts to redress the balance including drastically reducing the pampered bloated public sector but I doubt it.

      I am also self employed but unfortunately cannot carry on my b & b business here in Cornwall and have lost all income amounting to many thousands. And unlike those in the public sector have had no support from Government whatsoever. Apparently some might come in June, two whole months away. Our out of touch politicians haven’t got a clue how the real world operates.

    8. bigneil(newercomp)
      April 6, 2020

      ” It’s THE NHS, not OUR NHS”

      Apparently it’s the World’s Health Service – as anyone can deliberately turn up – even flying from anywhere in the world – contribute nothing and get treated on the UK taxpayer – translators included. I remember one American drug dealer, living here in the UK, used his dependency on our free treatment to avoid deportation – his claim that he couldn’t afford the insulin back in the USA was accepted as a valid reason to stay – and live on the UK taxpayer. If we HAD to be responsible for that health problem then surely it would have been cheaper to deport him, then pay for his insulin over there? Now he gets everything on us.

    9. NickC
      April 6, 2020

      Dominic, A very good set of comments. And – “you have betrayed your natural voter base” – it was ever thus. Other political parties do the same. It’s because the cynical people who run these parties know that their supporters have no other home. There will come a time, however, when the Labour and Conservative parties really do go too far. We have come close in the last 4 years. The whispers about delaying Brexit yet again may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    10. steve
      April 6, 2020


      Excellently written Dominic, couldn’t agree more.

      What I’d like to know is why the hell BA staff get to sit on their backsides on continued salary, while thousands in defence manufacturing get told they are key workers despite what they do being non essential to food supply or vital services.

      Oh, that’s right I remember now they got it because the government caved in to union demands.

      Makes you sick.

      1. Data Please
        April 6, 2020

        BA Long Haul crew are key workers and as part of the Covid-19 response are currently engaged in (amongst other activities) the repatriation of British Nationals from around the world.

        Trapped in a sealed tin can with around 300 potentially infected people, for many hours, on repeated flights, that make our distancing laws a complete joke isn’t my idea of an ideal job or sitting on my backside.

        The Mixed Fleet crew have been furloughed recently though my understanding is they were initially to be sacked as supported by this source:

  7. SM
    April 6, 2020

    Agreed, John, and the same goes for the rest of the world; what’s the point of keeping (some) people alive only for them to die of hunger, mental stress, other neglected ailments and so on because there’s no work, no money, no facilities?

    1. Data Please
      April 6, 2020

      They’re going to end up with the population going down with Vitamin D deficiency or the likes of scurvy if they carry on at this rate.

      Never mind the serious health issues as a result of a long term stressed, opressed, demoralised sedentary lifestyle accompanied by overindulgence of food, cigarettes, alcohol and probably other substances and activities.

      Thats before you add on the worry and anxiety of becoming unemployed, losing your savings, pension and home amongst others.

      Will future studies show that these current measures killed or created more long term chronic ailments in the population than the numbers they were trying to save ?

      Will it show that they simply moved the casualty demographics from one section of society into another ?

      What if we find that all they did was move the casualty demographics from a group with limited life expectancy (BTW: I’m an Oldie) to what should have been a healthy generation that normally could have enjoyed a long life expectancy.

      In my opinion, we’ve essentially been put into a Social Manipulation experiment, no doubt argued over for years to come via Academic Studies, by the very bodies that are implementing it.

  8. Mark B
    April 6, 2020
    1. Anonymous
      April 6, 2020

      Show the French people the British people back at work and that will sort out Macron.

      1. Anonymous
        April 6, 2020

        Whether we like it or not – Covid 19 is death.

        18 months of lockdown is MORE death.

        1. glen cullen
          April 6, 2020

          after 18 months lockdown we’d sell the whole country to china and be glad we got a dollar

    2. Stred
      April 6, 2020

      Who in the UK would want to go to France, where the lockdown is with large fines and even more restricted but the epidemic is worse at present? Right now they are finding that women cooped up with their husbands for three weeks are being beaten and murdered much more often. They just pinched the protective equipment that Spain needed as it was on the way from Switzerland. The EU had better rely on air freight between ex countries supposed to be cooperating.

    3. bigneil(newercomp)
      April 6, 2020

      Macron might not want to let us in – but has no problems letting people out – especially if they are heading North to freebie land.

    4. Ian @Barkham
      April 6, 2020

      @Mark B

      With this fast moving situation you have come up with an that is almost 3 weeks old. The UK as is France now unrecognizable in those terms.

    5. steve
      April 6, 2020

      Mark B

      Yes I read that. Macron can always come here and run his threats, I don’t think he’d like the response.

  9. Nig l
    April 6, 2020

    Yes And if common sense doesn’t prevail soon, I will start to be civilly disobedient. I don’t believe ‘you’

    As part of a return to normality, I would like HMG to reconsider its face mask policy. If front line workers are considered protected by a nose mask and an overall face shield, why doesn’t that apply to the rest of us?

    Even if not 100%, common sense would indicate it must vastly reduce the risk of germs shooting out from an infected person and then the barriers for potential victims.

    In the media there is informed comment about this but like so much else it seems that the arrogant ‘only our view is the correct one’ from PHE means that a possible aid to eliminating this virus, is not even considered.

    Ps best wishes to Boris and family.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      It always seem to me that despite UK official advice a mask would indeed reduce some transmissions in some circumstances. If nothing else it is a constant reminder to people to take care.

    2. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      Best wishes indeed to poor Boris. Let us hope that when he recovers he has time to reconsider the absurd HS2 project and ditches his zero Carbon lunacy. The last thing the country needs (after the economic and other huge damaging from this virus) is more bloated state, tax borrow and piss down the drain lunacy from the Conservatives.

      We have had far, far too much of this already from Cameron/Osborne and May/Hammond.

    3. Everhopeful
      April 6, 2020

      Strikes me as odd…dentists and surgeons cower behind masks…for mutual benefit I always though.
      The dental thing must have been an EU directive as with those ghastly latex-tasting gloves because they only seemed to appear in the 90s?
      Apparently one needs to REMOVE a mask correctly ( from the back) and to not touch the spitty wet bits.
      Also it is not wise to rely too much on them since some have little virus entry gaps in the sides. Big, black, occlusive may be best?
      In all probability the only reason that masks are not obligatoire is because THERE IS A SHORTAGE!
      How the police would love to arrest us for non compliance.
      “Forgot the mask did we sir?” …£300 on the spot fine.

    4. Hope
      April 6, 2020

      If prisoners can be released early to see their families as a law abiding citizen I am going to see mine. No justification whatsoever for this govt decision other than an excuse to hide weakness and allow prisoners out contrary to manifesto promises.

    5. forthurst
      April 6, 2020

      The WHO has stated that COVID-19 is not spread by aerosols but by droplets which drop rather float in the air. This suggests that face masks provide protection both for wearers and those in proximity to them. Eyes need to be protected as well. A German professor who is trying to establish modes of transmission, in one study, did not find evidence of transmission in a supermarket; this is presumably because people do not need to talk to effect their shopping so their mouths are shut and not generating droplets. Politicians are obviously super transmitters because their mouths are rarely shut. Looking at photos of Wuhan fish market online, shows people crowding around stalls and not wearing face masks.

  10. Jeff12
    April 6, 2020

    A large reduction in income has a consequence of reduced life expectancy. This enormous economic catastrophe will cost far more in human lives than the virus could ever manage even if we believe the figures which are highly dubious.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      I do not really accept this. It is not sensible to compare a developed country which has a drop in income with other different & poorer countries. We could easily be slightly poorer and still have better life expectancy. We do not forget what we know already about good health because we are slightly poorer. It is about how we choose to spend the money were do have.

      Eating a bit less, smoking less and drinking less alcohol (which needs less money not more) would all have a positive effect on life expectancy on average. Structuring the NHS in a sensible way and getting real freedom and choice into UK health care would get more money into the health care sector. Even if the economy were slightly smaller.

    2. steve
      April 6, 2020


      Yes I agree.

      If you think about it, if this virus had been a tactic of terrorism it would have been a damed effective one.

      The effects will take many years to recover from.

    3. Ed M
      April 6, 2020

      I agree.

      Problem is millions are scared, in particular passing it on to family and friends (and there’s no point getting angry about that – we just have to deal with it). So it’s about dealing with the psychology too. If people aren’t confident, they won’t return to work properly. And dealing with psychology is the number 1 priority of great leadership – keeping people confident (in the right way).

      Therefore the government needs to reassure people by minimising death as much as possible. 1) Protect old and vulnerable as much as possible 2) Introduce cleverer technology and systems for social distancing like in China (whilst people there carry on working), and of course, far more testing, ventilators, PPE, emergency beds.

      Lastly, timing is key too (we don’t want people scared going back to work( i.e. when we’re still in the peak of the virus). Churchill’s greatest strength, perhaps, was keeping people upbeat and confident.

      I think we can have the best of both worlds, reduce death drastically whilst getting back to work soon as possible and en masse and protecting our economy. But we have to do the hard work now of getting the strategy right (not forgetting we need to build up the NHS for the 18 months or so until this virus is finally brought to a head by a vaccination and/or effective treatment), including timing. If we get the strategy and timing wrong, then don’t forget, we’ll have 18 months of this virus to deal with one way or the other, in some shape of form.

      Then we can come out of this largely unscathed (both in terms of health and economy) although slightly wounded. But things could be a lot worse if we don’t get the strategy and timing right now.


    4. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      Indeed lots of poor parts of Italy (for example) have rather good life expectancy.

    5. My Toe Pie
      April 6, 2020

      This morning an American network had a small discussion. It concluded broadly speaking the Health Brigade and not the Economist Brigade are in power.
      Arguably . in my view, the Health Brigade does not look at health problems past ‘this’ patient in ‘this’ bed.
      There will be health problems in the very near future here and across the world by us not getting back to work about which The Health Brigade has severe myopia untreated.

  11. oldtimer
    April 6, 2020

    Sounds sensible to me. The object of the shutdown was to flatten the curve to give the NHS time to prepare more specialist facilities to deal with Covid-19. We were advised the three weeks should be enough to help break the transmission rate. The majority of people have taken the trouble to self isolate and keep a safe distance. We are told the results of the first comprehensive survey (by Porton Down) will be available early this week. That evidence and the actual rate of reported infections/hospital admission/deaths this coming week should provide evidence on which to base a decision to return to normality. At some point that return to normality must be achieved. Those who think it must wait on the development of an effective vaccine are whistling in the dark. The economy and possibly social order will have imploded before then.

  12. BeebTax
    April 6, 2020

    We’ all going to either get this virus, or be vaccinated against it. The vaccine is a long way off, in Covid terms, so the best bet must me to isolate the most vulnerable in the hope we can eventually vaccinate them, and meanwhile manage the return to work for the rest of us.

