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Heading into autumn - what next?

yorksrob

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Being on the side of more restrictions is a no brainer for any party in opposition, since the case can be made that they are only necessary as a result of the government’s failure.

Alternatively, they could argue that the Government is exacerbating the situation by imposing counterproductive, draconian restrictions.

Excellent news if the Government is planning to repeal the Coronavirus act in the near future.
 
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LondonExile

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I have posted this in the support conversation thread, but it is also worth posting it here.

The Telegraph is reporting that Boris Johnson is preparing to repeal significant parts of the legislation in the Coronavirus act which allows the government to:-
  • Close schools and pubs
  • Detain "infectious" people
  • Make restrictions on gatherings
The government will publish its "Winter COVID Plan" this coming week, so we will have to wait for the detail.

But if this turns out to be true, it is encouraging to see that over the winter we will not be living under such significant restrictions as in the past.


This is probably not as important as you think it is.

There are two acts of parliament in England and Wales that are relevant here - The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, and the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The 1984 act gives ministers carte blanche to make "Health Protection Regulations" - which is how lockdowns, restrictions on gathering, mask requirements, self isolation etc. have all been brought into law.
The 2020 act has the powers you mention - but to my knowledge they have never been used. Bear in mind this law was written in a hurry with no firm idea of how they were going to react to the pandemic as it unfolded.

Removing chunks of the Coronavirus Act doesn't prevent them from re-introducing lockdowns in exactly the same fashion as they've done before in England and Wales using the 1984 Act.

To put it in a railway context - imagine they said they were repealing the Regulation of Railways Act 1889; leaving the Byelaws in place, and prosecuting deliberate evasion under the Fraud Act. This article would then be the equivalent of the media reporting it as "All Fare evasion decriminalised!"

The pieces of the Coronavirus Act 2020 that aren't just superfluous text on the statute books are the provisions to allow the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Ministers to bring in Health Protection Regulations, and the numerous administrative bits and pieces that aren't that controversial, but required primary legislation (e.g. postponing local elections, or authorising the Treasury commissioners to sign documents individually rather than collectively)

It may be a useful insight into Government thinking - but legally, repealing these chunks is a non-event.
 

Yew

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Hmmm, I'm not sure that this view of the intent of the scientists etc. is so true. Browsing Twitter today, I found a thread from a Danish behavioural scientist (Michael Bang Petersen) celebrating yesterday's lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions - see https://twitter.com/M_B_Petersen/status/1436193837744107523?s=20 for the thread with responses, and https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1436193837744107523.html for a consolidated view. I quote it in full at the bottom (with embedded images removed), but his emphasis on trust in government, transparent communications, collective buy-in, and avoiding polarisation all resonated with me, and made me wonder whether the positive feedback loop he describes is the inverse of the vicious circle we've seen here. Looking at relative case numbers over the last 6 months shows the difference such an approach can make, considering it both with the UK, Sweden, the wider EU, and the Tasman Sea zero Covid pair:
It's worth considering that the graph does not normalise by the amount of testing being done. However it's useful to allow comparisons of the trends, as long as we take the absolute values with a sizable amount of salt.
 

MikeWM

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It may be a useful insight into Government thinking - but legally, repealing these chunks is a non-event.

Most of which is entirely true, yes, and people do need to understand the difference between the PHA 1984 and the CV 2020 Acts and what happens under each. Indeed, lockdowns, masks and all the rest don't need - and haven't used - the CV Act at all. We do urgently need reform of the PHA 1984 Act to prevent it being used in the way it has.

The proposal to repeal Schedules 21 and 22 of the CV Act does matter, though, and it would be very nice to be rid of them.

Schedule 21 contains some rather unpleasant powers regarding detention of 'potentially infected' individuals that go beyond what is in the PHA.

Schedule 22 contains all manner of powers regarding restrictions on premises and events, which could have been used to introduce 'vaccine passports', without even a vote! Indeed, this was Sturgeon's plan. If the Scottish part of 22 is repealed, she'll need a new plan.
 

35B

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From the second of those threads:



I fundamentally disagree with the premise of the first sentence which takes as a given that we should view reducing deaths from Covid, an endemic virus with a low death rate, as more important than continuing to live in what most of us would regard as a free society.

