January 20, 2021

Coronavirus: UK’s already huge changes may just be the start

Things have changed in just a few days in ways that would normally take years to evolve.

Whitehall had been monitoring and fearing the arrival of the coronavirus on these shores for many weeks.

But when Boris Johnson told us not so long ago that we would face a significant challenge from coronavirus, who could have imagined how the mounting cases of the disease in the UK would touch nearly every aspect of our lives?

Now, after a frenetic few days in Westminster, the government machine is working at breakneck speed to manage the health service, and drastically improve its capacity; it has made a huge decision to close schools that will affect millions of families’ daily lives and the education of a generation of children; it has provided what could be a temporary bridge, or evolve into a permanent bailout of huge chunks of the economy; negotiated new arrangements, or is in the middle of doing so with the insurance industry, the supermarkets, the travel and aviation industries, and tonight the Treasury is frantically trying to design a new method of providing welfare to those who need it and financial support to businesses struggling to keep afloat and keep paying wages.

And that really may only be the start.

Bill to deal with virus outbreak published
The idea of a protracted policy process of vague green papers, setting out policy, then white papers, setting out drafts of new laws, then Parliament chewing over legislation for months seems like something from another world now.

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