    Those that can work from home should continue to do so, while we focus on the rest, turning the economic tap back on in a planned manner, where we can react if there are regional problems in dealing with any upsurge in the numbers requiring hospitalisation.

  13. DaveM
    April 6, 2020

    Good morning. The best comment I’ve read on this subject to date. Please broadcast it as widely as you are able Sir John.

  14. H!
    April 6, 2020

    It’s obviously not just about having ventilators, but medical and nursing staff to manage the complex needs of a ventilated patient. With so many NHS staff still off awaiting testing (and the need for rapid results of tests) things can’t open up in any way til we truly have capacity (doctors and nurses with the correct skills and PPE) to deliver what is needed.

  15. Dave Andrews
    April 6, 2020

    The advice has always been that business should continue, except for those specific ones that involve people meeting. If the government should do anything now, it should be to underline that message and tell people they should go to work if they can. At the moment, anyone going to work is treated as a pariah, if the work they are doing isn’t deemed essential to fighting the coronavirus emergency. That’s not what the official government advice is saying.
    There are many people who are worried they might take the virus home to vulnerable family members. That’s not a valid reason to stop working (assuming they can’t work from home), but the media has made it out that it is.
    My work is essential, it’s my livelihood.

  16. APL
    April 6, 2020

    JR: “The rest of us should be free to go back to workplaces whilst continuing with strong hygiene measures and whilst keeping a sensible distance from others where possible.”

    Finally, some common sense.

  17. Ian @Barkham
    April 6, 2020

    “A 3 week firebreak against the virus”

    The virus doesn’t live without a host. If the virus still exist after Easter weekend it literally means, there was no firebreak, no self isolation, no social distancing.

    In a nutshell it means the Government has set out to punish the people, the situation will drag out in for a long time yet. It will cost billions more that a proper 3 week lock down.

  18. Bob Dixon
    April 6, 2020

    My small accountancy company revised budget for the year to 31/3/2021 shows a reduced profit after tax down by 50%.
    We will not be able to pay full wages so need the monetary help the government announced.
    We need the Government Grant ASAP.
    Our clients need financial help ASAP.
    There has been no announcements when this will happen.
    There have-been no announcements when we can return to our jobs.

  19. Ian @Barkham
    April 6, 2020

    If as it seems this virus is a killer. As we know it, it is spread by us the people and it dies if we don’t give it an immediate host. The science the government is using says outside a host it can last up to 2 days, inside a host 7 days. So why after 21 days does it exist at all?

    If we didn’t isolate, self distance and all the rest – it is possible to argue we are complicate in attempted murder.

    April 6, 2020

    Private bad. Public good. The new Tory philosophy of liberal left authoritarianism.

    Friedman bad. Keynes good

    Burke bad. Marx good

    Welcome to the new Tory party. A party that believes in nothing except genuflecting to any liberal left pressure group are leftist organisation that applies pressure upon them

  21. Ian @Barkham
    April 6, 2020

    Most small businesses need to interact with the consumer. The consumer as I see at the moment would be to scared to permit any contact. So how would easing work more than doing the lockdown correctly in the first place

    The reason I would guess is the Government wasn’t serious about any lockdown. It was very much a do as I say not as I do situation. Calderwood and Starmer illustrating their contempt for the society that pay their wages.

  22. zorro
    April 6, 2020

    Absolutely right, there is clearly massive ICU capacity which they are not being transparent about at all by saying there is some, but still not saying how many beds are available.

    What is it with these lunatics in government who cannot see the blindingly obvious economic fortune on the wall??

    Is there another reason for these unparalleled restrictions?

    JR, how does it feel to be a member of an authoritarian socialist government who are coming up with a numpty government permission to work strategy? Are they mad?

    I am more than ever convinced that this cannot be a health crisis but is almost certainly (for whatever reason) a political and economic crisis….

    The BBC Breakfast are egging the government on to put in plans to have a walking/breathing permit before we go outside!!


  23. Bryan Harris
    April 6, 2020

    An exit strategy has to be a phased one… based on gradients.

    Start allowing small businesses to operate, barbers and small shops – keeping in the social distancing rules as much as possible, while seeking a cure.

    I’m sure government strategists can work out a plan that allows normal life to apply, even if things life huge gatherings, including football matches, conferences, concerts and funerals are not phased in for some time.
    Appeal to people’s common sense by common sense decisions, not imposing unnecessary restrictions while not policing the worst offenders.

    1. SM
      April 6, 2020

      Very sensible proposals, but sadly common sense is a rare commodity – globally!

  24. Bryan Harris
    April 6, 2020

    Don’t we need a practical cure for those affected before we consider an exit?
    Are the government going to ignore the benefits of using an existing drug: Hydroxychloroquine.
    Several countries have found it to work – Are we going to stick our collective head in the sand over this? Trump has approved it’s use.
    As for Hancock’s complaints about sunbathers – How pathetic can we get? He should be doing something about the people out in the streets, congregating in their dozens and at funerals…. Ah, but most of these have special status.
    Is his dictatorial attitude going to continue? If he tries to impose forced vaccinations then you will really see a great deal of civil disobedience

    1. Bryan Harris
      April 6, 2020

      JR – I’d be interested to know what you find offensive about the above – You are reluctant to approve it, so it seems?

      Will it be censored out?

    2. margaret
      April 6, 2020

      Yes and as covid-19 is bigger corona virus ( so I am informed) even the antibiotic azithromycin may be of use.

  25. glen cullen
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John your assessment is correct

    Lift the lockdown so shop and business can reopen

    Allow schools and childcare facilities to reopen

    The stock exchange has fallen by 75% including banks etc that are now open to hostile takeovers

    Every day the lockdown continues is another day a company is going bust never to return and another day unemployment will rise

    Do it today

  26. Narrow Shoulders
    April 6, 2020

    I agree with you Sir John but in London (and elsewhere) I suspect that public transport has contributed to the quick spread of this virus with people commuting to work in cattle trucks crushed against each other as services are cancelled or are too few for the over populated space in which we live.

    How do we get to work without spreading this disease further? There is not space for us all to park our cars and the bus driver’s son is not going to life the congestion charge despite the fact that emissions have fallen

  27. Lifelogic
    April 6, 2020

    A letter in the Sunday Telegraph from a doctor says that the chief medical officer has banned people from treating Covid 19 patients with anything but paracetamol and oxygen if severe. Is this true? We are not going to learn very much if we do just this.

    No real harm in trying other things that have a chance of helping and seem to have helped elsewhere.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 6, 2020

      Is the NHS’s priority to save lives or to avoid litigation?

    2. anon
      April 7, 2020

      Should be an individual Doctor Patient relative choice, with guidance but no compulsion. So if they can prescribe in France (note we are still in the EU) or say USA why not here?

      Surely this is a totalitarian approach, overzealous, over-reach by the very organizations who are looking to protect something other than patients.

      It seems harsh to lockdown a nation but beyond sense to not allow individual Doctors and Patients to choose to follow best practice from other areas? More likely we don’t have any for obvious reasons to do with poor planning etc

      Have any individuals been treated differently than this regime?

      Can we get some Police into these departments to start gathering evidence.

  28. James Freeman
    April 6, 2020

    For this to work, I expect alternative measures put in place to constrain the spread of the virus including:

    – Comprehensive tracing service to find the sources of all new cases, with testing of past contacts.
    – Mobile phone app to assist with finding past contacts.
    – Border controls from countries with high levels of infection.
    – Quarantining areas of the country with high numbers of cases, allowing the rest of the country to get back to work.
    – Use of face masks.

    Most of these measures will take time to put into place. Unfortunately I have seen little evidence of such strategies being considered. Without these the virus will simply return requiring another lockdown.

  29. glen cullen
    April 6, 2020

    Keep hearing that its week 3 and we need to see how it goes

    Well for SMEs it year 4.5 and its been getting worse everyday, margins are tighter, incomes reduced, orders slow, brexit and trade talks uncertainty and now this virus

    Some people just don’t get it because they’re safe with a public salary but most SMEs, the smaller one’s with less than 50 employees, will not survive till the end of April…they will not survive the week.

    The government will be paying furlough to companies that have ceased trading come June

  30. The PrangWizard
    April 6, 2020

    I’d put garden centres on the list of early openers. the cafes and shop areas could remain closed but it should be ok to open the plant sales areas with no more risk than applies to supermarkets, perhaps less. There may be a little time before growers lose stock but not much and it would save them too.

  31. Iain Moore
    April 6, 2020

    An exit strategy ? Could that involve Hydroxychloroquine?

    1. H!
      April 6, 2020

      Why? Has a methodologically sound randomised control trial reported that it is effective? Please send me the reference.

    2. Iain Moore
      April 6, 2020

      Ooops spoke too soon, I gather India has now barred the export of Hydroxychloroquine, they are also the world’s supplier of the base ingredients of it. Isn’t Globalism great , but I doubt our political class will learn any lessons, more likely they will be even more enthusiastic about putting our head in the noose.

  32. Richard1
    April 6, 2020

    Look at Sweden. They have not done a lock down. Only 1/4 of their ICU beds are occupied (& they started with fewer per head then the U.K. has). There is no lock-down. It’s not obvious things are any worse there. Sweden will also be distinguishing between people who have died of and people who have died with the virus – there is an important distinction.

    The danger now is the economy is driven into the ground on the advice of – perfectly well-intentioned – public health officials, who are focusing entirely on the single metric of CV infections. The government have to consider the effect on other health outcomes (cancer patients who aren’t getting treated eg), on the massive damage an economic depression will do – which will include much worse healthcare.

    We can agree the lock-down has bought time for the NHS to ramp up capacity but it cannot continue much longer without – as President Trump was lambasted for saying – the cure being worse than disease.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      April 7, 2020

      Look again in about six weeks time.

  33. Jim
    April 6, 2020

    An awful lot of ‘shoulds’ in this article. The tricky bit is translating them into coulds and cans and wills.

    We don’t really know what the effect of relaxing the lock down will be. Seems to me a lot of people will take any relaxation a lot further than some kind of ‘protect the vulnerable’ approach. Possibly that is the intent.

    Looking into history we can see that lock downs even for plague were very difficult to keep up. Then we must consider the real agenda here – limiting economic damage, even at the cost of human lives. If we take off the brakes will the death toll rise to 10,000 or 100,000 or more, no-one can be sure. Maybe, just maybe, the numbers will plateau, but a hell of a gamble.

    As said in another context ‘we know what to do, the problem is getting elected again afterwards’. Whilst Corbyn was ‘running’ Labour the Tories could have got away with anything. As things stand making a mistake over lock down might save a few shareholders but ensure an exit strategy for the Tory government. Depending on how things go that might be a smart move. Possibly a good way to pass on a poisoned chalice. Lots to think about.

