-How to save the economy under lockdown?
The U.K. government has extended the lockdown for another three weeks at a time when the U.K. death toll from the novel coronavirus is fast approaching 20,000. However, the number of those who would like to grill the Conservative government on its approach to the outbreak in the country is also swelling.
According to a recent poll, 56% of the British public believe China failed to report the true impact of the outbreak when it first appeared in the Wuhan province several months ago.
Most government sources and national media outlets have correlated the large number of victims who died in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals reflecting the scale of this sudden global pandemic and the country’s lack of preparedness.
Some critics also accuse the government of its slow response and belated measures to curtail the pandemic with a death toll that in a few days is set to cross the psychological threshold of 20,000. Several government scientific advisers have highlighted the probability of reaching such high numbers and the mood in Britain is now turning against the government.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington said the U.K. could see as many as 66,000 deaths by August but later revised the figure down to 37,000 – still far more than the projected threshold of 20,000.
In March, scientists at Imperial College London said that more than 250,000 Britons could die from the coronavirus if no restrictions on people’s movements were put in place, prompting the government to announce a lockdown.
The death toll as of Sunday, April 19, was 16,060 and most of the fatalities are thought to be elderly. The country’s lockdown has been extended for three more weeks, during which the death toll is very likely to rise further.
In the event of a three-month lockdown in the U.K., the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said on Tuesday that the government’s borrowing would rise from £218 billion to £273 billion in 2020-21 taking the budget deficit to 14% of gross domestic product -- the highest since the second world war and well above the financial crisis peak of 10%, according to the Financial Times.
Big chains including Carluccios, Clarks, Oasis, Warehouse and Debenhams all went into administration over the last few weeks. The main problem for the U.K. is in judging the right time to come out of the lockdown to restart the already fragile economy due to Brexit talks in the upcoming weeks but this will require herculean efforts to get the country back on track.