NEW LOCKDOWN RULES FOR ENGLAND FROM MONDAY
- Max social gatherings SIX PEOPLE
- Applies indoors and outdoors
- Applies in private homes
- Applies in pubs and restaurants
- Does NOT apply to schools or workplaces
- Does NOT apply to weddings, funerals, team sports
- Does NOT apply if household bubbles are larger than six people
- Police will be asked to break up larger groups and impose £ 100 fines which will then double to £ 3,200 for each repeat offense
Boris Johnson warned tonight that draconian new coronavirus restrictions could last for months – as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty put his finger on & # 39; Generation Z & # 39; showed because in some cases it caused an increase.
Addressing the nation at the first No. 10 press conference since July, the prime minister said last week's surge in infections had left him no choice but to tighten the lockdown across England for the first time since March. "We have to act," he said.
He signaled that the "six-point limit" for the number of people who can socialize together will continue to exist for some time after the party has sparked a sharp rise among the younger generation. Aside from a vaccine, he said the only other way out before Christmas was a "moon shot", which introduced daily mass tests for everyone, and admitted that "it all has to come together".
In a direct appeal to young people, Mr Johnson said they should consider their behavior "for the good of your parents" and the health of your grandparents.
Prof. Whitty said the number of coronavirus cases has increased "much faster" in the past few days. While the numbers remained "flat" in older people and children, there were "rapid upward movements" in other age groups.
He said the numbers for 17 to 18 year olds and 19 to 21 year olds had "really increased quite steeply" since mid-August.
He said data suggests that, without action, the UK would be on an "extremely similar" path to France, where the numbers have continued to rise.
In Belgium, however, the authorities took “decisive action” which caused interest rates to stabilize and then fall. "This is a clear indication that if you act quickly and decisively, there are good opportunities to get rates back under control," he said.
Government sources were gloomy about a "difficult six months". An official warned that it was not a "few weeks and we'll be back to where we were" scenario and said the R number was "well above one".
As of Monday, it will be illegal to gather in groups of seven or more across England, indoors or outdoors.
The limit – sparked by concerns about partying young people causing a flare-up – is a dramatic reduction from the July 4th maximum of 30. It is enforced by police with fines of £ 100 and doubles up to £ for each repeated violation 3,200.
The only exceptions are schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations.
Pubs and restaurants are also required by law to collect contact information. Before that, they were only asked to act in governance. And Mr Johnson said the government needs to "revise and review" the return of theaters and stadium events, with a 1,000-attendee cap for sports games.
Mr Johnson said he was "sorry" that larger households couldn't meet because they were above the six-person threshold. "But as your prime minister, I must do everything I can to stop the virus from spreading."
On another dramatic day about the coronavirus crisis:
- The UK has announced 2,659 more coronavirus cases and eight deaths as Boris Johnson announces that people will need to cut back on social contact to contain coronavirus as infections rise.
- The Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine study was suspended for safety reasons after a UK volunteer had a "serious" reaction that could have been caused by an injection
- Business leaders, MPs and academics told the Prime Minister not to re-lock the UK and a think tank warned that a second shutdown would be "catastrophic".
- Health bosses apologized for testing system bugs after many people were unable to book due to lab residue.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that with the surge in infections over the past week, he had no choice but to act
Slides presented at the press conference tonight show younger people are driving the rise in Covid cases
Health Minister Matt Hancock (right) praised the measures to control Covid in Belgium, which imposed a curfew
"We can't lock the UK back down": Scientists, MPs and industry leaders warn Boris that another coronavirus shutdown could cripple the country
Boris Johnson was urged to think very carefully last night before imposing a new lockdown in response to a surge in virus cases.
Business leaders, MPs and academics urged the Prime Minister to first consider other options. A think tank warned that a second shutdown would be "catastrophic".
Government concern was sparked by numbers on Sunday that showed 2,988 new infections had occurred in the past 24 hours, the highest daily rate since May 22.
Monday's numbers were on a similar level, with an additional 2,948 positive cases by 9 a.m., a jump from the 1,175 reported on Saturday. The final death toll of 30 was the highest in six weeks.
However, Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said, “With the number of cases in the UK only a fraction of what it was in March, a second lockdown would be disastrous and should be avoided.
Oxford and AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine study will be put on HOLD for safety reasons
Phase 3 trials for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca were suspended after a "serious adverse event" was reported in a participant in the UK.