  34. miami.mode
    April 6, 2020

    The impression given was that our government took action after pressure from other European governments and presumably the same will happen in reverse and west Europeans will all move at the same pace.

  35. Everhopeful
    April 6, 2020

    It seems that the govt has made home testing kits illegal and do not want any further submissions from firms for kits!
    This despite there being kits for sale on the internet for a couple of hundred quid.
    All seems a bit muddled. And there was Mr Cummings hoping such matters would be simplified by “Brexit” ( what WAS that?).
    Are we actually still waiting on the JRC for the green light on kits?
    They appear to be “harmonising” the virus across the EU with a synthetic control material. Kind of …this is the official virus…now find it!
    All very strange!

    1. Everhopeful
      April 6, 2020

      Because SARS-CoV-2. mutates rapidly tests can only look for the non-mutating bit of the virus and that is what the control represents.
      So how come in a pandemic the causative virus is hard to identify?
      Any clued up bio- chemists on here…I find all this very interesting.

  36. Christine
    April 6, 2020

    It’s nice to see DIY shops have added to their list of click and collect items so people can now start to buy paint and bedding plants etc.

    Spain is allowing their shops to reopen on 11th April.

    We need to get the balance right between protecting the NHS and the economy.

    I’m hoping that the government is planning for the next stage of getting people back to work.

    The vulnerable and elderly need to continue to self-isolate.

  37. Kevin
    April 6, 2020

    We ought to abandon the national anthem: it is not equitable that we should be asked to invoke God on behalf of the monarch if she will not invoke Him on behalf of her subjects.

  38. William Long
    April 6, 2020

    At the end of the day the present policy can only work by popular consent and cooperation and it is becoming clear that neither will not survive much longer. I think Matt Hancock’s suggestion that people could not exercise outside their homes would have killed both immediately if put into effect.
    The real problem of course is the lack of any meaningful statistics on which to base a decision.

  39. villaking
    April 6, 2020

    Absolutely, Sir John. Please continue to do all you can to change minds on this. Sadly, when I see the hopelessly out of depth Matt Hancock talking, I fear common sense will not prevail and we are moving further towards a police state.

    1. glen cullen
      April 6, 2020

      Not just a police state but a pretty poor one going by the level of competence of regional police chief constables on select committee today and aired on TV. They all said that they interpreted the new regulations by what was presented by the PM & MPs….Not one of them thought to actually read the regulation…what are we paying these people for ?

  40. Christine
    April 6, 2020

    It’s important not to tighten the restrictions and continue to allow people out to exercise. In Spain exercise isn’t allowed and this has caused people to walk to the supermarkets every day causing unnecessary large gatherings of people.

    We should, where possible, avoid using public transport. The sad deaths of so many London bus drivers highlights the issue of viral load. More effort needs to be put into providing face masks for those using public transport and visiting shops and doctors.

  41. Mike Stallard
    April 6, 2020

    Can I go back to Church? This is Holy Week and I want to celebrate it.
    At the moment the Archbishop of Canterbury has even banned private prayer (although how to get into a locked building I do not know.)

    1. Fred H
      April 6, 2020

      Why do you need a building ie a church?
      Why not kneel at your bedside and pray?

  42. Everhopeful
    April 6, 2020

    Not to mention all the nonsense that comes directly from the UN ( and is repeated by all leaders) about us being “at war” with the virus.
    “World vs Virus”
    Is the slogan!
    It’s a bl***y DISEASE.
    We can’t UNITE against it!!!

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      April 7, 2020

      Just pretend that it’s some people that you don’t like Everhopeful.

      Of course the world can unite against it, like it did against smallpox, polio, TB and other diseases.

  43. Will Jones
    April 6, 2020

    Thank you John for your courageous and clear headed stand in this when many are staying silent. I wholeheartedly support what you propose.

    1. Mark B
      April 6, 2020


  44. Sir Joe Soap
    April 6, 2020

    Given that the infection should last 2-3 weeks, in households with one member the lockdown should have run its course. With several household members, the process would take longer as cross infection could occur.

    Companies have had space to consider measures they can take to reduce risk in cross infection. 3 shift working, personal hygiene steps and so on can be taken. Combine this with risk assessments on individual employees – and the more vulnerable being supported to remain in isolation, and a partial return can start next Monday I believe.

  45. steve
    April 6, 2020


    “We do not want to create a perverse incentive to put yourself in harms way to try to catch the virus so you can then win your freedom.”

    To be honest JR, I don’t see many people doing that. More likely this damned 2M rule will probably stick, with people continuing to be treated like lepers.

    There is also an advantage to the political class that mass gatherings can be banned – very useful in suppressing opposition.

    Sorry to pour cynicism on your sentiments Mr Redwood, but I have yet to see a government that didn’t turn a crisis to its own advantage, divide and rule as they say.

  46. nhsgp
    April 6, 2020

    What’s the plan Stan?
    I can guess. You are going to target the innocent and screw them with taxes. Pick some group, go after them and force them to pay the penalties for political errors.
    Same as usual.
    1. Identify some group.
    2. Target them
    3. Deny them any right of consent.

    It’s for their own good etc,… These are extraordinary times … They can afford it …

  47. Caterpillar
    April 6, 2020

    Yes end lockdown with “strong hygiene measures and whilst keeping a sensible distance”. The hand-washing needs to be restressed with more than a duration, technique matters and was never pushed sufficiently at the beginning -make it PD for companies to reopen! Some people will still need to self-isolate for 7 to 14 days and this would have been (and still remains) a place where financial support should have been focussed prior to lockdown (obviously this can be assisted with an increase in testing). Anyone, even if they have already cleared CV19, should be made to wear a mask if out and about with cough / sniffles etc (including Mr Hancock). Public transport needs to be expanded at least back to pre-lockdown levels (again if more money needed to be directed to subsidise more buses to spread people out this may well have cost less than lockdown), council services such as recycling centres/tips re-opened etc. Schools should be able to re-open for all; if they cannot run at full density at least part time to keep critical subjects of maths and English running. GCSE maths papers should simply substitute the three papers with one paper – it’s possible to write a single paper that assesses students and since schools would have had to timetable for each of three papers they can simply run (three versions of) one paper at a third density. Rules for bars / restaurants need to be issued e.g. hand sanitising on entry and exit, spacing, screens (?), sit-down not standing etc.

  48. Alan Jutson
    April 6, 2020

    Not an expert in any way, but it would seem:

    Without a reliable testing method, all policies are simply a gamble.

    We will only know if the so called Government policy of lock down works after 3-4 weeks when results /deaths can be compared more accurately.

    The choice is a personal one to weigh up what your own odds may be, if you can get reliable information.

    The governments job is to get enough treatment centres together, with enough people to man them who are protected with proper and efficient PPE that is fit for purpose.

    People can substantially reduce the personal risk by simply opting out of close social contact.

    No one actually knows what a safe distance is, as it will depend upon your surroundings.

    In all probability the highest risk of infection may be in Hospitals, supermarkets, crowded public transport, or indeed any place where air change is limited.

    Your front door is your own personal safety screen and barrier, anything that passes through it from outside presents some sort of risk, so you should manage that accordingly.
    You can reduce that risk if you have a garage, because you can use that as the isolation holding/quarantine point for goods, for as long as you feel it sensible.

    I see no problem with people working outside as long as they are sensible with distancing.

    Masks would seem sensible to me if you have enough of them and they are not worn for too long, and clothes if worn outside, should be washed on a very regular basis.

    Is the treatment worse than the cure, afraid only time will tell, but the longer the present treatment goes on, the longer the recovery.

  49. Caterpillar
    April 6, 2020

    Alongside returning to normality the Govt needs to publish clear calculations of lockdown decision e.g. statistical value of lives saved compared with drop in GDP, direct lives saved compared with indirect lives lost, QALY saved compared with QALY lost, lives saved compared with losses of future growth and hence life expectancies, lives saved compared with the same resources being directed to improving health and hence life-quality of population etc. There are many alternative approaches to framing the decision, some of which I presume must have been carried out before the lockdown decision, but when Mr Hancock presents it seems only that the two situations (lockdown or not) of deaths somehow associated with CV19 is all that was considered – stop selling the pen and ask what matters.

  50. Data Please
    April 6, 2020

    Once again Sir John – Wise Words.

    In the first stages the Govt can stop its Nanny State hand wringing and absolve itself of any fear from the MSM and Twitterati shouting Hurty Words at them, by making the ban lift voluntary.

    If the Govt decides to start treating the vast majority of us like Adults capable of assessing risk (Big Secret: We do it Every Day) they can declare that those who wish to return to normality are free to do so but not without the risks that have been clearly identified.

    That statement can include a caveat that to the best of its knowledge adequate measures are now in place to cater for severe cases.

    Advise those currently believed to be at most risk to stay in the current lockdown conditions.

    I think those who are adequately working from home should continue to do so and help push the reform of out dated working practices forward.

    Without conducting an 18 month campaign for a referendum I can’t think of any other way of quickly getting public consent or not for a policy.

    Democracy and the treatment of the population as Adults must prevail over Authoritarianism to counter any existential threat.

  51. mickc
    April 6, 2020

    Yes, an entirely correct approach to the matter.

  52. Old person
    April 6, 2020

    How can any decisions be made when the data presented to the public is flawed.

    The website,, is doing it’s best to present the worldwide statistics on Covid-19.

    However, the UK has been reporting only 135 people have recovered since March 22nd.

    total cases – active cases – deaths = recovered

    Clearly the recovered number is wrong, meaning that one or more of the important numbers are wrong.

    Even Italy and Spain are reporting more believable numbers.

    Strange how Japan had a surge in numbers after the Olympics were postponed.

    Notice also how some countries are reporting a few deaths for most of the day and then the large actual number of deaths as the website stores the statistics before midnight GMT.

    The UK had the third highest number of deaths worldwide yesterday.

    1. anon
      April 7, 2020

      Do they include deaths in care homes etc or elsewhere in the community?

      1. Old person
        April 7, 2020

        France has recently included deaths in nursing homes – hence the spikes on the 2nd to 4th April.

        The UK has expressed the intention to record deaths outside of hospitals – but intentions are not numbers.

        The real difficulty is that it is easy to test for a coronavirus (this includes the seasonal common cold) to eliminate non cases. The longer test to check for a sequence in the RNA of Covid-19 takes up to 5 days and is 100% accurate potentially delaying these results.

        The WHO needs to take a stand on all this and insist that the statistics all follow the same parameters and methodology.

  53. Data Please
    April 6, 2020

    This crisis is a Marxist Dream.

    An existentialist threat, that can be exploited to crush an initially unquestioning and willing society into destitution to facilitate control by an Authoritarian regime.