The rest essentially boils down to a self congratulatory spiel which can be summed up as : “we didn’t need more restrictions, because we manipulated the population into doing what we wanted them to anyway”:



My personal view of the U.K. government’s approach is that a much lighter-touch approach should have been taken, with far fewer (if ahard legal restrictions, and more emphasis on individual choice and responsibility, even if that led to more deaths directly attributed to Covid.

By all means encourage the vulnerable to isolate, encourage social distancing, but measures such as forcing businesses to close and placing legal restrictions on the ability of individuals to associate to a greater extent than was seen even during WW2 was quite simply a massive overreaction, and one which was mostly borne out of cowardice and political weakness.

Rather than terrifying the population into submission with alarmist nonsense around “staying safe”, and imposing measures such as masks purely for theatre, I would have preferred the government to get on board with instilling stoicism, a “blitz spirit”, and being more honest about the reality that, whatever we do, this pandemic is sadly going to lead to many deaths, but that we will get through it, and we *cannot* abandon our democratic values and way of life.

That said we are where we are, and I admire the Danish approach of stating that the virus is no longer a “societal threat”. This is the kind of messaging the U.K. government could do well to adopt, rather than yet more mixed messages and weasel words from Boris who we all know is as clueless as any of us is about what direction he and his government will be taking over the next few weeks and months.
I fundamentally disagree on the appropriateness of the response, because the spread and severity of Covid was sufficiently high that it was both a disruptive risk in itself, and seriously undermined the ability of public services to function - not just the NHS.

Taking that disagreement as read, I note that the Danes are at a point where a "societal threat" has ceased to be one, following a course of action. I find this a really powerful demonstration of the good intent of public bodies faced with Covid, and to give the lie to the suggestion that it's all some form of power grab.

How did you reach that conclusion? He certainly hasn't behaved like one over the last 18 months.
It's amazing what the responsibilities of power do to curb politicians' instincts - there are many would say that his failure to curb his libertarian instincts is why lockdowns were delayed, and possibly why he ended up in an ICU. However, I agree - he is basically libertarian in his views, and always has been.

It's worth considering that the graph does not normalise by the amount of testing being done. However it's useful to allow comparisons of the trends, as long as we take the absolute values with a sizable amount of salt.
I agree, and I also take precise count comparisons with a sizable pinch of salt given the differing methodologies. However, I do find both trends and relative scale of interest - a few percentage points here or there, and I'd agree that testing may well be a factor. But when there's a multiple of three, that suggests something about scale.
 
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MikeWM

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The Government have published their 'plan' for autumn/winter, which can be found here

https://assets.publishing.service.g...D-19-response-autumn-and-winter-plan-2021.pdf

Basically things stay as they are for now, with booster vaccinations.

However, 'if things get bad', we have plan B, which basically consists of:

- 'Vaccine passports' in some locations (what a shock - they haven't really gone away at all)
- Return of mandatory masking in some places (what a surprise)
- Return to working from home

Hurray!
 

Cdd89

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While none of those things are remotely desirable (nor are they likely to be very effective), I am reassured that we are at least not talking in terms of business closures or travel restrictions as part of “plan B”.
 

duncanp

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While none of those things are remotely desirable (nor are they likely to be very effective), I am reassured that we are at least not talking in terms of business closures or travel restrictions as part of “plan B”.

I think the key thing is exactly what is meant by "..unsustainable pressure on the NHS..", which Sajid Javid has said will be the trigger for Plan B.

"..Unsustainable pressure on the NHS.." can mean different things to different people, and it is likely that the NHS will be "..under pressure.." this winter, as it usually is.

Also, the government will need to consider whether any of the measures in "Plan B" are actually going to make any difference, or whether they are a "communal comfort blanket" to make people "feel safe".

Still it is encouraging that the government are not going to implement vaccine passports for now at least, and they view lockdowns (ie. business closures and stay at home orders) as a very last resort if all else fails.

And at last they are going to simplify the rules for international travel, to stop people being ripped off by cowboy private test providers.

I guess we will have to wait and see how it all pans out.

How long before the "SAGE scientists" start whining and moaning and prostituting themselves all over the media demanding that the government introduce compulsory masks?
 

bramling

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The Government have published their 'plan' for autumn/winter, which can be found here

https://assets.publishing.service.g...D-19-response-autumn-and-winter-plan-2021.pdf

Basically things stay as they are for now, with booster vaccinations.

