Are we set for an October lockdown?

Since March 2020, people, businesses, and governments across the globe have had to deal with the impacts of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions. And although the last few of those restrictions have now been lifted, there has been a growing number of experts revealing that another lockdown could happen in October. Business Leader investigates.

An increasing number of reports have stated that a potential ‘firebreak’ lockdown next month could be introduced in order to curb rising coronavirus infection rates. This would mean that many of the restrictions lifted over the past few months would be reinstated.

The plans for the October lockdown would see the autumn half-term extended by a week, in order to ease hospitalisations that could overwhelm of the NHS.

Earlier this month, a £5.4bn funding package was announced to help the NHS cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and tackle the mounting backlog of treatments and appointments. £1bn has been ring-fenced to tackle the coronavirus backlog, with a further £2.8bn help fund infection control measures and up to £500m will be used for hospital discharge programmes.

Boris Johnson’s government is considering the reintroduction of social distancing measures and a limit on social gatherings at work and in public spaces, meaning face coverings could potentially also make a return to everyday life.

The rumoured lockdown was initially revealed by the i newspaper, which warned that COVID-19 cases are set to reach ‘an extended peak’  in the near future.

The newspaper is a part of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

However, the Government has since denied the announcement made by i.

Further to this, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “The government is not planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term and restrictions would only be re-introduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”

However, at the end of October 2020, the UK had 16,479 COVID-19 infections and 1,461 hospitalisations. As of 31 August, the infections rates have more than doubled to 42,192, with 988 hospitalisations.

With winter and flu season ahead, SAGE experts revelaed to i that in a ‘worst case scenario’ where infections hit 100,000 a day, that is when the government may step in.

What do business leaders think of an October lockdown?

Simon Robinson, Director of global headhunting firm Red Diamond, was asked by Business Leader to provide an analysis on whether he would feel let down by the government if an October lockdown was announced.

He comments: “It would not let me down if a lockdown was to happen again in October, if it was for the right reasons. The NHS is a very important part of our society that supports people whenever they need it. We need to make sure there is capacity there for people’s needs. A lockdown would be inconvenient and I think a lot of people will be against it. I feel that we have moved on from lockdowns and to have another would affect a lot of people.

“The previous lockdowns were mentally taxing for a lot of people and the thought of going back in to one will affect many. Also, it would depend on the duration of the lockdown. Would one week be enough to make a difference? Would a month be the right length? However, I don’t think a month lockdown would go down well with many.”

Rob Vivian, CEO of telecoms provider PureComms was also asked his views on what a potential lockdown would mean for him.

He said: “If another lockdown was announced, I would feel let down by this government, but that’s probably more to do with their handling of the pandemic in general. I don’t feel entirely confident they know what they are doing so I would treat another lockdown with a certain scepticism.”

What impact would it have on the UK workforce?

Robinson then spoke to Business Leader on the negative impact another lockdown would have on employees who would not be able to work from the office again next month.

He said: “I am a believer in the office environment. People can interact and discuss ideas that simply don’t happen remotely in an ad-hoc manner. We should adopt a flexible approach where appropriate but let’s not forget the reason for working from home. Teams still need to be productive. I do feel long-term companies, that have adopted a remote work policy, will gravitate back to the office.”

What do you think?

Here at Business Leader, we want to know what you think about a potential ‘firebreak’ lockdown next month.

Please contact us via editor@businessleader.co.uk and we can include your comments in this article.

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