By Ben Kerrigan-
The British government cannot guarantee that the current coronavirus lockdown in England will be the last, a minister has told Sky News.
Foreign Office Minister, James Cleverly,(pictured) indicated that viruses will determine whether this will be the last lockdown in the UK, adding that it was impossible to give people “100% certainty” because “viruses don’t work like that”. Cleverly was indirectly stating that the behaviour of the virus over time will determine whether this is the last lockdown in the UK.
Infections in the UK are said to be falling dramatically, and the vaccine roll out has raised optimism that the British public may not be too far from seeing the end of their freedom being restricted for so long.
However, Mr Cleverly’s statement which is consistent with that of prime minister Boris Johnson’s to a press conference on Monday, suggested that even with so many people vaccinated and its positive impact so far, lockdowns could become the new normal.
Hospitalisations in the UK is now down, and the fear of the Nhs becoming overwhelmed by the virus, was a key factor in all three lockdowns in the UK.
Mr Cleverly’s reluctance to provide any certainty this will be the last lockdown makes allowance for the possibility of the virus or a strain of the virus, spreading wildly again, even after much vulnerable groups are vaccinated.
Another scenario like that will simply make nonsense of the vaccine, if infections still rise and leads to mass hospitalisations and deaths as we have seen in the past year.
“We are taking the right action, we are doing the right things and we very much hope that this will be the last lockdown,” Mr Cleverly said.
Cleverly’s comments also provide an important reason for proper scrutiny of the way hospitalisation and death statistics are gathered, to guarantee a precise picture of where we are with the virus.
If lockdowns were to become the new normal in the UK, it will destroy the economy far beyond the damage currently done, and intensify mental health issues among the vulnerable.
The lockdowns in the UK so far can be defended on the grounds of saving lives, but will become difficult to justify once a vast majority of the UK population has been vaccinated, as is happening at quick pace.
The minister’s comments on lockdown are similar to those expressed Boris Johnson, who told a Downing Street news conference on Monday that he hopes the current shutdown will be the last, but admitted he cannot offer “an absolute cast iron guarantee”.