Is Boris Johnson Scrooge dressed as Santa?
The timing of this lockdown was aligned with the ambition to “save Christmas”. With restrictions due to expire on December 2nd, the hope is that limited social contact throughout November will drive the R-number down to enable families to come together for the festive period. From a morale-boosting perspective there may be something in this approach. No doubt the government has also realised that “Saving Christmas” will buy them some popularity points. However, from an economic standpoint, the timing of this lockdown is far from thoughtful.In 2019, Christmas sales in the UK totalled £78bn… it seems bizarre to implement a lockdown during the most significant spending period of the year.
In 2019, Christmas sales in the UK totalled £78bn. The eight weeks running up to Christmas are the most lucrative of the year for retailers; non-food retail sales in the UK between Black Friday and Christmas in 2019, for example, totalled £23.3bn, almost double the rest of the year. Data from 2018-19 also indicates that 33% of Christmas spending occurs in November. This lockdown is therefore shutting off buyers’ access to brick and mortar shops during one of the most important sales periods of the season. Whilst many shoppers will turn to e-commerce, think of the effect this lockdown will have on small businesses, and the economic impact of the decline in spontaneous in-store purchasing. London’s West End is forecast to lose £2bn in sales during the run-up to Christmas, with warnings of a 62% decline in footfall in retailers across the UK. The UK economy grew by 15.5% from July – September as lockdown restrictions were eased. It therefore seems bizarre to implement a lockdown during the most significant spending period of the year. This lockdown must end as planned on December 2nd for the sake of the economy.
With the economic reasoning behind this lockdown rendered illogical, is it not also inconsistent to moralise lockdown, selling it as the ticket to a Christmas spent with family? Observants of Diwali this year were forced to celebrate over video calls without wider family celebrations. In addition, 43% of NHS trusts are still barring partners from maternity wards. This means that women are having to face ultrasounds and labour without the support of a partner. Surely there’s something wrong with lockdown being sold as a means to bring families together when so many individuals are being denied access to those special moments that can never be repeated.
The Case Fatality Rate for COVID-19 is similar to many other diseases that don’t receive nearly as much attention. The global CFR for Cholera is 1.8%… the COVID-19 CFR for people aged below 70 is less than 0.5%.
This lockdown is also illogical from a medical point of view. The Case Fatality Rate for COVID-19 is similar to many other diseases that don’t receive nearly as much attention. The global CFR for Cholera is 1.8%, and the CFR during the Influenza Pandemic in 2009 was roughly 0.5%. The COVID CFR has been decreasing since May and is now at 2.4%. More than 80% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people aged over 70. Based on the data from our dashboard, the COVID-19 CFR for people aged below 70 is less than 0.5%. As the economic damage of lockdown accelerates, surely this data demonstrates the minimal threat COVID-19 poses to the majority of the population and vouches for the logic in shielding the elderly and the vulnerable, thus allowing the economy to reopen.
Spoiled or saved, the government is mishandling COVID-19 and Christmas.