Britain’s Coronavirus Lockdown Is Six Months Old Today, and May Last for Six More

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10 Downing Street as he heads to the House of Commons for the weekly PMQ session, on September 23, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK into lockdown six months ago today. Yet despite assurances that the draconian measure was to “flatten the curve” and give the government breathing room to react, freedoms in the UK remain severely restricted and may yet be further impinged upon.

The national lockdown — in which large swathes of the population were told they must stay in their homes and some businesses were required to close completely — began on March 23rd, six months ago. While the exact nature of the lockdown had changed in time — it is now legal to sleep with someone you don’t live with, for instance, and some businesses are being encouraged to reopen — the UK remains under the government’s corona rule-by-decree rules, with fines and even imprisonment for simple transgressions like socialising improperly or being caught without a mask in some public places.

While the lockdown is now six months old, there is every indication it will last for months more, and may yet get worse again. Just this week, the government ordered hospitality like bars and pubs to close early and cut the number of guests allowed at a wedding from 30 to 15. In an apparent bid to encourage compliance with the constantly changing rules, a government spokesman said today that insufficient adherence could lead to a second full lockdown being implemented.

When launching the new measures this week, the prime minister said the new coronavirus restrictions could last “for perhaps six months”, meaning the UK coronavirus lockdown could very well be celebrating its first birthday in March 2021. Six months ago, Mr Johnson had promised the nation the government was hoping to “turn the tide of this disease” within 12 weeks.

Despite the scope of the lockdown being well beyond what the majority of Britons believed they were being led into — with an ONS study finding 52 per cent believed everything would be back to normal by now — acceptance of the lockdown and even being ready for more pervades. The number of people who now believe life will return to normal within six months has crashed to less than 15 per cent, while those who think it will take more than a year has steadily risen to 37 per cent.

Indeed, a YouGov poll reported by LBC Radio found that 78 per cent said they supported the latest coronavirus lockdown measures, with 45 per cent saying they didn’t go far enough, leaving the door open for the government to further crack down on freedoms without any serious opposition.

Hinting that he anticipated a tough winter to come, the prime minister said in an address to the nation on Tuesday night: “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour. If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together. There are unquestionably difficult months to come.

“And the fight against Covid is by no means over.”

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