Serious adverse events are suspected reactions to vaccines or drugs that must be hospitalized, are life threatening, or are fatal.
It's unclear exactly what the reaction was, but a person familiar with the matter told Stat News that the person is expected to recover.
Trial periods are not uncommon, but it's a blow to global hopes that a shot will be ready in the coming months, as the AstraZeneca shot has been viewed as the world's leading candidate by many – including the World Health Organization.
The development of the AstraZeneca vaccine and eight other vaccines in Phase 3 trials will be closely watched in the hope that they can contain the coronavirus.
It did after vaccine developers – including AstraZeneca – pledged not to cut back on safety and efficacy tests, despite U.S. President Trump urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get an emergency vaccine approval before the Nov. 3 election granted.
The new rules follow an increase in cases from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the UK last week – with a particular increase in infections among young people.
Infections are most common in the 19 to 21 age group with 54 cases per 100,000 people.
The measures the Prime Minister presented tonight include:
- Places where people meet socially, such as pubs and restaurants, are required by law to request the contact details of all party members and to keep the information for 21 days. Fines of £ 1,000 may be imposed on restaurants if they are not complied with.
- Passengers traveling to the UK are required to complete a simplified form with their contact details prior to departure, while the Border Force is stepping up enforcement efforts to ensure compliance with quarantine rules.
- Plans to test larger audiences at venues later this month are being revised, and the government is reviewing its intention to bring audiences back to stadiums and conference centers from October 1st.
- The opening times of some venues may be restricted in some regions. It comes after the restaurants in Bolton had to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- "Covid-safe marshals" are being introduced to ensure social distancing in cities and city centers and to improve the enforcement capacity of local authorities.
Mr. Johnson told Briefing # 10 that he knew that the rules had become "quite complicated and confusing" as the crisis progressed.
"We react, simplify and strengthen the rules and make them more understandable for everyone," he said.
He continued, “This rule of six will of course raise difficult cases, for example, two whole households will not be able to meet if they collectively cross the limit of six, and I am sorry and I wish that we didn't have to take this step.
“But as your prime minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives. And of course, we will keep reviewing the rule of six and only keep it for as long as necessary. & # 39;
Mr Johnson said he had hired the cabinet to enforce the rules, adding, "Going forward, spaces where people meet socially will be required by law to request the contact details of a member of each party, record and retain that data for 21 days and." provide them to NHS Test and Trace immediately if necessary. & # 39;
The introduction of "Covid-safe marshals" in city centers will also help increase social distancing, he said.
Enforcement of quarantine rules for arrivals in the UK is also being stepped up.
Mr Johnson said the government was "working hard" to increase testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October – and he said the "moon shot" was introducing daily testing.
He said, “So far we have mainly used tests to identify positive people. So we can isolate them from the community and protect high risk groups.
& # 39; And that will continue to be our priority. We are working hard to increase our testing capacity to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October.
"But in the future, in the near future, we want to use tests to identify people who are negative – who don't have coronavirus and who are not infectious – so we can allow them to behave in more normal ways." Know that they cannot infect anyone with the virus.
& # 39; And we believe we hope that new test types will become available that are simple, fast, and scalable.
'You use swabs or saliva and can turn the results over in 90 or even 20 minutes.
"What should be crucial is that these tests can be used on a much larger scale than has been the case in any country – literally millions of tests processed every day."
However, Prof. Whitty and Scientific Director Patrick Vallance poured cold water on the idea that such a regime could soon be introduced.
Sir Patrick said it was not a "slam dunk that can definitely happen".
And Prof. Whitty said that while he personally thought saliva tests were likely to be developed, the time scales were highly uncertain.
In a grim assessment of the upcoming slog, Prof. Whitty said, “Everyone I think in the country will know, and it has been widely reported that the period of fall and winter when all respiratory viruses benefit is because people crowd get together, more things are done indoors, among other things, it becomes difficult.
How No10 panicked in a week
September 2nd: Bolton and Trafford were supposed to be taken out of lockdown but the idea was ditched at the last minute after an appeal by local leaders warning of cases went too high.
Boris Johnson tells MPs of his determination to get the British back into the office and reveals that part-time season tickets could be introduced.
September 3: Matt Hancock said quick new saliva tests for Covid could mean the country will be back to normal by Christmas.
