argument top image

How do we think about the UK lockdown debate? Show more Show less
Back to question

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented isolation measures throughout the world. One effect has been the creation of ideological blocs across traditional party lines, lobbying for different approaches to containing the virus. UK lockdown came into effect on March 23, shutting down non-essential business and movement outside the home, bar a single daily outing for exercise. Critics variously describe this decision as too late, too little, too much and overblown. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

The authoritarian position, or 'Do not lift lockdown!' Show more Show less

This approach is rooted in a belief that during crises, the state should centralise control of social and economic affairs. Proponents range from UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to an estimated 75% of the British public.
< (3 of 5) Next position >

Public health supersedes any other consideration during the pandemic

The fundamental role of the state is to protect its citizens. It is an aberration that anyone might argue economic growth should take precedence. As Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty has said, the only viable way out of this crisis is the discovery of a vaccine or a drug that will reduce transmission rates and impact. Any relaxation is dangerous, with the only known outcome being avoidable deaths.
Coronavirus Politics

The Argument

There is no question of comparing the value of the nation's health against economic growth. The two are incomparable. Lives are more important than cash.[1] The state has a responsibility towards preserving the lives of its citizens more than protecting the economy. If governments were to reopen the economy so soon, the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths would skyrocket. Most workplaces simply cannot guarantee 6 feet of social distancing for all employees. Minimum wage workers will be the most impacted by such working conditions. Since most of them lack adequate insurance or health literacy, death rates among them would surge upwards. The only time it would be safe to reopen the economy is when a vaccine or effective treatment against the disease is found. At the Imperial College of London, 300 people have already signed up to test a newly developed vaccine.[2] Volunteers are scheduled to get 2 shots every 4 weeks for an undetermined amount of time. These trials are proof that there is hope for a medical breakthrough. So, for the time being, it is wise to stay still and remain in quarantine.

Counter arguments

If reopening the economy is delayed any more than it already is, there are going to be devastating consequences. Unemployment in the UK has risen from 3.8% to 10%. [3] It is predicted that if the lockdown ends within 3 months, then the economy can still recover and unemployment can gradually drop. But, if the economy remains closed, then many businesses will simply incur too many expenses and would have to shut down. Shutting down their businesses would also mean firing many of their employees. Reopening the economy with proper and strict public health guidelines is the best way to go.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/26/coronavirus-us-economy-health-lives-trump
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53061288/source.html
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107870/uk-unemployment-forecast/source.html
This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 13:27 UTC

Explore related arguments