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In an interview with the BBC this morning Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle city council, expanded on the criticisms of the government’s handling of the lockdown announcement that he made last night. (See 9.15am.)
The problem that we’ve got is not just that the secretary of state has made an announcement without any kind of understanding about the impact on affected businesses, and the potential for job losses. But also, by doing it in a very knee-jerk way, it means that we haven’t got the right communication messages in place locally, and as a result confusion and chaos spreads which actually undermines the very messages that we are trying to get across to the public.
David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation special envoy on coronavirus, told the Today programme this morning that governments would not defeat coronavirus just by imposing every stricter rules. What mattered was getting people to comply with social distancing voluntarily, he said.
This war, and I think it’s reasonable to call it a war, against this virus, which is going to go on for the foreseeable future, is not going to be won by creating tougher and tougher rules that attempt to control people’s behaviour.
The only way that we will come out ahead of this virus is if we’re all able to do the right thing in the right place at the right time because we choose to do it.