Portugal and Greece are excluded from England's "red" arrival quarantine list, despite restrictions imposed by Wales and Scotland.
September 4th: Cases hit 1,940 cases in one day, the highest since May. Boris Johnson rejects test calls to airports, saying it only gives a "false sense of security".
September 6th: The number of cases rose again to 2,988, most of them since May 27th. However, experts point out that hospital stays and deaths remain at very low levels.
7th of September: New infections are falling slightly, but at 2,420 they are still more than twice as high as the security level of the Joint Biosecurity Center.
Grant Shapps is partly following the example of Scotland and Wales by adding seven Greek islands to the quarantine list.
Nicola Sturgeon announces that the lockdown in Scotland will not ease further as planned.
September 8th: Mr Hancock announces that a draconian ban will be imposed in Bolton as it has the highest rate in the UK. Pubs and restaurants have to be closed until 10 p.m. and people cannot socialize outside of their household.
Across the UK, daily infections are again above 2,000.
The Prime Minister informed the Cabinet that after the number of cases has risen in other countries, there are more deaths and the situation is being taken "seriously".
the 9th of September: Mr Johnson announces a legal ban on gatherings of more than six people, which is punishable by fines. Mr Hancock indicated that Belgian-style curfews could be considered next.
“So the time between now and spring will be difficult because it is a respiratory virus.
"I think in terms of the restrictions in place, people should consider this the next block of time that may not last many months, but it is very unlikely to be over in just two or three weeks."
The bars and restaurants in Bolton, which has the highest prices in the UK, have to close by 22:00 and are only takeaway.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock today insisted that despite the difficult steps, it was still right for people to return to their offices. He said the workplaces were "Covid-safe" and there was evidence that almost all transmissions were in social settings.
But he revealed the tightening overnight, saying, “We must act now to stop the virus from spreading. That is why we are simplifying and strengthening the rules for social contact – so that they are easier to understand and can be enforced by the police.
"It's absolutely important that people now stick to these rules and remember the basics – wash hands, cover your face, keep your place in front of others, and get a test if you have symptoms."
Mr Hancock told Sky News that the restrictions were "absolutely important in protecting life." “Unfortunately we have seen an increase in the number of cases in the last few days. We have seen that there is a second wave across Europe that many countries have seen.
“Some of these countries will then have this second wave under control. If you look at what happened in Belgium, you saw an increase and then decreased it, while in France and Spain this just didn't happen. & # 39;
Behind the scenes, officials are increasingly concerned about the direction of travel, with fears the UK may follow the path from places like France, where infections have risen far more and deaths are starting to follow.
Mr Johnson had a conference call with the police last week asking him to simplify the rules to make enforcement easier.
Mr Hancock refused to rule out a second lockdown despite the Prime Minister's assurances.
Speaking to LBC, Hancock said, "Our goal is to avoid having to take more drastic measures for people who obey the rules."
But he wouldn't rule out a return to lockdown and say, “I wouldn't take such a vow.
"You wouldn't expect me – I'm the health minister in the middle of a pandemic we're trying to protect the country."
But he added that he "hoped" that a lockdown could be avoided and said, "The number of cases is largely determined by people who socialize."
Urged when asked whether the government is aiming for a return to normal by Christmas, he said, "I really hope we can change this before Christmas."
Ministers were shocked on Sunday when virus cases doubled to nearly 3,000 – the highest number since May.
They have put in place local lockdowns to control flare-ups and the rules were tightened again yesterday in Bolton, with a 10pm curfew on restaurants and a ban on eating.
Downing Street said the surge appeared to have been driven by "young people, often in affluent areas."
The prime minister's spokesman said similar outbreaks in young people in the US and Europe spread deadly to the elderly a few weeks later. He added, "We have to make sure this doesn't happen."
The crackdown will upset some Tory MPs, who urge the government to press ahead with reopening society to avoid economic collapse.
But a government source last night insisted the rule of six was necessary to counter the threat of a major lockdown.
Mr. Johnson will underline the message at a press conference this afternoon, which will be flanked by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
The data presented at the press conference show that the cases are still low compared to some other European countries – but highlighted the effects of higher tests on the younger generation
Where are the bans in the UK and how many cases are there per 100,000 people?
In France, the hospitalization rate has tripled in one month, while in Spain it has increased by 15 times since July.
A new campaign has also been launched to encourage people to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Hands Face Space campaign urges people to ensure that they have washed their hands, used a mask if necessary, and maintain social distance.
