17 October 2020

Coronavirus #20: On circuit breakers

With cases continuing to rise in the UK, calls have been made for a temporary "circuit-breaker" lockdown to 'reset' the pandemic back a month and create an opportunity to fix Test and Trace. Here are my thoughts on this: 

  • I am not sure how fixable Test and Trace actually is; there is a fundamental lack of engagement with the system from much of the public. But there are things that can be done.
  • We need to stop cases rebounding after any circuit breaker ends.
  • There are highly different rates of infection in different parts of the country, although there are rising cases in all of them.
  • A circuit breaker in the worst affected areas would be justified at the present time, especially with Halloween approaching. However, how much compliance there would be with it will be is unclear.
  • Money will be key in securing compliance; I am not sure how affordable this is considering the damage to the economy from the national lockdown.
  • Shutting schools would likely get R down below 1 on its own. A four-week half-term, with subsequent juggling of the rest of the school year to catch-up, would majorly reduce cases, with the added bonus that it would force many people to work from home.
  • A circuit breaker over Christmas would be very unpopular. One just before, however might just fly.
I would support a circuit breaker over October half-term, but we need something for beyond that.

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