A LONG lockdown could lead to “community tensions” an the poor will be worst off, scientists warned.
Data from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee of Experts released today showed that any measures should be released gradually.
It said that keeping Brits locked up within their homes for extended periods of time could cause unrest.
“Prolongation or reintroduction of measures will also disproportionately affect those on low incomes, potentially leading to community tension,” the unveiled documents show.
At the time of the meeting, on April 1, experts said that there was currently a high level of compliance with the lockdown measures.
A daily YouGov poll commissioned by the Cabinet Office for 29 March showed that 84 per cent have stopped seeing members of their family and 91 per cent stopped seeing friends.
Those measures are likely to have reduced the R rate of transmission to below one, they speculated.
But compliance with the lockdown will only stay high if Brits think there is still a high risk, and people still feel able to shield themselves without being too bored, isolated or lose their jobs.
Strict measures can only be maintained “in the short to medium term”, it said.
In addition, introducing even tighter measures was likely to backfire because it would risk undermining support for the measures taken so far.
They should only consider a tighter lockdown if people stop obeying the rules and there’s a clear risk of overwhelming the NHS again.
Brits have been warned that social distancing measures may have to be kept in place on and off for up to a year, before a vaccine or a cure is found.
But that will have to be explained very clearly to the public who may be confused by mixed messages, SAGE experts said.
Any increase in infections and a second lockdown will be seen as a “serious failure” of the Government and trust would be lost.
That would mean Brits were even less likely to obey whatever rules are in place at the time.
It would be very inconvenient to stop and start activities like working, hiring and furloughing staff, and arranging childcare, the experts said.
Any changes will have to be clearly communicated to the public with an information campaign, and solid messaging.
The ‘Stay at Home’ slogan may soon have to be binned and replaced with another one to properly represent what’s going on.
Boris Johnson is to set out the roadmap for ending the lockdown later this week.
He is due to lay out how to get Britain back to school and work – and how to get the economy moving again.
No measures are due to be changed before the lockdown is lifted on May 7, however.
And any tweaks this week are likely to be very small.