COVID-19 in UK: ‘There's a Lot of Doubt About Some of These Restrictions’, Says Analyst

© REUTERS / MOLLY DARLINGTONFILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk as the city and surrounding areas face local restrictions in an effort to avoid a local lockdown being forced upon the region, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manchester, Britain August 4, 2020
FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk as the city and surrounding areas face local restrictions in an effort to avoid a local lockdown being forced upon the region, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manchester, Britain August 4, 2020 - Sputnik International
Britain’s government has warned of "tougher measures" if people do not follow the new coronavirus restrictions drawn up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In a television broadcast, the prime minister urged citizens that "we must reserve the right to go further" if cases continue to rise.

Looking at the new measures that have been put in place in Britain, Sputnik spoke to analyst Keith Rowe, in this interview.

Sputnik: How significant are these new measures being put forward by the prime minister and his government?

Keith Rowe: I mean they're very significant measures; in many ways, they are quite an infringement on our civil liberties.

They tell us that we can't entertain people at home; they're telling us we can't go out and socialise in the way that we normally would. But I've got a bit of sympathy for the government here, because clearly this problem, this coronavirus, isn't going away and when they started loosening up the restrictions after the lockdown, and the lockdown did have some sort of effect, when they started loosening up those restrictions, clearly there's a resurgence of this virus and they really want to do something to stop it.

They've got to be seen to be doing something, they are the government, and we expect them to have some elements of control over everything to help us.

So, in many ways, I feel a bit sorry for Boris Johnson, he's been dealt a very tough hand as soon as he's taken over and it's a difficult call. Whether these restrictions in themselves will be enough, I don't know; I think there's a lot of doubt about some of these restrictions, a lot of people are expressing doubts about why we can go for a drink before 10 o'clock but we can't go for a drink after 10 o'clock and whether students in particular will take notice of it or whether they'll just go on somewhere else and privately drink and socialise. They've got to do something, that's the way it is.

Sputnik: Will the new measures be effective in reducing the surge of cases?

Keith Rowe: I think they're stabbing in the dark, to some extent, just trying to find measures that will work. They're trying to look at what other countries are doing, countries that may be slightly ahead of us in the progression of this disease, and they're saying "they've tried this, let's try it here. Let's see if that works". There's an awful lot of stabbing in the dark and I think there's a lot of things that won't work, but they're just trying to do something and in the meantime, I am worried about the infringement on our civil liberties.

A man walks past a signage in Liverpool City Centre as Merseyside remains under lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Liverpool, Britain September 22, 2020 - Sputnik International
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I am worried that the police will be knocking on doors and saying "hey, you're entertaining one too many people here; or you shouldn't have someone around at your home". If you're in Birmingham, as I am, we've got a complete moratorium on entertaining people at all at home. We're not supposed to have visitors in our houses at all and that's the same in other areas as well, but I don't think that's national yet. It's a great restriction on our liberties. If it doesn't work, then the government may feel that we have to go back into a full lockdown, and I think they really want to try and avoid that at all costs.

The costs of not only civil liberties, but the economic cost of that is massive, and I think they're doing whatever they can just to try and do something to lower this disease without us having to go back into a full lockdown. The cost of business at the moment is bad enough; if we go back into full lockdown - it's really crippling to a lot of people.

Sputnik: How do you imagine the public will react to these new measures? E.g., will they obey them or instead flout and ignore the rules? 

Keith Rowe: I think there are groups of the public that will say "we're law abiding, we've got to do whatever we can to try and stop this virus. Let's follow the government guideline. It's inconvenient, it's not nice, but let's follow the guidelines and do whatever we can to stop this virus".

There are other groups who really don't think it applies to them or think that they can bend or break all of the rules. I think as time goes on, the group that is getting weary of following the rules will grow, and I think there's a possibility that more and more people will be flouting these rules, which will of course, if the measures are good enough measures to stop the progression of the disease, then the greater the people that are flouting these measures means that the disease will potentially spread all the more.

So, I think if we've got the rules there, as much as we physically can, we should follow the rules with an eye to our civil liberties and hoping that this disease goes away very soon.

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