As the second spike of this dreaded Coronavirus continues to take hold, today, the Government spoke to the nation. In what turned out to be one of those typically ‘worst kept secrets’ (the media was headlining it all three days ago!) the State announced a ‘tiered system of restrictions’ – in reality, a revised set of rules based on the deteriorating situation.
The message was delivered in three distinct phases across all platforms…
Phase 1 – The Medical Professionals
Before lunch, we had the expertise of NHS Medical Director, Stephen Powis; Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor, Jonathan Van-Tam and Executive Medical Director, Manchester University, Professor Jane Eddleston.
It was a 43-minute slide-driven numbers-based affair that really drove the point home about how bad things had become! All-in-all, very depressing, and very frightening news – no escaping the fact that we’re back in the s***!
In summary, according to the BBC…
Phase 2 – The Commons
At 3.35pm, we had the PM in full flow, delivering the bad news to a socially-distanced Commons.
He insisted there would be ‘no return to a national lockdown’ and ‘control of the virus will be through changing our behaviour’. Given the criticism so far about ‘the rules’, there would now be a simplification of the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ in the shape of ‘three tiers’: Level 1 – Medium, Level 2 – High and Level 3 – Very High (luckily, Kettering is Level 1). In each area, the Government will work with local leaders to ‘fine-tune’ local arrangements. In spite of the restrictions, Retail, Schools and Universities will remain open! As expected, the Her Majesty’s Opposition wasn’t happy, meaning the PM was on his feet battling questions (actually, from both sides of the House!) for pretty much 99% of the time.
Still, it could be worse – we could be living in Scotland where socialising – under the rules – means you’d be better off locking yourself in a cupboard and not coming out until it’s all over!! 😫
Phase 3 – The Press Briefing
At 7.00pm, it was the turn of the triple-act of Politicians, Bojo and Rishi Sunak supported by Scientist, Chris Whitty. Their role was to deliver the bad news to the baying mob aka the media – and the rest of the nation. Those in the Liverpool city area were especially interested, as they are most affected under the new rules being the only area so far to be placed in the highest tier of ‘Very High’. 😮
Who’s be a politician ehh? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! 😮
The PM clarified who was in which Tier and then, at 7.07pm, he handed over to the Chancellor. Entitled ‘The Winter Support Plan’, he outlined the specifics, including an expansion of the job support scheme that will run for six-months. There’s a more generous and responsive welfare system promised too! Pleasingly for some, there’s also going to be a regular cash grant of £3000 per month for some businesses that will never need to be re-paid. On the subject of cash injection, there is even more funding for local authorities too, on top of £3.7 billion already announced! The Chancellor was very specific with his answer when quizzed about the financial reality of someone’s take-home if they were on minimum wage. 🙂
7.10pm, and it was Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty‘s turn. Another slide-driven presentation.
7.17pm: Over to us, the public, for just a few questions, followed by the BBC’s resident Rottweiler, the ever-popular Laura Kuenssberg. ITV’s Robert Peston followed, and then Sky’s Political Editor, Beth Rigby. Individually and collectively, they kept the trio on their toes. Other members of the media followed where their tone was pretty negative and critical of the Government’s handling (and proposed handling) of the pandemic.
7.45pm: With the end of the Press Briefing, I bet Boris was glad it was all over (for today!) 🤔 Another day tomorrow BoJo! 😁