AFTER what has been seen by many as a long period of dithering, Boris Johnson announced on Monday evening that the UK would be one of the last European countries to go into some form of lockdown. Compared to here in Spain it may seem slightly watered down, with people allowed out once a day for “exercise” (with parks remaining open) and no clear news on travel restrictions. However, in a special broadcast across all the main TV and radio channels, Mr Johnson made it clear people would be expected to stay at home except for the various dispensations which are largely similar to those applied in other countries.
Clearly his plea for voluntary self-isolation had fallen on deaf ears, or at least enough people ignored the advice to force him into the next step. On Monday morning social and mainstream media was full of pictures of crowds packing the beach, parks, National Trust properties and shopping centres, with the closure of pubs merely driving people to other public spaces, encouraged by the good weather. As happened everywhere there is some initial clarification required on the finer details, not least what constitutes a key worker and how the once a day exercise rule is going to be policed in practice. Controversially clothing and leisure goods retailer Sports Direct claimed their staff were key workers, but soon relented after a backlash from the press and public. The UK had 355 deaths before implementing emergency measures while Italy had 463 and Spain 288. China had just 17 and New Zealand no deaths at all.