LOCKDOWN is over. Not officially. Not quite. But the dam is bursting.
The trickle back to work is turning into a flood. People are still keeping their distance, but they are taking their hard hats on the Tube, visiting garden centres, coffee shops, parks — and, best of all, reuniting with their families.
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When Boris Johnson returns from his sick bed on Monday, he must get ahead of this fast- moving curve. He needs to show he is back in charge.
The PM has plans, yet to be announced, for “non-essential” stores to open. Next will be schools. This will be the “new normal”. Perhaps they should never have been shut in the first place.
Polls show people will self-isolate, risk their jobs and keep indoors to save the NHS if asked — but not land their children and grandchildren with the bill.
They will endure a few more days of enforced sunshine but six weeks is long enough.
Britain’s death toll has passed 20,000 — among Europe’s highest but far below last month’s scary 500,000 worst-case scenario.
Lockdown has worked. It has taken pressure off the NHS. The “sombrero” curve has been flattened.
Crucially, we now have spare hospital capacity and, despite a shortage of protective equipment, our NHS frontline has avoided meltdown.
Yet we continue to hear the dismal dirge, “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”, to the muffled drums of the BBC and its throat-slitting Thought For The Day.
While some are breaking those rules, many more — especially the over-60s — are too terrified to poke their nose outdoors even if it’s safe.
So non-Covid hospital wards are empty and countless worried patients are missing life-saving treatment for cancer, kidney or heart disease.
Others in lockdown are prone to mental health problems, suicide and fast-rising domestic brutality. More might die because of lockdown than from Covid-19 itself.
The economy, meanwhile, is on life support. The UK “jobs miracle” is merely a memory. Some will leave lockdown to find their jobs gone, perhaps for ever.
The Treasury’s mammoth multi-billion support scheme will leave crippling long-term economic wounds.
One in four firms has stopped trading and Britain risks its worst economic slump in centuries.
We are not alone. The Eurozone is fighting for its life. We may be witnessing the end of the single currency, an event which would send seismic waves around the world.
No deal still on the table
THE furore over Covid-19 has temporarily eclipsed Brexit but the wrangle goes on.
Strutting peacock Michel Barnier, used to getting his own way with Theresa May, has yet to discover the game is up. He wants Britain to give Brussels the same powers over UK trade and fishing as if we were still a vassal state.
Barnier has yet to learn the shoe is on the other foot. Britain is now a sovereign trading nation.
Europe is a busted flush. We leave if necessary without a deal. End of story.
Russia, Nigeria and the Gulf states are being ravaged by the oil price collapse. Dirt-poor families in Africa and Asia — reliant on cash sent home by migrant children — are seeing those lifelines severed overnight.
In America, where Depression-style unemployment is close to 30million, the revolt against lockdown is already under way.
Lockdown is prolonging the worldwide agony. This email from Cambridge post office manager and Sun reader Rob Swift sums up the view of many baffled Sun readers. Rob says: “We allow customers in to match the number serving and everyone has PPE.
“At no point has anybody had symptoms or gone absent through coronavirus. We use our common sense then go home to our families before doing it all again the next day.
“Along with supermarkets, building sites and some small shops, we have been open throughout and at no point have cases risen to the extent we have had to close down.”
If lockdown continues for too long, many of those one- in-four firms which have already stopped trading will not reopen. High streets will look like a row of rotten teeth. Some school children will never catch up.
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On his first day back at work on Monday, the Prime Minister faces a tough challenge.
An early return to work will provoke left-wing charges that money means more than lives to the Tories. But livelihoods count too, whichever way you vote.
Boris is right to thank the NHS for saving his life. Now he must pass that gift on — and ensure the people of this country have a life worth looking forward to.
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