However, 'if things get bad', we have plan B, which basically consists of:

- 'Vaccine passports' in some locations (what a shock - they haven't really gone away at all)
- Return of mandatory masking in some places (what a surprise)
- Return to working from home

Hurray!

Wonderful. So there’s now the perfect mechanism for people with an ulterior motive to shout out “things are getting bad”, and in return they get another 9 months working at home / going to the beach every day.
 

big_rig

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As they say, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and this one certainly looks to be no exception. I don't see how these measures would make any difference in the face of rising cases. I don't think vaccine passports when 90% of the eligible population have taken it up anyway and they would apply to very limited situations (not saying they’re a good thing), masks (lol) and working from home which most people will still be doing anyway to be honest would have any impact if things 'get bad.'
 
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MikeWM

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As they say, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and this one certainly looks to be no exception. I don't see how these measures would make any difference in the face of rising cases. I don't think vaccine passports when 90% of the eligible population have taken it up anyway, masks (lol) and working from home which most people will still be doing anyway to be honest would have any impact if things 'get bad.'

Indeed - if things do get 'bad' (for whatever version of 'bad' you wish to use that 'requires' moving to 'plan B') then I'd fully expect a rapid collection of restrictions to be imposed in quick succession (without waiting to see if the previous ones have worked), just like last autumn, probably ending up in more-or-less a full lockdown again.
 

bramling

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Indeed - if things do get 'bad' (for whatever version of 'bad' you wish to use that 'requires' moving to 'plan B') then I'd fully expect a rapid collection of restrictions to be imposed in quick succession (without waiting to see if the previous ones have worked), just like last autumn, probably ending up in more-or-less a full lockdown again.

Unfortunately I have a feeling that’s exactly what’s going to happen. With the way the media is so utterly pro talking this up (I hesitate to say pro restriction as it’s a bit more nuanced than that), and enough people being warm to the concept, it won’t take much of an increase in cases to make the government go frit. Especially if this is accompanied by the usual NHS winter pressures.

Who knows when, but I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if we don’t get to next June without some form of the familiar “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” routine.
 

big_rig

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911A7263-847C-4078-B789-4D0A8755AB6A.jpeg

SAGE have released their latest round of modelling, the 'Consensus Statement of SPI-M.' In it they have reflected on their previous abject failures of modelling and decided that they should still continue to pump out a 'medium term projection' of what appears to be anywhere between 7,000 - infinite hospitalisations per day in four weeks time.

I genuinely struggle to think of a more demented and unreflective group of people in human history except for perhaps the Soviet or North Korean high commands, and unlike SAGE most of them were acting under pain of death. As a reminder the greatest ever number of daily hospital admissions recorded so far has been just over 4,000, approximately one month after the very first coronavirus vaccine was administered in the UK. Since that there have been 80 odd million of the things.

SPI-M-O groups have reflected on their modelling of Step 4 of the Roadmap, and despite unexpected falls in cases in mid-July 2021, these scenarios can still be used to consider the future autumn and winter trajectory.

 

102 fan

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Who else thinks this will now become a regular feature every September?
 

yorksrob

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View attachment 102620

SAGE have released their latest round of modelling, the 'Consensus Statement of SPI-M.' In it they have reflected on their previous abject failures of modelling and decided that they should still continue to pump out a 'medium term projection' of what appears to be anywhere between 7,000 - infinite hospitalisations per day in four weeks time.

I genuinely struggle to think of a more demented and unreflective group of people in human history except for perhaps the Soviet or North Korean high commands, and unlike SAGE most of them were acting under pain of death. As a reminder the greatest ever number of daily hospital admissions recorded so far has been just over 4,000, approximately one month after the very first coronavirus vaccine was administered in the UK. Since that there have been 80 odd million of the things.




I really hope that during the inevitable public inquiry, SAGE are castigated for their modelling failures.
 
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seagull

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SAGE have released their latest round of modelling, the 'Consensus Statement of SPI-M.' In it they have reflected on their previous abject failures of modelling and decided that they should still continue to pump out a 'medium term projection' of what appears to be anywhere between 7,000 - infinite hospitalisations per day in four weeks time.

I genuinely struggle to think of a more demented and unreflective group of people in human history except for perhaps the Soviet or North Korean high commands, and unlike SAGE most of them were acting under pain of death.

