Boris Johnson Looking at Post-Christmas Lockdown for the UK

The omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an alarming speed in the United Kingdom. 90,418 COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.K. on Saturday, with 125 deaths within four weeks of a positive coronavirus test.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised not to shut the country down, but it’s looking more and more unlikely that he’ll be able to keep that promise. There have been leaks from 10 Downing Street suggesting that a Boxer Day (December 26) lockdown of 10 days is growing more likely.

While the omicron variant is less lethal than the alpha or delta variant, it’s concerning due to the amazing speed at which the virus is spreading.

New York Post:

During an appearance on the BBC Sunday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid cautioned there are “no guarantees” amid “uncertainty” of avoiding imminent precautions when asked if he would rule out a pre-Christmas “circuit breaker.”

“There are no guarantees in this pandemic,” he said on “The Andrew Marr Show.” “At this point, we just have to keep everything under review.”

“We are assessing the situation, it’s very fast-moving. We’ve seen with Omicron there’s a lot that we still don’t know about Omicron,” Javid added. “That’s the truth of the matter. The reality is there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

The Netherlands has already locked down. The sudden announcement by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday took the nation by complete surprise.

Shopping streets in the Netherlands were closed and people’s Christmas plans were in disarray as the country began a lockdown aimed at limiting an expected COVID-19 surge.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the sudden shut-down on Saturday evening, ordering the closure of all but the most essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from Sunday until at least January 14.

Naturally, the heavily unionized workforce turned to their friends in government for relief.

Hospitality workers demanded compensation for lost income in the holiday season, while gym owners stressed the importance of exercise during a health crisis.

“Closing all bars and restaurants in such an important month is incredibly painful and dramatic. We need compensation and an exit strategy”, the Dutch association for hospitality services said.

Whatever happened to “We’re all in this together”?

The problem is the extraordinary speed with which the omicron variant is moving. The WHO estimates that infections are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread. So even though the vaccine gives partial protection against omicron, the sheer number of infected people is expected to overwhelm hospitals in a matter of weeks.

We’ve seen in the past that lockdowns are not effective at preventing disease, and it’s debatable whether they slow the spread of the virus at all. The answer is taking the necessary precautions if you’re vulnerable to serious illness and avoiding contact with other people until the wave passes.

But that’s not good enough for most governments. There will be lockdowns in Europe, but not here in the U.S. Biden knows the people wouldn’t stand for it and the economy couldn’t handle it.

Biden will go on TV on Tuesday night to talk about the omicron variant and reassure us that he’s handling the problem. He’ll take steps that will sound dramatic but actually accomplish little or nothing. He’ll urge the schools to stay open, even though his friends in the teacher’s unions are already working to shut them down.

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The one blessing is that it appears that the omicron variant is moving so quickly that it will run out of people to infect and peter out. That would be the most effective COVID-19 mitigation strategy, and the government wouldn’t even have to do anything.

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