The campaign says these are the three most effective methods the public can use to contain the spread of the virus.
The ad shows how the virus is spreading indoors – which is particularly relevant in winter.
It should be noted that the novel coronavirus can live for more than 24 hours indoors – it is unlikely to survive long outdoors in sunlight. Regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer can also help reduce a person's risk of contracting the virus and passing it on.
What happened in Belgium
The Belgian authorities have been increasingly alarmed after a steady rise in coronavirus cases in July.
However, the worrying trend appears to have been halted by stricter restrictions – including an edict that nightspots stop serving alcohol until 10 p.m.
The worst hit city of Antwerp had a curfew in late July, requiring every member of the public to be home between 11:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
In mid-August, the curfew was shortened to 1.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is a limit of four people sitting together at the same table in restaurants unless they come from the same household.
Plans to reopen nightclubs and major events have also been put on hold.
In Brussels, wearing a face mask was mandatory in all public areas on August 12.
The police have also enforced the rules more strictly.
It shows how people's breath droplets can spread and how wearing a mask can reduce the spread of droplets.
And it shows how maintaining a safety margin means that the virus is less likely to be transmitted.
The Police Federation of England and Wales urged the government to "play its part" after "so many legislative changes" through the public information campaign.
The developments stem from reports that the government could soon take action against young people spreading the coronavirus.
The UK reported 30 more Covid-19 deaths yesterday – the highest single-day total in six weeks – as ministers warned the nation that the nation will suffer more misery if the rules of social distancing are not followed.
In a possible sign to the rest of the country, the Health Secretary announced that Bolton pubs must close their doors to prevent a flare-up.
They can only be served to take away and must close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The ban on gatherings of more than six people has already caused anger among Tory MPs, who pointed out that infection rates remain extremely low.
A former minister told MailOnline it was "terrible and disproportionate," a "huge invasion of privacy," and "governing by policy".
The government fears that hospital stays will soon increase as a result of increasing infections, although scientists have assured that most cases occur in younger, healthy generations.
Official data shows that the surge in new cases in July and August was driven by teenagers and 20-year-olds, while cases in older generations continue to decline.
Hospital admissions in the UK have remained stable. Only one in 100,000 people currently needs medical care because of a Covid-19 infection, which further helps prevent people from getting seriously ill with the disease.
It follows that Mr Hancock said to the House of Commons, "Just because we have climbed doesn't mean we can't see anyone else coming."
Several locations in the UK have had to impose stricter Covid-19 restrictions to curb transmission. Bolton pubs were the first in England to be closed again.
The Department of Health's update of 30 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday covers all settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and private homes.
European nations are only seeing a fraction of the weekly footage they had during the height of the pandemic, raising questions about whether it really could be a "second wave".
Coronavirus hospital admissions in the UK could rise in three weeks, according to data from other European countries. When Spain, France and Belgium hit 18 cases per 100,000 cases (which the UK did on Sunday), they saw up to a four-fold increase in admissions
The MailOnline analysis shows that since July 4th, “Super Saturday”, the number of infections among 20 to 29 year olds in England has risen from 9.2 to 28 cases per 100,000
At the same time, cases in those over 80 have fallen dramatically since the peak of the pandemic when they made up the majority of Covid-19 cases, and have halved since July. Infections remained stable in the 60s and 70s, while they increased slightly between the ages of 40 and 59
Cumulative cases in people between the ages of 10 and 19 and between 20 and 29 years of age during the pandemic. It shows that cases have increased since July 5th
Cumulative cases in people between 70 and 80 years of age over the course of the pandemic. It shows that cases continued to decline over the summer
During the summer, a number of restrictions on people's lives were lifted, allowing people of working age and younger to work and socialize in pubs, parks, and summer barbecues. However, groups of more than six people can no longer chat from Monday. Fall rates among young people are higher in the north west of England. There were 49.3 cases per 100,000 people over the age of 20 in the northwest, compared with 17.3 in the southwest and southeast – the lowest of all regions
"Wir können Großbritannien nicht wieder blockieren": Wissenschaftler, Abgeordnete und Branchenführer warnen Boris Johnson, dass eine weitere Abschaltung des Coronavirus das Land lahm legen könnte
Boris Johnson wurde gestern Abend aufgefordert, sehr sorgfältig zu überlegen, bevor er als Reaktion auf einen Anstieg der Virusfälle eine neue Sperre verhängt.