And I genuinely struggle to think of a better way of describing my thoughts about that bunch of fearmongers, too. So thanks for saving me the trouble :)
 

philosopher

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SAGE have released their latest round of modelling, the 'Consensus Statement of SPI-M.' In it they have reflected on their previous abject failures of modelling and decided that they should still continue to pump out a 'medium term projection' of what appears to be anywhere between 7,000 - infinite hospitalisations per day in four weeks time.
After reading the SAGE document, there are two things that have I picked out:
1) They effectively admit their modelling for the summer was way to pessimistic and they struggle to explain it. So why would anyone believe their more pessimistic predictions this time round.
2) If home working is so effective in reducing cases, why has Scotland, where it has remained advised throughout the summer had its highest level of cases in the past few weeks, while England, where that advice has been removed, cases have only increased slightly.
How long before the "SAGE scientists" start whining and moaning and prostituting themselves all over the media demanding that the government introduce compulsory masks?
It is pretty clear from the SAGE document that they want the ‘minor‘ measures of working from home advice restored, compulsory masks and the return of isolation of all contacts regardless of vaccination status. So I think it is pretty much guaranteed some of them will turn up on TV demanding such measures.
 

Darandio

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SAGE have released their latest round of modelling, the 'Consensus Statement of SPI-M.' In it they have reflected on their previous abject failures of modelling and decided that they should still continue to pump out a 'medium term projection' of what appears to be anywhere between 7,000 - infinite hospitalisations per day in four weeks time.

There is only one word for the motivation behind SAGE now and it's sinister. Taking advantage of their lofty profile and repeatedly plucking a horrific number seemingly out of thin air whilst knowing full well that the media will lap it up and weaponise it against the public to scare them back into submission.

The problem is there will be many people all too happy to ignore previous failures in their modelling, it's scary what some crayons on graph paper can do to them.
 

DustyBin

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There is only one word for the motivation behind SAGE now and it's sinister. Taking advantage of their lofty profile and repeatedly plucking a horrific number seemingly out of thin air whilst knowing full well that the media will lap it up and weaponise it against the public to scare them back into submission.

The problem is there will be many people all too happy to ignore previous failures in their modelling, it's scary what some crayons on graph paper can do to them.

I’ve used some fairly strong terminology to describe certain members of SAGE and pretend-SAGE (within the bounds of forum rules of course!) and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. Surely these charlatans can’t be the best we have, can they?
 

brad465

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I agree, but I also think the politicians will lose their nerve, and default to "more of the same". Especially with a PM who now seems to be more fussed with outserving Thatcher than anything else.
His own party might have a few things to say about that one day, especially if the talk of the 1.25% NI hike (or rebrand) is the undoing like the poll tax was for Thatcher, but that's another story.
The Government have published their 'plan' for autumn/winter, which can be found here

https://assets.publishing.service.g...D-19-response-autumn-and-winter-plan-2021.pdf

Basically things stay as they are for now, with booster vaccinations.

However, 'if things get bad', we have plan B, which basically consists of:

- 'Vaccine passports' in some locations (what a shock - they haven't really gone away at all)
- Return of mandatory masking in some places (what a surprise)
- Return to working from home

Hurray!
Unless I've missed something, I've not heard any concrete plans and updates on delivery of increasing/improving healthcare capacity to cope with future issues, whether covid and/or anything else, the very reason we locked down 3x. It's been 18 months since the pandemic started, which may not be enough time to fully recruit shortfalls in nurses and build more space, but progress will have been possible in that time.

Whatever the case, as our increasing population increasingly ages, demand is only going to increase, so more capacity will be needed long term.

There is only one word for the motivation behind SAGE now and it's sinister. Taking advantage of their lofty profile and repeatedly plucking a horrific number seemingly out of thin air whilst knowing full well that the media will lap it up and weaponise it against the public to scare them back into submission.

The problem is there will be many people all too happy to ignore previous failures in their modelling, it's scary what some crayons on graph paper can do to them.
I'm minded to start reminding people of SAGE's sexist remarks last Christmas to try and highlight their out of touch thinking and would encourage others to do the same (while I was getting sceptical of our approach a couple of months before Christmas, what they said here was what stopped me taking SAGE seriously):


"Women carry the burden of creating and maintaining family traditions and activities at Christmas.
"Messaging should be supportive of women adapting traditions and encouraging those around them to share the burden and to be supportive of any alterations to adapt for Covid-19 restrictions."
 

bramling

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I’ve used some fairly strong terminology to describe certain members of SAGE and pretend-SAGE (within the bounds of forum rules of course!) and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. Surely these charlatans can’t be the best we have, can they?

