May 27, 2020

Fathom Chart of the Day 27.05.2020: UK policy response to COVID-19 remains wide of the mark

by Fathom Consulting.

The UK policy response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been repeatedly wide of the mark. Consequently, the daily COVID-19 death toll as a proportion of the population is almost as high in the UK as Sweden, and higher even than in Brazil. That is despite the UK suffering a much larger contraction in economic activity than Sweden as restrictions in movement saw the economy grind to a halt. Sweden’s approach has been much less aggressive, with many fewer restrictions in place, while Brazil’s president has downplayed the virus and fired the country’s health minister after heavily criticising him for urging people to observe social distancing and to stay indoors. Survey data out this week suggest that confidence in the UK government has collapsed. To the extent that this might feed through into fewer people actually following the rules, controlling the outbreak may have just got a lot harder. Nevertheless, the UK government has continued to relax restrictions, with outdoor markets and car showrooms set to reopen at the start of June, followed by non-essential stores two weeks later. Already, the number of vehicles on the road has begun to normalise. Both rail and tube use remain stubbornly low, perhaps due to the difficultly of maintaining social distancing.


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