Posted on Mar 24, 2020
In a recent poll EUToday asked the question 'President Macron's government has described British government policy towards the coronavirus pandemic as one of "benign neglect". Do you agree?' 73.8% of respondents did agree.
The so-called 'draconian' measures brought in do include the long overdue closure of schools, shops, bars, restaurants and public spaces, but still allow thousands of air passengers to arrive at Heathrow airport from the hardest hit of nations - including Iran - without any checks whatsoever.
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Members of the public who flout the rules on public assembly face police action. Given that Britain's police lack the resources, or apparently even the will, to even investigate many crimes - indeed most household burglaries go uninvestigated - it is unlikely that this threat will deter crowds from gathering en masse as seen this past weekend. Photographs of police officers breaking up a barbecue are nothing more than laughable when compared with images of commuters packed into train carriages like sardines.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has extolled the virtues of working from home, a concept that he has personally embraced. At the same time, blaming staff for being sick he has failed to lay on a full service of trains on the London Underground, leading to massive overcrowding.
Aslef union's district organiser Finn Brennan tweeted: "Still heavy loading on some Tube lines this morning making social distancing impossible... This is endangering the health of the vital workers who have to use the system."
He called on the government to act, adding: "Drivers and other frontline staff are furious".
Whilst in some European countries there are some signs that the number of reported cases is flatlining - the first glimmer of hope - the prime minister appears to have procrastinated and dithered, often sending out inconsistent messages.
Indeed, at the time of writing London appears to be the next epicentre of the pandemic, along with Milan and Madrid. In the UK as a whole deaths have risen from 71 last Tuesday (17th March) to 424 by midnight on the 24th. At this rate of increase, fatalities from the virus could reach around 5,000 by this time next week, and 60,000 within a fortnight. At this point the NHS will have totally collapsed.
London's Excel centre is being hurriedly converted to a makeshift hospital with the help of the military. It will consist of two wards, each of which will accommodate 2,000 patients. The above statistics suggest that this may prove little more than a futile gesture.
Today alone (March 25th), flights will arrive at Heathrow from coronavirus hotspots Madrid (14.00, 17.50, 19.05) Milan (15.20) and Rome (16.00, 19.10). Disembarking passengers will leave the airport unchecked, many heading straight for the London Underground.
Boris Johnson, in his handling of his own internal party issues, as well as the Brexit negotiations, may well have displayed Churchillian tendencies, but events have been unkind to him, and he may be remembered as a modern day King Canute, unable to stop the tide.
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