June 22, 2020
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Trust fund politicsTwo metres or not two metres, that is not the question. Tonight’s meeting of the C-19 Strategy Committee, chaired by Boris Johnson and attended by a handful of key cabinet ministers, is almost certain to have amended the 6ft 6in social distancing guidance that has dominated all our lives since late March.
Boris Johnson Could Come Unstuck if Unlockdown Fails The Trust Test
No, the real question is just whether the PM can retain public trust if he gets this big call wrong, and if he miscalculates just how quickly the UK should exit Coronavirus lockdown. The ‘comprehensive review’ of the 2m rule (now no longer even called a rule) has involved not just scientists and medics but, crucially, economists. Underlining this is ultimately a political decision, it’s the full Cabinet that is expected to rubber stamp it tomorrow.
‘Trust me, I’m a doctor’ - or rather ‘trust me, because I’m trusting the doctors’ - was the approach that worked extremely effectively, early in the pandemic. Matt Hancock talked a lot about ‘shielding’ tonight, but it’s the scientists who’ve acted as a human shield for this government so far.
And if the PM decides to host a No.10 press conference confirming the change, there will inevitably be questions for the boffins if they turn up to flank him. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has already paved the way for a change (thanks to an elastic definition of social distancing).
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty is in a slightly trickier spot. Not that long ago, he told us that the 2m rule, like hand washing, “good cough etiquette” and the use of face coverings “are going to carry on really for as long as this epidemic continues”. He may of course have meant ‘physical distancing of some kind of length’ would be a key element.‌
It could be that 2m will remain a benchmark for those without masks, but 1m will be the new normal for those with masks, thus sparing Sage’s blushes. The main priority for the PM and many Tory MPs is that key sectors of the economy like pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers should finally be allowed to open their doors again.
Johnson himself had a very telling phrase on Sunday as he discussed plans for the hospitality sector from July 4, declaring “we’re sticking absolutely like glue to the road map to the plan that I set out”. For some critics, that just proved this was about sticking to his timeline above all else, rather than a conditional, cautious approach.
As it happens, the PM didn’t stick like superglue or even velcro to his plan for getting ‘all’ primary school children back to school for a full month before the summer break. But abandoning the 2m rule will certainly help get more kids into the classroom just as it will help employers in several hard hit sectors.
At the press conference tonight, the most striking thing was just how both Hancock and deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries stressed the non-medical side of life. The health secretary revealed a decision on travel corridors would be made “in good time” even before the June 29 review deadline. Harries said children with mild asthma had a “very, very significant risk” of falling behind with their education, and “very, very low risk” of Covid.‌
Even for those shielding, Harries said the social interaction of “going to work and doing something purposeful, is really important for your ongoing health, and your economic and mental health as well”. At one point, she even used the PM’s own political terminology, referring to “the levelling up programme” of this government to help poorer areas hit by coronavirus.
But while summer pints, haircuts and holidays will cheer many, Harries herself also had a warning that she would be worried “if we get to the winter and people don’t continue to socially distance”. And even in savvy South Korea, there was bad news today as its own chief scientist revealed a new spike in cases. “We originally predicted that the second wave [would] emerge in fall or winter...Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people are having close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue,” Jung Eun-kyeong said.
If there’s a second spike this winter in the UK, the real casualty will be a further erosion of public trust in health messaging. A new YouGov poll today showed the voters still put health above the economy, with 69% saying the lives saved by the lockdown have been worth the economic and social disruption. Just 17% think that the disruption to the economy has not been worth it. Moreover, 74% of Brits say they’re fairly or very worried about a second wave here.
Focus group expert Deborah Mattinson had a fascinating finding the other week which should have caused deep unease among some of the PM’s team. Yes, Dominic Cummings’ conduct led to a big drop in public trust in government messaging. But the bigger drop had already happened a week earlier - when the PM himself suddenly changed the ‘Stay Home’ advice to the much less intelligible ‘Stay Alert’ mantra. The latest change to social distancing certainly carries the risk of political sunburn once the holiday season is over.Quote Of The Day“Based on the information that we had at the time our guidance was correct. That is not the same as saying we would do the same again.”
Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at DHSC, channels ‘Yes Minister’ when challenged on how patients were discharged in huge numbers to care homes.Monday Cheat Sheet2.2 million vulnerable people who have been shielding from coronavirus will be allowed to gather in groups of up to six people outdoors from July 6, Matt Hancock announced. From August 1, they won’t have to shield at all.
Priti Patel said that this weekend’s murders in Reading proved made “clear that the threat posed by lone actors is growing”. Since 2017 the UK security services have foiled 25 terrorist plots in total, including eight planned by the far right.
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) looks set to be re-established imminently, sources have told the BBC.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs he was consulting with exam regulator Ofqual about plans to delay exams in England next year, to give pupils more time to prepare. In French schools, the 1m social distancing rule was dropped today.What I’m ReadingEU Leaders Risking Second Wave Of Euroscepticism - CapXGot A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to waugh.zone@huffpost.com. Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.Related... Millions Shielding Will Be Allowed To Meet Friends And Family Outside From July 6 Boris Johnson 'Sticking' To Plan Of Reopening Pubs And Restaurants From July 4 Could Spitting Into A Tube Be More Accurate Than Coronavirus Swab?
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Julia Fox defends viral ‘Uncut Gems’ interview moment: ‘I was stoned’ | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
4m-p0_-ePd8
Alexia Echevarria pushed ‘RHOM’ producers to show more of son Frankie’s recovery | Page Six
February 17, 2022
E-wTaN9NfkI
Pete Davidson rejoins Instagram amid Kanye West drama | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
SsC3dmsI6t4
Aaron Rodgers And Shailene Woodley Reportedly Break Up | TMZ LIVE
February 17, 2022
FoErdRE8Qe4
Chet Hanks Done Talking About Famous Parents, Becoming Personal Trainer | TMZ
February 16, 2022
5_UrULOkQ6o
Woman Stabbed at Foot Locker During Nike Shoe Release
February 16, 2022
TfuXMs1JdVg
Steph's Freaky Side, "Summer House" & "Love During Lockup"
February 17, 2022
9W_raO0zlA8
Tay or Nay, Offset's Sushi Anxiety & Nick on Monogamy
February 17, 2022
PauYHpJRA6o
Kim Kardashian & North West TWINNING in Matching Pajamas | E! News
February 17, 2022
b-_Oib6R108
Adam McKay - Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
February 17, 2022
tYtzsHoOZzo
Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and the Cast of 'Uncharted' Talk Most Challenging Stunts
February 15, 2022
d3ksX-SKi8c
Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell on ‘The Adam Project’, ‘Deadpool’, and Possible ‘Star Wars’ Role
February 16, 2022
5TxJsbJr9Dk
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
04
May
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Playoffs
Seattle Sounders - Pumas
04
May
USA: Major League Soccer
FC Cincinnati - Toronto FC
03
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
02
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Brentford
02
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Fulham - Luton
02
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Real Betis
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach - RB Leipzig
02
May
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Salernitana
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Leicester City
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Mallorca
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Bologna
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Arsenal
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Chelsea
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Inter Milan
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Fiorentina
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Venezia
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Rayo Vallecano - Real Sociedad
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Mainz - Bayern Munich
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bochum
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Atletico Madrid
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Espanyol
30
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
28
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Chelsea
27
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Liverpool - Villarreal
27
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Inter Milan
26
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Manchester City - Real Madrid
25
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Juventus
24
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - AC Milan
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Everton
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - West Ham United
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Empoli - Napoli
23
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.