New coronavirus rules: Has Boris Johnson done enough or too much?

Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new measures designed to curb a rise in coronvirus infections.
Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new measures designed to curb a rise in coronvirus infections. Credit: Number 10

The prime minister announced a raft of measures that will significantly delay the UK’s  economic recovery, but whose impact on the spread of coronavirus is profoundly uncertain.

The important point is that there is only one significant new measure, namely closing pubs and restaurants between 10pm and 5am.

Pretty much everything else is either:

1. A toughening up of existing measures - such as more compulsory mask wearing in shops and restaurant, and banning indoor five-a-side football.

2. Or freezing the planned re-opening of the economy, such as a return to work in offices  that the PM urged only days ago or permission for us to go to football and other sports matches and attend business exhibitions.

It may of course be that the rule that said we may socialise in groups no bigger than six, introduced earlier this month - whose breach will be punishable by fines that look more of a threat now that soldiers will be deployed to free-up police officers for social distancing enforcement - will be seen in time to have been the most important social distancing measure.

Though the data is ambiguous on whether the 'rule of six' is yet making a profound difference.

And there is the rub.

These measures will be ample if the government and its advisers have been scaremongering with their warnings that the second wave is upon us, which is what some credible data scientists and epidemiologists have been saying.

In which case we may rue the desertification of city centres caused by the exponential growth of home working.

But if Whitty and Vallance are correct that the virus is already too seeded as climactic conditions are about to provide a more fertile environment for its poisonous dissemination, then today is only the first milestone passed on a six month journey that will see more precious freedoms withdrawn before a resumption of something we took for granted, namely normal life.


Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon implies Boris Johnson has not done enough since she is banning people from different households mixing indoors - which Johnson has so far resisted doing.