Wirtschaftsführer, Abgeordnete und Wissenschaftler forderten den Premierminister auf, zunächst andere Optionen zu prüfen. Eine Denkfabrik warnte davor, dass eine zweite Abschaltung „katastrophal“ sei.
Die Besorgnis innerhalb der Regierung wurde durch Zahlen am Sonntag ausgelöst, die zeigten, dass in den letzten 24 Stunden 2.988 Neuinfektionen aufgetreten waren, die höchste Tagesrate seit dem 22. Mai.
Die Zahlen vom Montag waren auf einem ähnlichen Niveau, mit zusätzlichen 2.948 positiven Fällen bis 9 Uhr morgens, ein Sprung von den 1.175 am Samstag gemeldeten. Die letzte Zahl von 30 Todesopfern war die höchste seit sechs Wochen.
Christopher Snowdon vom Institute of Economic Affairs sagte jedoch: „Da die Zahl der Fälle in Großbritannien nur einen Bruchteil des Standes im März beträgt, wäre eine zweite Sperrung katastrophal und sollte vermieden werden.
'Schweden hat uns einen vernünftigeren Weg gezeigt, um Risiko, Freiheit und Wirtschaft in Einklang zu bringen. Die Rechtfertigung der Regierung für die landesweite Sperrung im März war der Schutz des NHS. Nach sechs Monaten der Vorbereitung ist es sehr unwahrscheinlich, dass der NHS von einer zweiten Welle überwältigt wird. & # 39;
Mike Cherry von der Federation of Small Businesses sagte, die erste nationale Sperrung sei unglaublich schädlich und fügte hinzu: „Wenn wir eine zweite durch den Einsatz alternativer Maßnahmen zur Eindämmung des Virus vermeiden können, würde dies vielen kleinen Unternehmen Hoffnung geben, wenn sie es versuchen wieder auf die Beine kommen. & # 39;
Tej Parikh vom Institute of Directors sagte, die Wirtschaftsführer würden angesichts der Aussicht auf eine Rückkehr zu starken Beschränkungen zurückschrecken.
"Es ist von größter Bedeutung, dass die Unterstützung für Unternehmen mit allen erforderlichen Maßnahmen übereinstimmt", sagte er.
"Die Regierung sollte auch vorsichtig sein, die bestehende Unterstützung zu schnell zurückzuziehen, da das Virus noch nicht fertig und abgestaubt ist."
Nachtschwärmer gehen im Stadtzentrum von Bolton auf die Straße, nachdem weitere Maßnahmen zur Sperrung des Coronavirus ergriffen wurden
Shaun Fitzgerald, Professor in Cambridge und Regierungsberater für soziale Distanzierung, forderte die Öffentlichkeit auf, mehr Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Er sagte: "Vielleicht sollte die Frage lauten: Könnte ich etwas anderes tun, um zu helfen?" Kann ich zum Beispiel die Häufigkeit reduzieren, mit der ich in die Läden gehe, indem ich meine Einkäufe strenger im Voraus plane?
»Wasche ich meine Hände so regelmäßig wie Lockdown? Es gibt vielleicht viele Dinge, die wir alle tun können, um zu helfen. & # 39;
Auf die Ankündigung der Regierung von gestern Abend, dass gesellschaftliche Zusammenkünfte von mehr als sechs Personen ab Montag verboten werden, antwortete der frühere Tory-Führer Iain Duncan Smith: „Das ist einfach verrückt. Es ist lächerlich.
'Dies wird ein Hammerschlag für die Wirtschaft sein, gerade als wir anfingen, die Dinge in Ordnung zu bringen.
"Warum haben wir diesen" Push Me Pull You "-Ansatz? Das kann nicht weitergehen. '
Die frühere Umweltministerin Theresa Villiers sagte: „Die Rückkehr in die Sperrung wäre ein großer Rückschlag für die Wirtschaft. Ich hoffe, die Regierung wird alle anderen möglichen Optionen ausschöpfen, bevor sie über den drastischen Schritt nachdenkt, die Wirtschaft wieder zu schließen. & # 39;
Tory-Abgeordneter Steve Baker, ein ehemaliger Brexit-Minister, sagte: „Eine neue nationale Sperrung würde wirtschaftliches, nicht kovidisches Gesundheits-, Bildungs-, bürgerliches und soziales Schicksal bedeuten. Es darf nicht passieren. & # 39;
Der gestrige Gesundheitsminister Matt Hancock sagte, er werde nicht "davor zurückschrecken, gezielte lokale Maßnahmen zu ergreifen", wie sie gestern in Bolton verhängt wurden.
