Ministers Believe Boris’s Freedom Day ‘Gamble’ has Paid Off

According to this morning’s Mail on Sunday, ministers privately believe that falling Covid infection levels in the U.K. – and rising cases on the continent – amount to a vindication of Boris Johnson’s decision to release lockdown restrictions earlier than European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, currently in the grip of surging infections.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about one in 60 people in England had Covid in the week to November 6th – down from one in 50 the previous week.

Government sources are pointing to the contrast with Germany, which is in the grip of a devastating fourth wave with the number of confirmed daily cases quadrupling in a month.

The Netherlands has returned to a three-week partial lockdown after its prime minister, Mark Rutte, said: “The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.”

The move was greeted by anger on the streets of The Hague on Friday night as demonstrators hurled stones, fireworks and bicycles.

Riot police retaliated by firing water cannon after warnings that hospitals would be overwhelmed without closing bars, restaurants and supermarkets early. Austria is also set to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people.

The UK is in a different position and yesterday Professor Neil Ferguson said Britain was “in quite a different situation from those European countries”.

The epidemiologist, dubbed Professor Lockdown for his modelling that influenced the first UK shutdown, added: “I think it is unlikely we will get anything close to what we had last year, that catastrophic winter wave.

“We might see slow increases as we did in October, for instance, but not anything as rapid as we saw last year.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he continued: “We can’t be complacent, but at the moment I don’t think we’ll be in a situation the Netherlands is coming into where they really do need to get on top of rising case numbers using social distancing. I very much hope we can avoid that in this country.”

Worth reading in full, although if Imperial’s answer to Mystic Meg is predicting clear skies it may be time to batten down the hatches.