    In my opinion the Public Bodies and Quangos that are immune from the Financial Crisis their strategy is inflicting on this country, are instigating the above supported by either a naive or collaborative Govt.

    What a fantastic time to be on the Public Payroll, especially if in control of policy.

    Implement policies that trash the economy, then Carpet Bag assets and capital at bargain basement prices afterwards, because you’re the only ones with any Salaries, Pensions, Savings, and the ability to borrow money whilst you even keep your Home.
    What’s not to like ?

    Eagerly supported by a Political Establishment that can recommend to their Wealthy Chums to ready themselves for the Carpetbagging opportunities to come.

    To paraphrase Churchill:

    “Never in the Field of History has so much Wealth been Transferred from so Many to so Few”

  54. Original Chris
    April 6, 2020

    Many businesses will go bankrupt……I think many have already, and among the larger businesses bad news yesterday:

    Topshop and Dorothy Perkins owner Arcadia is ‘preparing to close a huge number’ of its 550 stores as coronavirus lockdown decimates Britain’s high streets – as Debenhams faces administration
    • Arcadia has reportedly called in accountants from Deloitte due to the shutdown
    • It has already furloughed 14,500 of its 16,000 staff members during the crisis
    • Debenhams has also called in accountancy firm KPMG as it battles to stay afloat

    I am not saying that these companies were necessarily in excellent shape before the virus, but they would have been like so many others, trying to survive and turning over a small profit, while battling the demise of the high streets shops in general. Even a short spell of lockdown is disastrous for them, and as for the garden centres…..real disaster, and totally unnecessary, in my view. There should have been some system whereby you could order online and pickup at specified time, or some restriction on numbers in the shop at the same time.

  55. Newmania
    April 6, 2020

    Has it occurred to you that many people will be unable to go to work when the schools are shut . Most households are dual income.
    Open the schools with the virus in the population and we will all get it, that is certainly happens with every other lurgy doing the rounds and it would render any other measures more or less useless.

  56. steve
    April 6, 2020


    “many businesses will go bankrupt…”

    Frankly some of them deserve to go bust after the way they’ve treated people. I certainly won’t be buying from some of the large chain outlets ever again.

    As a matter of comparison I have been able to visit a number of Polish shops in my area, and acquire everything I need. These shops are dealing with the problem in the correct way; little to no queueing, hand sanitising on entry, staff wearing latex gloves and face masks, and where they have to queue to avoid crowding – they’re the only places where I’ve been called ‘Sir’. No day-glo vested rude morons. That’s how it SHOULD be done.

  57. Andy
    April 6, 2020

    Alas. The lockdown is not ending this week. Or next week. Or the week after. In fact it won’t end this month – and maybe not next month either. You would all know this already if Johnson has been honest with you. But we know he has a fluid relationship with the truth.

    With tougher restrictions than we have here China’s lockdown was nearly 3 months. There is no reason to believe that ours will significantly shorter. And, of course, the Chinese government has a degree of competence which ours does not have.

    Having first settled on Mr Cummings strategy to protect the economy but let mostly old people die, Johnson then changed horses in mid-race when he was told it might be a quarter of a million mostly old people. Allowing your own voters to die is not a good strategy.

    But today we learn they the biggest economic hit will be faced by young people. Those with the least, often with insecure incomes. It is clear we need a vast wealth tax on the old – whose lives we have saved – to bail us all out when this is over.

    Meanwhile the serial incompetent Dominic Raab is now effectively running this police state. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Edward2
      April 6, 2020

      You wont raise much from old people living on the State pension with your “vast wealth tax”

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        April 7, 2020

        There are several trillion pounds worth of equity in UK residential property.

        That is far and away owned by mostly older people.

        I’m not for one moment suggesting that it should be confiscated, but Andy is broadly correct in his claim.

        1. Edward2
          April 7, 2020

          That is effectively what you are suggesting.
          Don’t be so coy.
          You and Andy want to target just old people with “a vast wealth tax”
          Based on a notional value of their assets.
          Like their home.
          This is on top of 40% inheritance tax and the annual Council tax they pay.

          And where does this annual cash fine come from?
          Just because the small terrace house you bought decades ago is now worth many times more than you paid doesn’t mean you have any cash in the bank.

          It’s always more and more tax for you left wing people.
          Best of luck getting elected with policies like this.

  58. Draggi
    April 6, 2020

    Not very good or sensible advice John- you should really listen to the WHO, the government and to our health advisers. With so many people in other countries also suffering and dying we should know full well by now that we are in the middle of a worldwide epidemic outside of our control and that it would not be good for the health of people generally to go off half-cocked at this time. Covid-19 is very real and it is killing people.

  59. RichardP
    April 6, 2020

    It gets my vote Sir John.

    Perhaps a more relaxed view could also be taken towards individuals and family groups walking in parks and the countryside, providing social distancing rules are observed.

    Sunshine and fresh air boosts the immune system, something to be recommended in the current circumstances.

    1. glen cullen
      April 6, 2020

      The 2m social distancing rules are a guidance from Public Health England (PHE)

  60. everyone knows
    April 6, 2020

    It is difficult to see how you could enforce a ban on people who had not had the virus from traveling and working.

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    1. NickC
      April 6, 2020

      Everyone, Yup, ID chip implants are for everyone. Bit frightening ain’t it? Not just the chips, I mean. The fact that a barely literate peasant (not my description, a modern atheist’s) can foresee 2000 years into the future.

      1. Fred H
        April 7, 2020

        and bread and fish are in short supply.

  61. a-tracy
    April 6, 2020

    A lot of companies are coming to the end of the first 3 week furlough period this Friday. I believe employees have been thinking it’s like an indoors holiday, time to catch up on a bit of decorating, gardening or reading – however – this need to go out each day when they normally wouldn’t go for a walk, run or cycle and then sit in a park (feeling safe because they’ve got a good gap from others) shows you that isolation is very difficult especially if you live alone, sometimes if you live with someone you don’t have much in common with, we don’t even do it to prisoners). Even on 80% pay, without travel expenses, lunches, restaurant meals and entertainment most people can just about cope for a month but more I’m not sure they can.

    The likes of Piers Morgan can someone please challenge him to not work, stay in a flat alone for three weeks with his iPad.

    Those that didn’t furlough and are considering it today will have to furlough for three weeks from whatever point they choose to do that this week so please remember that rule on furlough length if you suddenly change direction.

  62. glen cullen
    April 6, 2020

    Sebastian Kurz Chancellor of Austria reporting on twitter that his country will come out of lockdown 1st May

  63. Lynn Atkinson
    April 6, 2020

    Apparently the wealth-generating workers are ‘not key workers’, so I suggest we all relax, stay home until the ‘Key-workers’ understand where their salaries and pensions come from. At £2.4 billion a day it will take just a month or two. Then we may have a ‘once in a generation’ reassessment of who the key workers are!

    Once the Goose is acknowledged as the key worker, I agree with Starmer that she is undervalued, underpaid (because of the massive tax burden) and very much under-represented in Parliament!

    Never mind genuflection for the NHS – Corn for the Goose!

  64. BillM
    April 6, 2020

    It is presumed that each person has the virus until proven clear.
    Private testing is available in South Korea for around £80 and takes just 24 hours for the result.
    SJ, can taxpayers money be made available for British firms to utilise and have their workers privately tested for the virus? Those declared clear can then go back to work respecting the distance rules en-route.
    I wonder if this type of extra medical expense is covered in the numerous Private Health Care plans adopted by the Private Sector?

  65. John E
    April 6, 2020

    I agree. The cure cannot be allowed to be worse than the disease.

    1. John E
      April 6, 2020

      Further thought. Re-open the schools and nurseries after Easter as well. Get the teachers back to work and allow parents to return to normal working.

      1. glen cullen
        April 6, 2020

        agree this needs to happen so the work-force can return

  66. ukretired123
    April 6, 2020

    If Boris can be struck down with CV-19 it’s a sobering thought about the country’s security and vulnerabilities all round and Russia taking the opportunity to test our alertness should focus everyone’s minds on what is important for the whole country and why we play a key role in NATO for Europe regardless of their political ineptitude.

    For that reason alone we cannot be “becalmed” in limbo and need to get moving before rigormortis hits the economy and life of the nation. That or the CV19.
    Being decisive is becoming imperative and boldly needed.

  67. John E
    April 6, 2020

    It seems to me that this virus impairs thinking and judgement in those that catch it and that people in positions of leadership should not be allowed to “work through” it.

    I base this partly on my own experience. I don’t actually know for sure that I have had it because I had mild symptoms that didn’t require testing. But whatever it was stopped me thinking straight for about ten days. It’s only in hindsight that I realise how much.
    Then I look at the US Navy captain who was relieved of his command after questionable judgement in sending his e-mail. He has now tested positive.
    Here Matt Hancock having recovered seems to have bounced back better than he was before.

    Something to consider when looking at the Government disarray and complete lack of plans. It could be partly the effects of the virus on those in charge and not just the habitual incompetence.

  68. NickC
    April 6, 2020

    JR, I completely agree with you. Only snowflakes think we aren’t mortal. Otherwise no one would drive, fly, work, have children, or even climb stairs. The cv19 is simply one more of many hazards we accept.

    1. Data Please
      April 6, 2020

      The SnowFlakes can stay at home, keep out of our way and worry on our behalf about the Big Hurty World out there and the nasty Govt not cocooning them in Cotton Wool.

      Or they could volunteer to help the vulnerable that need to stay isolated.

      Big Virtue Signalling Opportunity.

      Sorry, I forgot, that would involve risk, better to stay on Twitter thinking up new things to be offended by on behalf of the vulnerable.

    2. Ed M
      April 6, 2020


      ‘JR, I completely agree with you. Only snowflakes think we aren’t mortal’

      – I agree, people shouldn’t act like snowflakes. But calling people snowflakes isn’t going to help. We need to encourage people to get back to work. This is such a core part of leadership. Look at Churchill for example.

      Which is why we also need a good strong strategy to get people back into work as soon as possible and keep this momentum going all the way through the coronavirus crisis which could go on at least 18 months until they find a vaccination. Like everything in life we need a good strategy (but you’re right we can’t wait too long here either) getting the timing right, and encouraging people.

  69. Pat
    April 6, 2020

    With reduced prosperity comes reduced tax income necessitating reduced government expenditure. It is not a given that we will still be able to find the health service we have.
    If health service is to be protected in the long term it is necessary to protect the economy on which it depends.

  70. Mike Wroe
    April 6, 2020

    People in Italy spending the last few coins of their savings, no work, an economy paralysed. We must not let this happen here. Sir John is right. Resuscitate the economy before it’s too late. Shield the 1.5 million. The retired, who don’t contribute to the economy, take care of yourself. The rest get back to work.

