Why lifting isolation may be fair for London but not for the North

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Boris Johnson is under pressure to quickly lift the lock in parts of the country and keep it in place in others.

It would mark a change from his approach so far. The government has insisted that the whole of England must slowly emerge from isolation.

The government also said restrictions could be reimposed in specific areas where there is an increase in cases of coronavirus, schools and businesses closing again in the affected cities. But it would come in the future, if any.

However, Johnson is increasingly asked to immediately adopt a regional approach.

The Gateshead Council has refused to spread the government’s new message “Stay alert” – and sticks to the old slogan “Stay home”.

The mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool area have also said that the lockdown changes announced last Sunday were a response to the situation in London, and may not be suitable for the north of England.

At the same time, there is some pressure on the government to speed up the easing of the lock in the south. Former Cabinet Minister Theresa Villiers, MP for London, said the low number of new cases in the capital “calls for further easing of the London foreclosure.”

And it seems the government is open to the idea of ​​changing its approach. Asked by Sky News if the government could allow regional changes, Cabinet Minister Brandon Lewis said, “It is still too early to tell. “



People in Whitley Bay on Saturday May 16 - the first weekend since the lockout restrictions were relaxed
People in Whitley Bay on Saturday May 16 – the first weekend since the lockout restrictions were relaxed

One of the reasons for this debate is that we now have estimates of the rate of reproduction of the virus in each region. This figure, known as R, tells us how many people, on average, a person infected with the virus transmits.

If R is greater than 1, the virus spreads exponentially. If R is less than 1, the number of people infected will decrease.

In London, R is estimated to be around 0.4, according to researchers from Public Health England and Cambridge University. But in North East and Yorkshire it is estimated at 0.8.

It makes a huge difference. In London, an estimated 23.9 people are now infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus every day, on average.

In North East and Yorkshire it’s 4,320 people a day.

It was different when this health crisis started. London was the hardest hit. And that explains why researchers believe that 20% of London’s population has had Covid-19, one in five, while the figure for North East and Yorkshire is 11%, just over one person in ten.

So the whole country suffered. But it is in London that the virus now seems, to some extent at least, to be under control. Can it really make sense to lift the lock all over England at the same time?

The introduction of regional rules would raise all kinds of problems. But it may be something the government should consider.

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