I agree with the above, and it’s quite clear there are hidden agendas at work, however we need to be wary of focussing too much on SAGE. They are merely an advisory body, and even the likes of Whitty has intimated on several occasions that the final decisions need to be a political one. We have a circus-clown PM who doesn’t do detail, and flaps with the slightest puff of wind. He is the one supposed to consider the big picture, and as well as including the consequences of decisions into his thought process, he should also be analysing and challenging what gets presented to him from SAGE.

Some time around now there should have been a powerful address to the nation, along the lines of “look we’ve been debilitated by this for two years now, mental health and well-being are suffering and we’re about to go into winter, we have to take a deep breath and not let this take any more of our lives”.

Instead we get some vague rubbish about masks and WFH, simply to placate a particular (small but vocal) subset of the population, and a bizarre row about child vaccinations. Starmer should also grow a pair and start acting as an official opposition should, instead of simply lobbing stones from a glass house.

Meanwhile, have we heard from anyone within the NHS regarding how *they* plan to cope with winter? Seems to be a conspicuous silence there, and whilst the population is busy worshipping the NHS as some kind of hero organisation those responsible for planning and organising delivery of the service aren’t being held to account.
 
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Smidster

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Anybody want to set the Over / Under on when we go to plan B - There really is no doubt that we will.

I will go for October 24th - just before the Spending Review
 

MikeWM

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Unless I've missed something, I've not heard any concrete plans and updates on delivery of increasing/improving healthcare capacity to cope with future issues, whether covid and/or anything else, the very reason we locked down 3x. It's been 18 months since the pandemic started, which may not be enough time to fully recruit shortfalls in nurses and build more space, but progress will have been possible in that time.

Well, indeed not - except for the extra tax of course. I remember saying exactly this last September/October and a lot of people pointing out that you couldn't build up capacity in 6 months. Well, maybe, maybe not - but how about 18, where we are now? 30, when we go through this all again next winter? At what point do we stop accepting this?

Esther McVey pointed out in the Commons today that we're actually 6,000 hospital beds down (!) since this started. I'm not sure what is more alarming - that fact, or that I'm approvingly quoting Esther McVey :-/
 

bramling

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Anybody want to set the Over / Under on when we go to plan B - There really is no doubt that we will.

I will go for October 24th - just before the Spending Review

The two likely times to watch I would guess are just before the October half-term, or just before Christmas.

My big hope is that furlough ends at the end of this month and doesn't get extended. Getting shot of that will really help, but it does nothing about the workfromhomes unfortunately.
 

Reliablebeam

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The cynic in me would say that the lack of criteria and/or triggers for plan b or lockdowns give the government enough wriggle room to move with the public sentiment, which could in principle move either way. Javid certainly got an angry reception in the commons.

Interestingly the plan was recieved quite well by some of the Torygraph op-ed writers, which surprised me - most of the regulars there have been on the rage side for the past 18 months...
 

DustyBin

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I agree with the above, and it’s quite clear there are hidden agendas at work, however we need to be wary of focussing too much on SAGE. They are merely an advisory body, and even the likes of Whitty has intimated on several occasions that the final decisions need to be a political one. We have a circus-clown PM who doesn’t do detail, and flaps with the slightest puff of wind. He is the one supposed to consider the big picture, and as well as including the consequences of decisions into his thought process, he should also be analysing and challenging what gets presented to him from SAGE.

Some time around now there should have been a powerful address to the nation, along the lines of “look we’ve been debilitated by this for two years now, mental health and well-being are suffering and were about to go into winter, we have to take a deep breath and not let this take any more of our lives”.

Instead we get some vague rubbish about masks and WFH, simply to placate a particular (small but vocal) subset of the population, and a bizarre row about child vaccinations. Starmer should also grow a pair and start acting as an official opposition should, instead of simply lobbing stones from a glass house.

Meanwhile, have we heard from anyone within the NHS regarding how *they* plan to cope with winter? Seems to be a conspicuous silence there.

I can’t say I disagree with any of this!
 

yorksrob

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The question that these data analysts from SAGE need to answer, is that if the vaccine is continuing to prevent severe illness, where are all of these hospitalisations supposedly going to come from ?
 

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