    1. Fred H
      April 6, 2020

      Mick W – – ‘retired who don’t contribute to the economy’.

      Childminding, rescue missions, children after school, volunteering keeps all sorts running, leisure sites open, shop workers, hospital driving trips for disabled, bank of mum and dad…….wake and smell coffeee? – – got any left or didn’t you plan for it? We did.

    2. Thomas E
      April 6, 2020

      The median age for people in intensive care in Italy is 60. In the UK the vast majority of people in hospital for COVID-19 are working age.

      I think that data is part of the reason that the conservative government changed its course on herd immunity.

      Especially as there is insufficient scientific evidence to conclude that the immune system gains long term immunity from exposure at this time.

      Many other coronavirus come back year after year…

      1. a-tracy
        April 6, 2020

        Thomas E where did you get your statistics ‘vast majority of people in hospital for Covid19 are working age?

        1. Thomas E
          April 7, 2020

          The ICNARC Report on critical care usage dated 4 April.

          1. glen cullen
            April 7, 2020

            However that report doesn’t make it clear wether they’re reporting only on ICU patients or all NHS patients?

          2. Thomas E
            April 7, 2020

            The report is for patients admitted to ITU ( i.e. ICU or critical care units) representing the most severe cases. For example, about 62% of the surveyed patients were put onto mechanical ventilation within the first 24 hours of admission.

            25% of ITU patients were 70 or older.

      2. Journo
        April 6, 2020

        “In the UK the vast majority of people in hospital for COVID-19 are working age.”
        Be that as it may, the BBC online has graphs which show the 80+ age group constitutes ” over half of the deaths” and 60-79 age group the vast majority of the rest

        1. Thomas E
          April 7, 2020

          Yes, in the context of a working health service I think it’s safe to say that people under 50 are probably only 2-3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the seasonal flu.

          If health care facilities aren’t available it’s pretty clear from early experience in Wuhan and Italy that outcomes are significantly worse irrespective of age group.

    3. Mike Wilson
      April 6, 2020

      The retired, who don’t contribute to the economy, take care of yourself.

      We spend our savings. We spend our pensions. We employ people to do jobs we can no longer do ourselves. We look after even more elderly relatives. We look after our grandchildren. No, you’re right – we don’t contribute to the economy.

    4. Martyn G
      April 6, 2020

      We don’t contribute to the economy huh? What planet do you live on – cloud cuckoo land perhaps? Aged 79, I employ a cleaner, a gardener, am a vastly experienced primary school governor, a volunteer lock keeper to help river traffic keep moving and engage as and when needed with plumbers, electricians – you name it, that is to say all those others in work who need employment for tasks that at my age I can no longer do. I do not think that I am in any way special and that many others of my generation are doing the same. In different ways to the working folk, we do contribute to the economy – not least through income tax, VAT, fuel duty and so on. Welcome to the real world of which you appear to know disregard.

  71. beresford
    April 6, 2020

    The trick is to acquire herd immunity without letting infection rates soar to the point that overwhelms the Health Service. Nobody should die through lack of a ventilator or medical attention, and no medical staff should die through shortage of equipment. Lockdown has a few weeks to run yet, until we can determine the incubation period from data gathered here and in other countries. Then we need controlled infection, perhaps through a short relaxation of the lockdown or even deliberate exposure of small groups to small doses of the virus. Controlled so there isn’t a second larger peak that overwhelms resources. Waiting for a vaccine isn’t an option, there may never be one or the virus may mutate.

  72. Mark Kennedy
    April 6, 2020

    The lock down should have happened sooner and testing on far greater scale. Until testing is universal with South Korea, Norwegian standards forget it.

    Government message ‘Any one can get it, anyone can have it – stay at home ‘ and with 4%-11% death rate” very sensible.

    As a late 50s with 8 year old son, going back to work or school will not be on the cards full stop. Forget exit strategies, you have have got do a lot better than that. I am not accepting any pressure from anyone to send my son or wife back to work or school for economic reasons period. I hope that is clear.

    If you are so hell bent on these ideas go and infect yourselves first and go back to work and see where we end up.

    The idea that people will just fall in line with this is non sense.

    The lock down should have happened sooner and testing on far greater scale. Until testing is universal with South Korea, Norwegian standards for it is the real message and the Government will be held to account until such time it meet and exceeds these standards.

  73. Lexi Dick
    April 6, 2020

    Totally agree. I’m a designer jeweller, and the Assay Offices have all shut down. This has a devastating effect on all silver and jewellery manufacturers, and allied trades like casters, platers, diamond mounters etc.. since it’s illegal to sell precious metals if they are not hallmarked. Thousands of small and medium businesses will suffer just in this sector unless things get back to normal fast.

    1. Mark B
      April 6, 2020

      Good luck, Lexi.

      Our kind host is trying to get the country back to work ASAP and I sincerely hope that others, irrespective of what party they belong to, are doing the same.

  74. Iain Gill
    April 6, 2020

    So say your partner is type 1 diabetic, instructed to stay indoors for 12 weeks and not leave the house at all, you normally work away from home living in hotels, 3 kids in the house not allowed to go to school. How exactly are you supposed to go to work when there is no mechanism for that household to get food or medicine when you are away from home? no mechanism to take one of the kids to a doc if they get ill (deliveries govt is organising are for a far smaller group of “extremely vulnerable” not “people at increased risk”).
    Then you do go to work, you catch CV bring it back you may indeed be ok, but guess what you are going to pass it on to a type 1 diabetic for whom it will be a far bigger deal (and far more complex for hospital to manage if they end up there).
    Or you let the kids go to school, they will inevitably catch it and bring it back home.
    So given that more than 25 million people in England are entitled to free flu jabs and therefore fall into the “people at increased risk” category, and many more live in the same households as them, there are going to be remarkably few people who are genuinely low risk catching CV.
    Plus your understanding of how the virus spreads is wrong, it is far more contagious, passed by touch as well as moisture droplets in the air, easing the foot off the pedal before parallel treatment/etc measures are in place is a bad idea.
    On the other hand you have a far better idea of the economy and financial side than the chancellor and his team of civil servants. Probably if you brain stormed some ideas with some senior docs you could come up with some viable options to be modelled.
    But I dont think its as simple as you think, you are making some of the same mistakes Trump makes (and at least he has some good docs in the background trying to push him in sensible directions).
    We could and should start mass production of any potential treatments or vaccines before they have been proven in trials (which could take place in parallel), but then be prepared to bin the ones that dont pass the trials and write that money off, at least then if you back multiple horses you can get the horses that win to the public faster.
    Anyways good luck.

  75. margaret
    April 6, 2020

    All these people who don’t want to obey the lock down rules wouldn’t be the same if their youngsters , health service staff, mothers and fathers were dying of Covid-19. You ought to be ashamed of your selves.

    1. DavidJ
      April 6, 2020

      There are ways to disobey those rules without putting anyone at risk. It all depends on where one lives.

    2. James Bertram
      April 6, 2020

      Margaret, I personally know of no-one with coronavirus. I know two freind/relation who have had their chemotherapy postponed. Cancer is the biggest killer in this country, not this virus. A sense of perspective and a proportionate response is needed. See this link:

      1. margaret
        April 6, 2020

        Cancer although a terrible disease and one which scares me is not a public health communicable disease. The distinction is one between public responsibility and individual fortune.

    3. glen cullen
      April 6, 2020

      I haven’t seen nor evidenced anyone breaking the new regulations (and the regulations do not state a 2m distance rule) I’ve seen over keen police officers that don’t understand the laws they’re trying to enforce

    4. Brit
      April 6, 2020

      I don’t obey the lockdown rules whatsoever. It happens that my behaviour coincides with isolation and goes even further than government laws and rules.
      Should I wish to change my behaviour is my business alone. I am British. I insist and do not require any others permission slip.

    5. MG
      April 6, 2020

      Margaret. Is it the case that your personal finances are sound and you are personally not unduly worried about the financial implications?

      1. margaret
        April 6, 2020

        Priorities. My coffin won’t have a credit card in it.

    6. glen cullen
      April 6, 2020

      Just so people understand that the 2m social distancing rules are a guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and is NOT part of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, so therefore not enforceable by the police

    7. Martin in Cardiff
      April 6, 2020

      I think so too.

      It’s interesting, among the commenters here, which ones they are, isn’t it Margaret?

      1. Anonymous
        April 6, 2020

        Economic depressions cause deaths. Lots of deaths.

        Of course, you know that already.

    8. NickC
      April 6, 2020

      Margaret, “Shame” doesn’t come into it. The lockdown is a temporary, and crude, tool to reduce (not stop!) the spread of the Cv19 disease. The lockdown is not an end in itself. If we can achieve a similar effect without heavily damaging the economy, we should.

    9. Anonymous
      April 6, 2020

      Well my youngsters definitely face decades of poverty and ill health and I doubt my mother will make the first cold winter because of the coming economic depression.

      The crime rate is going to be truly murderous.

      So don’t you DARE tell me to be ashamed of myself !

      How do you think the NHS is going to survive if there is no-one able to pay for it ???

      Your comment is truly offensive.

    10. Caterpillar
      April 6, 2020

      I think this captures a real issue. As an individual I think of those I value family, friends etc., but I do not expect the Govt to think like this. I expect the Govt to calculate as well, thinking of those from whom resources have been redirected, thinking of the economic impact, thinking of the future consequences of the supply side shock etc. I expect solid cold calculations and I expect transparency – I want other lives not just the visible lives to be considered.

    11. John Ramsay
      April 6, 2020

      Margaret, we need to look at some deaths from the virus versus economic problems and mass bancruptcy, we cant shut down forever. Got to a balance and trade off somewhere. Sweden has no lcokdow and sensible distancing measures and have lower infection and eath rates than UK, also South Korea, Hong Kong are still working, while wearing masks, shielding vulnerable and testing and tracking cases. We need to watch Uk doesnt end up like Venezuela, not a cat or dog left on the streets..

    12. Roy Grainger
      April 6, 2020

      A lot of them ARE youngsters Margaret.

      1. margaret
        April 6, 2020

        I know , that is why I made that comment. Some think it is Ok if the frail and elderly die ,, as long as it is not them .
        Two weeks is not for ever BTW.
        The government have promised moneys to bridge available in June.
        There are ways of continuing business and isolating
        I am back to work tomorrow to cover without routine work but am still coughing with the after effects of Covid 19 BUT, I will be in a room by myself and on the phone.

    13. Mike Wroe
      April 6, 2020

      I’m obeying lock down rules. More people will die if we trash the economy. The less well off will become poor, the poor will become desperately poor. More suicides, social unrest, crime. Over time more people will die from the consequences of our action to contain the virus than the virus itself. Otherwise, do we maintain lockdown indefinitely?