SARAH VINE: So ängstlich oder nervös wir auch sein mögen, wir müssen den Mut finden, mit unserem Leben weiterzumachen
September ist meine Lieblingsjahreszeit: Ich liebe das Schulanfangsgefühl. Und nach einem langen Sommer der Sperrung fühlt es sich mehr denn je gut an, wieder in die Routine zurückzukehren.
Ich kann dir nicht sagen, wie sehr ich die 7-Uhr-Starts genossen habe, vor denen ich mich gefürchtet habe, das Harken widerspenstiger Teenager aus dem Bett, die Rufe "Wo ist mein Buspass, Mama?" und 'Ich kann keine sauberen Socken finden'.
In meinem Bademantel in der Küche zu stehen und meinen jetzt 6 Fuß 2 Zoll großen 15-Jährigen anzustarren, während ich seine Krawatte für ihn knotete, oder meine Tochter anzuschreien, den blutigen Rock herunterzuziehen, fühlt sich einfach so fantastisch und brillant normal an .
Sogar der Moment, in dem sie gegangen sind und eine unordentliche Spur feuchter Cornflakes hinterlassen haben, fühlt sich irgendwie besonders an. Wer hätte gedacht, dass sich etwas so Alltägliches so magisch anfühlen könnte?
Von Beginn der Pandemie an war es diese Erosion des Alltags, mit der ich mich so schwer abfinden konnte.
The vice-like grip of the virus on our freedoms, the way it has made us feel guilty for craving the most basic human interactions: a glass of wine with a friend, a trip to the shops — once normal pastimes, now viewed with the same horror as a Cardinal stumbling across a pagan orgy in full flow.
September is my favourite time of year: I love the back-to-school feel of it. And after a long summer of lockdown, more than ever it feels good to get back into a routine (Pictured: A teacher leads a maths class for Year Four children in their classroom at Greenacres Primary Academy in Oldham, northern England on September 01, 2020)
There is more than a whiff of religious zealotry in the way some seem to have revelled in the more draconian aspects of lockdown.
In some cases, it borders on the cultish. They pursue obeisance to the virus at the expense of all else: our children's education, the economy, jobs, treatment of other illnesses. And anyone who dares question their logic is quickly shut down, accused of being a heartless granny killer.
Indeed, anyone who challenges the wisdom of lockdown risks being branded a virus-denier, in much the same way as anyone questioning the actions of Extinction Rebellion is labelled a climate-change denier — even though both stances, in most cases, simply represent a more moderate point of view.
The vast majority of people are aware of the dangers this illness presents to the elderly and those with underlying conditions; but they also understand that the repercussions of lockdown — as we are already beginning to see — will be devastating.
It is this impossible dilemma the Government faces. You can't slow the speed of the virus and thus control hospitalisations without shutting down the country; and if you shut down the country, you can't save jobs, preserve the economy and generally stop us all from sliding into hopeless penury.
In order to preserve life we have to kill the country; but if we kill the country we'll have no life. It is, quite simply, Catch-22.
That is why the messaging is so confusing and why people are so confused: it is an inherently unsolvable situation. And it's also why certain sections of the public have, not to put too fine a point on it, slightly given up trying.
Right from the start of the pandemic, it has been this erosion of the everyday that I've found so hard to come to terms with (Pictured: Passengers wait to board a westbound Jubilee train from Canning Town, East London)
In particular, young people: the 18-30s, for whom a bout of Covid is likely to be no more troublesome than a bad hangover (of which there must have been quite a few recently, given the spate of house parties and raves in the past few weeks), have all but ditched social distancing, with the result that infection numbers are starting to creep up again.
Figures for Sunday showed there had been 2,988 new infections in the UK in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily rate since May 22. On Monday, numbers were at a similar level: 2,948 positive cases.
Objectively, the infection rate is still very low — roughly 22 cases per 100,000 in the week to September 7; but, in the previous week, it was only 13.9 per 100,000, so that represents quite a jump.
Inevitably, that increase will translate into hospitalisations, as we have seen in Spain, where admissions have increased 15-fold since the middle of July, and France, where they have trebled in the past month.
