The British government continues to demonstrate indecisive leadership over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as demonstrated by its inability to enforce a strict lockdown.
The government’s instructions to people to stay indoors and avoid public transport is merely advisory, but there are signs that may be about to change.
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, told Sky News the government is contemplating “tougher action” to bring people to heel.
The call for tougher action is an implicit admission that the government’s soft approach on the issue has failed to deter people from mixing in public spaces, particularly by using public transport.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, ordered all cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants and gyms closed on March 20 “for the foreseeable” as part of a broader effort of switching from a policy of “mitigation” to one of virus “suppression”.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Jenrick claimed the government still prefers to avoid following European states, such as Italy, Spain and France, which are enforcing military-style lockdowns.
“We want to live in a free society where we can continue to go about activities while continuing to follow the medical advice”, Jenrick said.
But he was also cautious to add that “this isn’t a game, this is very serious; people need to follow that [the government] advice”.
Jenrick ended the interview with a warning that if people continue to ignore official advice then the government will “have to consider other options”.
Jenrick’s tough words and warnings unfold against a broader context of government indecision and half-hearted approach to adopting a tough virus suppression strategy.
The PM continues to refuse to adopt tougher measures in London, for instance by shutting down the capital’s underground system, let alone quarantining the metropolis, which is home to nearly nine million people.