      1. Anonymous
        April 6, 2020


        It’s like bashing against brick walls, isn’t it.

    14. Mark B
      April 6, 2020

      I want to see some common sense. If I am driving alone in my car, standing alone in an empty park or green space, how is that affecting anyone ?

      Alternatively. I could be holled up in somenew build rabbit hutch next to other people spreading my germs via the aircon !

    15. Original Chris
      April 6, 2020

      There is the law, Margaret, and there is Guidance. The latter is not legally enforceable, and it is in this area that the police seem to have overstepped the mark and have had to retract.

      For information about the restrictions (which do not stipulate the number of times you can exercise per day, nor do they say you cannot go out in the car to take the dog for a walk in a green space) go to Regulation 6 of the relevant Statutory Instrument:
      (The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 350 Regulation 6

      1. glen cullen
        April 6, 2020

        correct in all respects

      2. margaret
        April 6, 2020

        An instruction enforced by police action is neither law nor guidance, but openly flout it and you will pay a fine.

        1. glen cullen
          April 7, 2020

          Wrong – It must be a lawful instruction

  76. DavidJ
    April 6, 2020

    Should I respect total lockdown and go stare-crazy in the room or go for a walk in sparsely populated places? One size fits all never works and some flexibility is needed. Obviously I know what my choice is and it does not put anyone else at risk even if I were infected.

  77. Max
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John,

    the data points although limited suggest that the infection rates and forecast deaths will be less than was predicted :
    Iceland experience – 50% no symptoms
    Diamond Princess – 50% infection rate in closed environment, only 17% having demonstrable symptoms
    Italy -miss reporting deaths, aging populations, 75% of deaths having two or more underlying morbid conditions

    With NHS now bringing on much more ICU capacity and the strategy is to develop herd immunity it’s time for those of us likely to survive to get back to work, (I’m 62 reasonable fit and healthy) develop better methods to protect those at risk (continued self imposed lock down for example), encourage wearing of masks etc.

    That way we ramp up immunity and get the economy going again vital for those with limited savings, self employed, with mortgages – those hard working people who voted for Boris in 2019.

  78. Ed M
    April 6, 2020

    @Sir John,

    Something I think the gov need to look at now also is food production.

    Of course, we don’t want government getting involved in farm produce, but in this case, we need to ensure there are the right incentives in place to get people (students / early retired / people in between jobs / recently made-redundant etc) brought up in this country, to work in the fields over the summer if need be.

    An important part of getting people to feel confident and hopeful for the sake of the economy is that the supermarkets and shops are packed with food – above all, fresh fruit, veg, meat, eggs and so on.

  79. ed2
    April 6, 2020

    They are herding us onto a communist system and the MSM wants this. You can observe the agenda from the propaganda we are fed. Now The Sun are telling me on news alerts how to get Universal Credit. I have £30 left in the world unless I sell something. I lost my job, but managed to stay off any kind of govt welfare and I don’t want to start now. I really do not want anything to do with you.

  80. Jiminyjim
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John, I believe that the government faces a dilemma and I hope that they are considering how to address it. The evidence points to the fact that the world is not on the same trajectory. India and Africa (which have the potential for a far worse outcome because of slums, overcrowding etc) may be on a very steep upwards trajectory, just as things are abating in the UK and the west. This means that either our social distancing will have to continue for much longer, or something will have to be done to restrict the citizens of other badly affected countries from travelling to UK for a while. So far we have shown either an inability or an unwillingness to do that. If we lift restrictions without addressing the issue of international travel, we will get a second, potentially far worse dose.
    The question is, does our government have the appetite to control immigration over this period, or will it listen to the siren voices like Martin in C, who seem to think that such immigration poses no threat to us at all?

  81. Christine
    April 6, 2020

    I couldn’t agree more with you, Sir John. The current situation is untenable and is certainly not helping social cohesion while public sector workers are financially secure but the self-employed are thrown to the wolves. I appreciate that you have lobbied the Chancellor about this. The perception is, however, that when the Treasury needs to re-fill its coffers, they will be coming after the self-employed because they are easy meat. Not good, not good at all.

    As far the virus is concerned, I search in vain for hard, reliable data about infection and death rates, particularly mortality ‘from’ the virus rather than ‘with’ the virus. Undertakers are not reporting anything other than normal levels of work, plenty of health trusts have a sufficiency of ventilators, staff and ICU beds but still the MSM propagates articles and headlines that are seemingly designed to alarm the populace. It really is most unhelpful.

    A little less emotion around the NHS would also be most welcome. As a previous contributor has written, it is ‘the’ NHS, not ‘our’ NHS.

  82. Norman
    April 6, 2020

    I agree entirely, Sir John, and with many of the above comments.
    Also, it is now vital to get PPE into Nursing and Care Homes, and to ensure that food and medicines are getting to all those who are rightly and properly self-isolating. This is crucial, as we adapt to a fast moving situation. Were we to be testing more widely, I believe we should find the virus has already penetrated the general population quite widely. The lock-down has slowed it somewhat, which is what it was designed to do, but could be counterproductive if continued too long.

  83. Ian @Barkham
    April 6, 2020

    While I agree with the premise that without a strong economy we cannot and will not be in a position to advance and keep paying down the increasing and needless debt successive governments keep burdening the UK taxpayer with.

    I would guess not intentionally, but you appear to want to go back lets solve the virus spread with ‘herd immunity’ and treat a high death rate as just one of those things.

    Although only 2 weeks into a 3 week lockdown everything suggests some didn’t agree with it so ignored it. In probability it is those same people that are the carriers of the virus and are at the root of its distribution.

    Without everyone participating it could never work. So in fact a waste of time was had by all. The taxpayer pays so who cares.

    The lockdown would have worked if there was a will from everyone to play their part. However our new modern society requires that people be given things and not have to contribute or earn them.

    April 6, 2020

    I just hope that at the next GE those who are employed outside the public sector recognise that it was the Tory party in governmehnt that sacrificed them and their livelihoods on the altar of protecting Marxist Labour’s unionised client state and all the power and privileges that come with abusing the private sector taxpayer on almost continual basis

    You have embraced the entire panoply of Labour’s political ideas from identity politics, gender ideology,religion, large state, crushing freedom of expression, mass immigration, cultural vandalism, undermining the private sector and then refusing to dismantle Labour’s political web including the BBC, CPS, Police etc etc, all now under the control of a political ideology that is simply un-British

    I cannot believe that any Tory MP can sit when alone and not admit to themselves they have trashed everything they believe in. For what?

    It would be hilarious if it wasn’t tragic and heartbreaking

  85. Ed Hirst
    April 6, 2020

    Thank goodness for this ray of hope from Sir John, much needed after the Health Minister’s threats yesterday to deprive us all completely of any fresh air and exercise. We all need something to look forward to and plan for, not just the prospect of more coercion extending indefinitely into the future.
    Incidentally it is not just NHS frontline personnel who deserve accolades for their sterling work, I feel that retail staff have been the backbone of the country in this crisis, and most of them deserve a medal!

  86. glen cullen
    April 6, 2020

    Our exit strategy is conditional upon the review to be undertaken by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the 16th April…..I am very worried

  87. Ed M
    April 6, 2020

    Also, big problem with UK (and other countries) is that our mortality rate is relatively high: 1 in 10 dying in UK from this disease. Where as in Germany it’s about 7.5 times lower than that. That’s a significant difference, and we’ve been in this a while now for stats to pan out.

    Mortality rate of 1 in 10 is way to high. We’ve got to get this down otherwise people will be scared to go out and pass on this virus to the old and vulnerable in their families. It’s not just a moral issue (whatever people think about that) but also one of practical necessity – the necessity being that you cannot run an economy on people being scared (whether they are snowflakes or not is neither here nor there – the reality is that you have to deal with this fear).

    1. Ed M
      April 6, 2020

      So we’ve absolutely got to sort out, as priority, and spend whatever is needed on testing, ventilators, PPE and intensive care beds (could save the economy sinking so well worth spending here).

      Meanwhile really focus hard also on making the old and vulnerable super safe and introducing much more effective social distancing using cheap technology and apps and rules like in China where they are working far more than us.

      But people here on this website are 100% right as well. The country has got to get back to work en masse, SOON.

      Therefore, the government has a HUGE task ahead it of it, especially in the next few weeks, but also in the medium-term, and I’m afraid longer, still, until we get a vaccination / effective treatment for this disease.

    2. Thomas E
      April 7, 2020

      We don’t have a mortality rate of 10%. We’re only testing people who are admitted to hospital… Germany is doing widespread testing.

      1. Ed M
        April 7, 2020

        Thanks for the correction – I got this point wrong.

      2. Fred H
        April 7, 2020

        from family ‘doing’ it -some are testing GPs and surgery staff. At last it is catching on. The NHS big-wigs have no idea how to organise Labs to do it – – it has taken weeks if not months to wake up to the amazing ability these Labs have.

  88. Yossarion
    April 6, 2020

    Not relevant I know but with a Man of your influence I find it strange watching People in Parks Cris Crossing, would it not be a good idea to make the walkways one way?

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      April 6, 2020

      Other countries have done that.

      So maybe this country never will now?

  89. Stephen Glasse
    April 6, 2020

    Totally agree with this post by Mr Redwood. The economic, marital, psychological and physical consequences of lockdown are worse than the virus….

  90. Al
    April 6, 2020

    “The rest of us should be free to go back to workplaces whilst continuing with strong hygiene measures and whilst keeping a sensible distance from others where possible. ” – JR

    While I agree, the big problem is travel.

    I found some capacity figures from TFL and compared them to employment figures from the NHS, specifically NHS London. Then I allowed for a proportion of NHS workers using alternative transport, and excluded health workers outside the main NHS (e.g. GPs, dentists, carers) to make sure I was being very conservative.

    It seems that the current reduced capacity of TFL is barely enough for the NHS keyworkers at peak times, let alone any others. Off-peak, for example for nurses on the night shift, it drops below.

    This doesn’t allow for any other keyworkers, and I’ve been very conservative in my figures. I suspect that this is what is causing the tube crowding, but instead of acknowledging that Khan got the figures wrong, we keep being told it is people breaking lockdown. A survey at the entrance or exit of a tube would be most enlightening.

    1. Stred
      April 7, 2020

      The tube driver is the only person on the train in a safe place. Bus drivers are very exposed. The conditions on the crowded central and other lines are a disgrace and far more of a problem than people in parks not keeping far enough apart. Khan should be removed before he does any more damage.