In other words, we are seeing the unavoidable effects of the reopening of shops and businesses, and the gradual return to work and school. It was always going to happen, but knowledge is one thing, cold, hard reality quite another. No wonder the Government is feeling slightly jittery, and that the mood music emanating from No.10 is somewhat ominous.
Indeed, such is the concern that, from Monday, the rules are to be tightened in England so that groups of just six people are allowed to gather indoors or out.
Just when the wondrous normality of life seems to be returning; when some theatres and cinemas have reopened and live sporting fixtures have welcomed fans; when the streets are again full of the chatter of children instead of silent and empty, Covid yanks our chain and reminds us who's boss.
Already, only days into the new term, a number of schools have sent scores of pupils and staff home to self-isolate for two weeks, in several cases on the strength of a single positive test.
But the truth is, the tables are beginning to turn. At the start of the pandemic, when we knew so little about this silent killer, we had hardly any choice but to dance to its tune.
It had us running from pillar to post, working by trial and error almost (I remember my husband scrambling to buy ventilators for the NHS, when, it turns out, ventilators can do more harm than good in a lot of cases), desperately trying to stem the tide of deaths.
But now, six months in, we are starting to get the measure of it.
Not only is testing becoming more reliable and more viable (something that undoubtedly is contributing to the rise in infection numbers), the protocol for dealing with the disease in vulnerable patients is much more streamlined and more effective.
We also understand more about how it works, and who is most vulnerable, so measures can be taken to protect both those at high risk and, by extension, the NHS.
None of this means the danger has passed. But there can be no such thing as a 'zero Covid risk', just as there is sadly no such thing as a zero cancer risk, or a zero risk of dying in a car accident. All we can do is mitigate.
Every death from coronavirus is a personal tragedy — but so is any death, whether it be from old age, disease, accident or, for that matter, any of the 25,000 cancers that Cancer Research UK estimates will have gone undiagnosed because of lockdown.
Just when the wondrous normality of life seems to be returning; when some theatres and cinemas have reopened and live sporting fixtures have welcomed fans; when the streets are again full of the chatter of children instead of silent and empty, Covid yanks our chain and reminds us who's boss (Pictured: Pedestrians walk along the busy shopping area of Oxford Street in London, Britain yesterday)
And the fact is that the number of deaths is now vanishingly small. At the beginning of this week, there were just 756 patients in hospital with Covid: on Monday, there were three deaths — out of a population of tens of millions.
Yet for most of yesterday we heard warning after warning from scientists and ministers that there could be a second spike on the way, that we have all relaxed too much (as if!), and that further lockdowns may be necessary. So what are we to think?
The challenge for politicians and for the country as a whole is to accept that Covid is just another risk that cannot be wholly eliminated — and learn to live with it in the safest way possible within the parameters of ordinary life.
To do otherwise would spell social and economic disaster for millions in the short to medium term — and undermine our vital services for years to come.
It's at times like these, when those in power face impossible decisions, that we see the true responsibilities that lie behind all that privilege.
Put simply, there are no good choices here, only less bad ones. Whatever you think about the Government's handling of the pandemic, that's a hard cross to bear.
With the exception of a few zealots, this is something most people understand. The onus is on us to act responsibly to ensure the Government does not feel forced into imposing a second lockdown.
Those who are vulnerable — the very old, the obese and those who have other comorbidities — must shield and be shielded.
As for the rest of us, however scared or nervous we may be, we have to find the courage to get back out there and get on with it.
We need to accept that — as generations before us have done in so many wars and natural disasters — there is no such thing as a completely risk-free existence.
That painful, personal sacrifice is the price we pay for living in a free and prosperous society. And that sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, stuff just happens.
I'll leave you with this thought, lifted from Jonathan Mayo's account of the Blitz (extracted this week in the Daily Mail), 80 years ago.
The death toll was devastating: more than 43,000 civilians were killed, 150,000 injured, in the course of just a few months. And yet at the height of the attacks, the capital's pubs were full: 'Jokes were made to relieve the tension, beer mugs were put down more noisily to shut out other sounds.
The Blitz spirit is evoked all too often these days, often through rose-tinted spectacles nostalgic for a mythical past that probably never quite existed. But sometimes it's worth reminding ourselves of what we have faced. And of what, as a nation, we are capable of when we all pull together.