Leicester Lockdown: Is a local lockdown the best approach? – Labour Article
It has become increasingly clear that attitudes towards the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK have become more relaxed. Yet, the Leicester lockdown shows the virus is far from over.
The lifting of certain restrictions has welcomed heart-warming scenes of family reunions and the reopening of small businesses. However, such scenes have sadly come to a temporary end in Leicester, where the rate of infection reached numbers “three times higher than the next city”.
Instead, they entered into the UK’s first local lockdown. It is likely that more will follow.
As governmental advice becomes seemingly more lenient, it is almost inevitable that infection rates will worsen in particular areas. With such inevitability, are local lockdowns the right approach moving forward? Or would a one-size-fits-all approach be more sensical?
Local lockdowns are new territory in the UK. However, they are not new globally. Parts of China and the Melbourne suburbs in Australia have previously introduced local lockdowns following outbreaks in particular areas. There, it seemingly makes sense; their size and population are rather large.
However, the size of the UK is incomparable with these examples. This naturally provides greater room for concern and confusion over the potential success of such measures in the UK. Is it possible to lock-down one particular area when there is so much ease of travel in and out of the respective city?
In this respect, perhaps it would be simpler to introduce stricter rules nation-wide. Simpler by means of public understanding that is. Everyone would then be on an equal footing – offering a sense of much-needed unity. There would also then be the potential to halt further restriction-breaking across the UK. Or, have we gone too far beyond this possibility?
While I truly empathise with the people of Leicester, and understand the difficulty of revoking the return to normality, I can also understand the reasons for such a lockdown.
The numbers themselves are quite frankly shocking and saddening – the city accounted for around one in 16 of the UK’s total cases over a two week period. Given this, some form of action needed to be taken.
Analysing the Conservative government’s response through this entire pandemic has made it so apparent that their prime concern is the rebuilding of our economy. Thus, it is understandable that a local lockdown approach was chosen, rather than a nation-wide enforcement of stricter regulations. A stop-start notion would have obvious repercussions on the UK’s economy, as it would on small businesses and individuals across the country.
Although Leicester is of course still suffering with such hardship, this particular approach is seemingly sensical on the whole – particularly from the government’s perspective of protecting the economy.
However, there are inherent problems with such an approach. I have already mentioned issues surrounding the geographical makeup of the UK. As such a densely populated country, it will naturally be very difficult to control the movement of those placed under these restrictions. Thus, it will be rather difficult to enforce such measures.
Do the boundaries of local lockdowns need reassessing? While it may not be possible to solely lockdown one city, the inclusion of surrounding areas in such a lockdown may eliminate any potential restriction-breaking. Naturally, this would cause some frustration among residents of such areas, it may prove necessary to prevent the virus from spreading once again.
I would also like to touch upon the government’s approach to easing restrictions thus far.
Interestingly, Boris Johnson this week said that now is the time to be “ambitious” regarding future plans for physically rebuilding the country. Such ‘ambition’ should have been applied into protecting the people of this country, rather than solely on its economy and Johnson’s political campaign. Then, this conversation may not have been necessary; all areas of the UK would be at a similar level.
While local lockdowns may be the best option we have currently, we cannot absolutely follow examples of similar approaches in other countries. Our geographical differences will require a more stringent set of restrictions to allow for adequate enforcement.
There is great potential here to limit the further spreading of the virus. Unfortunately, there is also great potential for the rise of further issues.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Point of Information
There is no right way of handling this – Conservative Response
When reading Abi’s article, I was still making up my mind about the local lockdown in Leicester. Is it a good idea? Whenever there are talks about lockdown and Covid-19, I try my best to think logically and long-term. Naturally, we need to ensure that people are safe. I could certainly empathise with the argument regarding the density of the UK as compared to other countries, and naturally, we need to consider an approach that will work for ours.
Under the new local lockdown rules, 239 restaurants will remain closed along with 182 bars and other venues. Are they going to survive the local lockdown?
The recently released Preliminary investigation into COVID-19 exceedances in Leicester suggests that the spike may be also due to the changes to testing, not necessarily a sign of the second wave. I believe that we need to take a cautious approach but also consider the implications of the potential longer lockdown for Leicester and our country.
However, I do think that there’s a lot at stake right now. We’re facing one of the worst recessions in history. The Financial Times reports that there is a likelihood that the economy will contract by 11.5 per cent in 2020, given we will avoid the second wave. If there will be a second wave, the economy will bounce back only by 5%. This puts us in a dangerous position – we need to avoid the second wave, but also ensure that our economy comes back. I don’t think that we can risk putting the whole country in lockdown again.
The furlough scheme will end eventually and it will lead to a lot of redundancies due to the fact that the businesses didn’t manage to survive. Statista reported that nearly a quarter of businesses in the UK have closed due to coronavirus. This will lead to higher unemployment and inequality. And this may ruin Leicester if we’re not careful. The businesses that managed to stay afloat for the duration of the lockdown, may now fold under the new local lockdown. Naturally, large businesses will survive. But our own, British small businesses may not. I feel like a different approach would be smarter. Even some business owners suggest that wearing masks and re-opening could help more than just delaying the process for two weeks. Will the local lockdown stifle the virus? We shall see.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Enforce Precautions, But Not a Lockdown in Leicester – Liberal Response
The Conservatives have rushed into reopening too soon. There should have been a much more gradual ‘rebuilding’.
It is careless to suddenly free a country whilst one city remains under strict lockdown. I agree with Abi that continuous local lockdowns are less effective than the government thinks. Leicester will not be the only exception. 36 other areas remain at risk of local lockdown as they see cases rise. It seems only natural to suggest a nation-wide lockdown.
However, we need to be honest with ourselves. The government cannot now re-introduce a national lockdown, which would continue to hamper the livelihoods of millions. We cannot forget that Britain’s economy and the lives of its people are inextricably linked. We cannot allow mass uncertainty and the negative consequences that come with it. Another nationwide lockdown would be an issue in itself.
We should balance gradual economic freedom with our own safety. This is the most humane approach. The Conservatives should continuously emphasise the importance of keeping to legislation once ‘Independence Day’ dawns. Even then, we should always be cautious in our daily lives. Testing should be implemented en-masse as well, particularly for front-line workers. However, no systematic policy for this is in place. We need one immediately.
Ideally, I would have extended the dates for some reopenings. However, this is too little, too late. The Conservatives have committed to their rushed policy and now must see it through, if only because the people of Britain need some certainty again. Testing and precautions are our best way forward.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
My name is Dinah Kolka and I am going into the first year of Journalism at Napier University in Edinburgh. Recently, I graduated from Edinburgh College with an HNC in Media and Communications. This ignited my interest in politics and journalism.