  91. John McDonald
    April 6, 2020

    Dear Sir John,
    I am not sure were you are getting your information about the NHS state of readiness from. Is it from Management or direct from the front line troops themselves?
    The get everybody back to work at any cost is a very high risk approach indeed.
    You are right to make us all aware of the economic damage being caused. But no fun in the second world war either. We have only been fighting the virus for less than a full month.
    The focus on the economy at all costs delayed early action and got us into this mess in the first place.
    What would have been the cost to ban passenger flights and holidays on ships and none essential travel outside the UK around the beginning of February? Now we have to shut almost every business down. But I guess the Airline voice was bigger than the local plumber’s.
    We need to get industry running first, focused on making things for ourselves not serving coffee. I do not include by this the very important service industry that supplies us with food, medicine, Communications, transport and the essentials of life.
    Once this is fixed we can have a coffee and go to the pub or restaurant and spend the money we earned making something or providing an essential service.
    PS. the virus does not affect them oldies only, and has killed off some very young people. UK death toll just under 5,000. Flu death toll 2019 – 732 (from a Link) I have to say I was surprised it was this low.

  92. L Jones
    April 6, 2020

    This is absolutely spot on. People who are ”vulnerable” should continue to self-isolate for a pre-determined period, and everyone else should go about their normal business. It’s obviously the way to go. I’m one of those ”vulnerable” ones and I would willingly accept further isolation.
    At the moment many of us feel we are suffering the ‘mushroom’ syndrome. Kept in the dark…. etc.

  93. Roy Grainger
    April 6, 2020

    I agree with that John. However as far as I can see every single person taking the decisions – the experts, the politicians, – have guaranteed jobs and won’t see any drop in their income at all, so they have a reduced incentive to lift the lockdown, the economic pain is only being borne by the private sector and they have no say in the matter at all.

  94. forthurst
    April 6, 2020

    What JR proposes is herd immunity achieved as slowly as possible such that the vulnerable can stay cooped up indefinitely. Apart from the psychological pressures, it should be remembered that ultraviolet radiation is most people’s primary source of vitamin d. As to home deliveries for all, that would take quite a long time to arrange as the capacity is nowhere near available. Anyone who has watched stock pickers at work will have noticed that firstly they have special collection trolleys and second they move extremely slowly because unlike regular shoppers they can’t make a beeline for their favourite items.

    The only viable resolution to this impasse created by the government who lost their window of opportunity when the cases were low by failing to block the introduction of new cases from abroad and introducing a tracing programme, is one in which the transmission rate is reduced from well above one to substantially less than one. This can only be achieved by stopping people moving about the country unless they are delivery men and introducing a massive testing, tracing and quarantining programme.

  95. zorro
    April 6, 2020

    How long will it be before we have an official two minute hate directed against COVID 19?


  96. ian terry
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John

    The Government is between the rock and a hard place and very difficult decisions are going to have to be made. It is imperative that the work force starts back albeit on a phased programme of selected professions and trades. The longer it takes to implement the rolling start more of the poulation will be facing the leeming leap as they fail to keep pace with mounting debts and commitments.

    The Government must take the lead and start by clawing back every available pound from every sector of where the costs of operation or installation are impacting on the critical mass of the country. Stop Foreign Aid, HS2, Constraint/Subsidy Payments on Renewables repeal the Climate change Act and every other similar law that stops the government from accelerating out of the situation we find ourselves in providing cheaper energy and running costs to domestic, commercial and industrial markets.

    1. Mark B
      April 6, 2020


      We have covered all this before. The government does not do common sense so there will be no change in policy.

      1. glen cullen
        April 6, 2020


      2. ian terry
        April 6, 2020

        Mark B

        One can only live in hope. Today Octopus the energy company are giving away fre electricity during the present crisis. It is of course not free thanks to all the subsidies they are given by all us bill payers. It is totally unsustainable long term.

      3. ian terry
        April 6, 2020


        Or in other words how the #### is it going to be paid for?
        They need to be imaginative if they don’t want trouble when the tax increases are applied, because that will be like open season for Starmer

    2. Original Chris
      April 6, 2020

      Ian Terry, as long as we have a PM who subscribes to the globalist agenda we will not have the much needed change that we need in those areas you mention (foreign aid, HS2, Climate Change Act). In my view, Boris has not learnt the wisdom of the phrase “economic security” equals national security, which is the basis of the P Trump doctrine.

      Excellent article on this on The Conservative Tree House website entitled
      ‘Peter Navarro: “Economic Security is National Security” – China Challenges and U.S. Workforce Initiatives…’ (Introduction copied below).

      “Hammer it home Pete, keep hammering it home. “U.S. Economic Security is U.S. National Security”; and by extension global security. Those words were first spoken by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to an international audience at Davos in 2017.
      In the almost two years since first proclaimed, President Trump and the economic team have been executing economic policy to hit on this key message. Trade deals, internal regulatory policy, tax policy, monetary policy, education policy and modern workforce initiatives are all inherently tied together to ensure U.S. National Security.

      In the big picture President Trump is earnestly focused on rebuilding the American middle-class because the blue-collar and white-collar middle-class jobs are the heart of the American economic security. All of these policies are connected to the middle class because it is the middle class that strengthens America….”

  97. clive
    April 6, 2020

    I fear the end game will only come after like sheep we follow other European Countries . With regret , I also fear it will come to late for the economy , which needs to be back into gear asap.
    So many will be affected , so much will be lost , the cost to the Country will be enormous both in jobs and health and lives . We used to lead , now we follow . This house arrest should be bought to close , now .
    HS2 should be scrapped , as this C 19 issue will prove working from home can be done , will be done, so no need to travel as much . A White Elephant and an embarrassment.

  98. Robert Henderson
    April 6, 2020

    Scientists often disagree and like academics generally are more than happy to fight battles which have little to do with science and everything to do with ego and professional jealousies. This makes a nonsense of the increasingly pathetic bleat of Johnson and co that “We are acting on the best scientific and medical advice “.
    The upshot of this ploy is politicians not choosing the “best and medical and scientific advice ” but the advice which best suits their political narrative and covers their political backs.
    Moreover, politicians cannot be said to be following the best scientific and medical advice through choice because they are not qualified to choose between competing professional medical and scientific advice .

  99. Arabella
    April 6, 2020

    As retired I certainly do support the economy by paying 4 figure income tax.

    1. ian terry
      April 6, 2020

      Mark B

      One can only live in hope. Today Octopus the energy company are giving away fre electricity during the present crisis. It is of course not free thanks to all the subsidies they are given by all us bill payers. It is totally unsustainable long term. ⁰

  100. mancunius
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John – what you say is bang on. What we have at the moment is a form of work aversion therapy, a form of demotivation sponsored by the government. Those who are ‘furloughed’ refuse to work, claiming that they are not allowed to, so organizations have no chance to keep barely going. The bankruptcies triggered by this will cause permanent mass unemployment, but as the country has not experienced this for decades, younger people still think all their birthdays have come at once – they can spend the day on their MBXs or slouching around on the sward, and they still get ‘paid’ – and they haven’t worked out yet that that money is going to come out of their pockets.
    You must carry on shouting about this.

  101. acorn
    April 6, 2020

    If you have read the comments of our new Bank of England Governor today, you should worry. Either this guy has no idea how a sovereign fiat currency system works; or, he has been programmed to parrot the neoliberal lie, like all his predecessors.

    BTW. As I am working on it at the moment and you have nothing else to do have a look at the following. You will see how politicians doing favours for their mates and sponsors have made a complete horlicks of the tax system over the last four decades.

  102. steve
    April 6, 2020


    “Unemployment will shoot up to record levels, many businesses will go bankrupt or go through major financial reconstructions, state spending and debt will leap up, and there will be a major reduction in the standard of living and disposable incomes of many people previously or still working in the private sector”

    JR, these things CAN be overcome, we just need to get back to work, and have strong, honest leadership.

    The choice will be simple when this is over. Either we kow tow to the likes of Macron and the EU, or we roll our sleeves up and get on with it. We MUST put this country first when this crisis is over.

    The next time I hear of Macron making threats to my country I expect my government to reciprocate with action.

    I find the fact that France can threaten this country with impunity not only repugnant but also highly embarrassing.

    Where’s the lion’s teeth ?

    Give us reason to be patriotic, we sure as hell need a boost at a time like this.

    1. Ed M
      April 6, 2020


      ‘Either we kow tow to the likes of Macron and the EU’

      – This is far more serious than whether we’re in the EU or not. If we don’t get this right, our country is in serious, serious trouble.

      Germany is in the EU and they have mortality rate of 1.5 out of 1oo. Whilst ours is 10 out of 100. 7.5 times worse.

      Let’s focus on the coronavirus – that it doesn’t wreck our economy. And then focus on the EU. Not the other way around, otherwise the question about the EU and other things could end up sinking an already sinking ship. Let’s keep the ship afloat and then once sailing again, worry about EU (Brexiters won fair and square), HS2, Green Issues, Corbyn (well he’s gone), and so on.

      There is or should be no other story in town right now except to nail this corona thing before it nails us.

  103. Stephen Robertshaw
    April 6, 2020

    The government needs soon to make the brave decision you recommend here. The idea of only allowing those who are tested for anti bodies to work means we would never get the economy back on track. The number of Covid 19 caused deaths is tragic but not sufficient to completely trash the economy. The total number of UK deaths for the first quarter of 2020 are lower than last year.

  104. kzb
    April 6, 2020

    A return to “normal” for the under 70’s will cause a huge peak in CV cases and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths.
    There has to be a new normal. People should drive to work not take public transport. Masks must be worn at work and in public spaces. 2 metres social distancing must be maintained.
    If I go back to work, and this case number peak happens, as an over-50 will I get a place in the ICU? Or will I be low priority and be left to die at home like the old people in the care homes ?

    1. Iain Moore
      April 6, 2020

      Not sure if you should want a spot in an ICU, it seems the survival rate is quite low with people on a ventilator suffering from Coronavirus. With viral load being a significant factor , I am not sure its wise to go anywhere near a hospital , and these Nightingale hospitals a virus hotspot.

    2. Ed M
      April 6, 2020

      The country MUST go back to work (not yet but soonish) but at same time and just as importantly the gov MUST put into place directives about how to get people back to work as safely as possibly, using the kind of directives used in China – cheap technology and apps, strict procedures and so on (2 metres is really important but far more needs to be done and can be done – again, look at China). A bit robotic but it works – enough to get lots of people back to work.

      And you’re right, this is not flue – its degrees worse – although not bad enough either to hold up the country – and it can be A LOT less of a problem if we do things right (Germany has mortality rate of 1.5 per 100, ours is 10 out of 100 (i think) – that is unacceptable – we’ve got to get down to German levels and below).

      1. Original Chris
        April 6, 2020

        Ed M, you state that it is degrees worse than flu. Not according to the government’s own website which on March 19th reclassified COVID-19 by taking it OFF the High Consequence Infectious Disease list, because of its overall low death rate (among other factors), effectively putting it on a par with seasonal flu.
        Status of COVID-19

        “As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.

        The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID. This was based on consideration of the UK HCID criteria about the virus and the disease with information available during the early stages of the outbreak.

        Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about MORTALITY RATES (LOW OVERALL), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.

        The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) is also of the opinion that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as an HCID”.

        1. glen cullen
          April 7, 2020

          I’ve just realised why we have a shortage of frontline doctors…..because they’re all on committees, boards, doing research or private work or on TV

          1. Fred H
            April 7, 2020

            you know what they say….those who ‘can’t ‘ teach, those that can ‘do’!

        2. Not Bob
          April 7, 2020

          That alleged American expert is writing in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26th that they now think the death rate is IDENTICAL to flu, 0.1% . Quite remarkable as coronavirus appears in a novel form each year and makes up 15% of the seasonal flu virus. Now go check the charts for seasonal flu and you will see it drops off a cliff as soon as this alleged pandemic starts.

          Like I say, future generations will call it the Common Cold Communist Coup.

        3. Ed M
          April 8, 2020

          I’m happy to be corrected on this one and will look into your point further although I accept what you’re saying at this point.

          But if I am wrong (not forgetting I am REALLY keen for the country to get back to normal ASAP – for the sake of the economy), then millions of other people are all wrong and so something needs to be done to communicate the reality which you write about here.

          Without flattering people, one of the reasons I like this website, is that people present facts as opposed to emotional hype. I, no doubt, have been a sucker, to a degree, to the emotional hype going on all around – not just from the media but also from a general fear that people have of catching this virus and passing it on to older family members etc ..

          1. Not Bob
            April 9, 2020


            “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

          2. Not Bob
            April 9, 2020

            Remember we had the scandel recently with the OPCW? Well all these countries around the world reporting covid-19 cases have to send specimens to WHO approved public labs. So if this was a Live Excercise, for example, and they were kept out of the loop, they would just be reporting statistic based on WHO say so. Why are the public labs of the few countries allowed to test doing all they can to stop the private labs getting specimens? Furthermore, why is the advice given to medics to classify covid-19 victims just as the bases of suspicion, I have seen the advice given to US medics and it is almost telling them to suspect everyone has died from it.

    3. Anonymous
      April 6, 2020

      I am already out in it – working as a key worker and as a volunteer shopper for isolated pensioners.

      It should be on a voluntary basis.

    4. Life erupts
      April 6, 2020

      “A return to “normal” for the under 70’s will cause a huge peak in CV cases and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths.” Do calm down dear.

      It’s more likely to result in a gush of unplanned pregnancies as people get it together again, with it hitting the Curve 9 months later and swamping our NHS system as 9 months after Christmas does each year.

  105. 5f
    April 6, 2020

    I have still yet to know anyone in the real world who knows anyone who has had it, but politicians and celebs are dropping like flies.

  106. Not Bob
    April 6, 2020

    On October 18,2019 a Pandemic Exercise called Event 201 was hosted in New York by the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The exercise detailed:What would happen if a Pandemic of a deadly infectiousCorona Viruswere to spread across the world and cause mass chaos and cause damage to markets world wide? The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.From <
    The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201.
    The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World…
    The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201.

  107. Original Chris
    April 6, 2020

    I see that it is reported that Boris Johnson has now been moved into intensive care.

    I sincerely hope that they treat him with known efficacious drugs, viz. hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which have been demonstrated to behighly effective against the virus, and which have had emergency authorisation in the USA, among other countries. One doctor has described the “Lazarus effect” after using said drugs.

    This is no time for medicos to be PC. If they want to save the PM, then all the stops have to be pulled out. They must not deny Boris Johnson the use of these drugs.

    1. Stred
      April 7, 2020

      The surgeon in the BBC news report last night said that it was among the treatments. Professionals doing the work may not take too much notice of doctors in the civil service, hopefully.

  108. Anonymous
    April 6, 2020

    I am worried sick about Boris.

  109. Richard
    April 6, 2020

    Sir John, This is a very sensible article advocating a return to the herd immunity strategy, given the very different Covid risk profiles of elderly & high risk groups compared to the rest of us.

    Regrettably, there does seem to be a big problem with misleading data, both
    a) in the UK & Europe:
    b) in the USA:

  110. Martin C
    April 6, 2020

    Last summer, when I was 67, I was diagnosed with hypertension. I decided to follow the advice of Dr Eric Berg on YouTube and took high doses of Vitamin D3 (10,000 IUs) and K2 (100mcg) three times a day. My blood pressure dropped 50 points in three weeks.

    I have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, and decided to continue with the above as it is said to decalcify the soft tissues in the body, including the heart, and calcium can conduct electricity in an aqueous solution so it seemed reasonable that this may be the cause of my fibrillation.

    By the autumn I was also taking Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Then, on 4th December I became ill with what I thought was flu and was confined to bed for two days. I have never had a flu vaccination. At 5pm on the second day I felt better, but was left with a cough from deep in my lungs which brought up small amounts of phlegm.

    In mid December my ex-brother-in-law came down with flu, hot and cold, which was quickly followed by pneumonia. He told me he was very scared. Several courses of antibiotics failed to make any impact, so he decided not to have any more and, thankfully, slowly got better.

    We are both now convinced that we had had CoVid19, but until there is an antibody test, we won’t know.

    Why is there no advice on (or in) the media as to how to fortify your immune system with supplements which appear to mitigate CoVid19’s symptoms?

    Then again, why do doctors always seem to prescribe Gaviscon for heart burn, when the elderly are particularly susceptible to hypochlorhydria as they age? They have too little hydrochloric acid, so the valve at the top of the stomach opens and they get heart burn or cholic. With too little acid, they cannot properly digest their minerals and micronutrients leading to deficiencies and an impaired immune system.

    I recently suggested to a retired consultant that doctors should be required to report all cases of pneumonia brought to their attention in 2019, especially marking those preceded by the flu. There may be much more immunity in the population than is supposed.

    1. Stred
      April 7, 2020

      I had the same symptoms the years before. The flu left my lungs under functioning. The following year I had the bacterial pneumonia and flu jabs and I was clear this year. I take vitamins but they didn’t ward off the flu. This covid virus is much worse and, with no vaccine, oldies with knackered lungs will have to isolate for ages.

    2. Martin C
      April 7, 2020

      I understand the Corona Virus uses the vitamin D3 receptor on cells to gain access. If correct, it would help to explain the seasonal variation in flu infections.

      It’s not about taking vitamins and minerals per se, but rather what is specifically required and at the right strength.

  111. Yorkie
    April 6, 2020

    Deaths in Yorkshire ( and it better include Hull and Humberside) is 254
    Population about the same as Scotland 5,500,000 deaths 218
    Mostly aged 80+

    Death is always serious. I hate to say it but we’re used it.
    It would be nice if we had some jobs. We had jobs three months ago but Westminster lost it.

    1. Yorkie
      April 6, 2020

      to ( we speak fast)

    2. glen cullen
      April 7, 2020


  112. Iain Gill
    April 6, 2020

    Listen to what Fauci says in Trumps briefings, Fauci is closest to explaining what the exit strategy needs to be.

  113. Lindsay McDougall
    April 7, 2020

    Right on. And let’s get the children back to school. As a 73 year old dialysis patient, I am at some risk from my son working (reduced hours) and my wife shopping as often as before. Getting my grandson back to school will slightly increase the risk but I don’t think that I am entitled to have the economy wrecked for my narrow self interest.

    I shall probably keep myself in isolation for a few more weeks but at some point I will review the rate of new virus cases and the death rate and MAKE MY OWN DECISION.

  114. Martin C
    April 7, 2020

    I’m currently looking after a 92 year old who lives 8 miles away. Yesterday my car’s computer indicated that there was a problem with the engine that needed attending to. Currently all the garages are shut. If my car breaks down, the 92 year old (who doesn’t have a computer, can’t drive and lives on her own) will lose her carer.

    Essential workers need their transport . . .

    1. Fred H
      April 7, 2020

      Might be lack of oil, a service needed, do you have any car knowledge? Call a breakdown service, they may well visit and diagnose whats up for free ( explain you are a carer) . Failing that they may fix and bill you.

  115. Shaun Underhill
    April 7, 2020

    Thank you Sir John; how refreshing it is to hear some common sense and balance being aired by a politician with regards to the current crisis.
    This country is grinding slowly ever deeper into an uncertain future – even hospices are now fearful for their future; unbelievable. And how people living in less comfortable surroundings are coping with social isolation and restriction of movement doesn’t bear thinking about.
    The cabinet perhaps need reminding that compliance with these regulations is by no means an unconditional choice with the public and if imposed for too long will become increasingly flouted and ignored. Please keep up the good work and continue to make your voice heard where it matters.

  116. Fred H
    April 7, 2020

    If no part of Government is coordinating the components or triggers that would enable a balanced return to work, schooling, virus stats, travel etc – -then we elected the wrong lot.

  117. Iain Gill
    April 7, 2020

    So Anthony Fauci tonight says he cannot absolutely predict, but his optimistic side says schools will be open again in the Fall (Autumn to us) BUT will not be back to way it was before, must have identify, test, trace etc measures in place. UK would be mad to do anything different.

    As before strongly recommend our leaders start listening to what Anthony Fauci says, and filter out the words either side from Trump.

    Pressure to let kids back after Easter are madness.

  118. Warwick
    April 8, 2020

    Absolutely agree Sir John, but am astounded your colleagues do not.

    As a businessman, I’m sure you would appreciate the thought, structure and rigor that goes into responded to these events. The immediate response, the short term solutions and the outcome planning. None of this is left until it is required. These streams are run in parallel with clearly defined trigger points.

    The Government, as the executive of 65 million people, should be better prepared and structured in it’s response. The strategy should be clear. The triggers should be clear. This is fundamental emergency response and should be foremost in the Governments plan’s.

    Added to the strategy, should be the various impact streams. We see only one, the NHS. Where is the consideration to the rest of the population? Business/work, Children/parents, mental health.

    I really do feel the Government are failing us in a time we most need their leadership.

  119. Robert Henderson
    April 11, 2020

    THe government is hiding behind the mantra “We are acting on the beswt scientific and medical advice” This is a nonsense

    Scientists often disagree and like academics generally are more than happy to fight battles which have little to do with science and everything to do with ego and professional jealousies. This makes a nonsense of the increasingly pathetic bleat of Johnson and co that “We are acting on the best scientific and medical advice “. The upshot is politicians not choosing the “best and medical and scientific advice ” but the advice which best suits their political narrative and covers their political backs. Moreover, politicians cannot be said to be following the best scientific and medical advice through choice because they are not qualified to choose between competing professional medical and scientific advice .

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