Lots of talk about “the four tests”- but in reality, they’re quite vague, their calculation could be made in several different ways. And the government hasn’t given detail on exactly what they’re looking for. Given that, wonder how immovable the dates will be, in practice.
Lots of briefing about this being a “data not dates” approach but short of major surges or new variant which causes the same, I suspect in practice it’ll be the dates, not the data metrics which have been set out, which we’ll remember and which will (largely) set the framework.
In reality you can argue tests 1 and 2 have already been met and likely will continue to be, it's really about tests 3 and 4 in the future and with test 3 in particular, it's not clear what the thresholds involved might be, what it is govt would be looking for.
Several Tory MPs have now pressed PM as to what the exact data criteria are behind the four tests. Johnson says they can see what's been published today. But unless I've missed it, nothing which has been published significantly expands on those tests.
The point is what is an acceptable level of hospitalisation? Is it so low that NHS activity is largely back to normal? Or is it something where Covid is still a large part of NHS' daily activity? Different answers to this (effectively test 3) produce v different policy responses.
And it produces very different answers in terms of what happens with the Budget. If the plan is to say greater hospitalisation is acceptable then the NHS is going to need much more surge capacity (and money) to deal with it. Something v important to look out for next week.
I mean, the detail on the four tests is astonishingly slender. They’re referred to repeatedly in the document yet it is virtually the only subject on which there’s no significant elaboration. They’re stated, there’s a graphic and that’s it.
Also much talk about a cautious approach. The most cautious element is certainly the five week wait between significant relaxations. That said the PM did say the aim is to "remove all limits" on social contacts at some point from 21st June...
And SAGE says: The "relaxation of a significant number of restrictions over 3 months starting from the beginning of April could lead to hospital occupancy higher than the January peak whereas relaxation over 9 months would result in a much smaller peak."

Apr-June is 3 months...
CONCLUSIONS-the "data not dates" and "v cautious" framing isn't really right, it's much more nuanced.

-The document the govt published today was very detailed except on the very thing we've heard so much about- data.
-It was much more detailed about the dates.
-The other framing was about caution.
-It's certainly true that there's time (five weeks) between relaxation to measure effects. That is def cautious.
-But the time frame the govt has opted for, most measures relaxed by summer is on the ambitious end of what SAGE/Spi-M discuss.
Therefore, the framing of much we’ve heard going into this (and which is still being repeated) is hard to sustain.

That’s not to say that the decisions plotted out or the framework outlined are wrong but that it doesn’t really cohere to how it’s been billed or described.

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More from @lewis_goodall

23 Feb
Matt Hancock said today "we never had a national outage of PPE"

Yet on 17th April govt felt the need to issue guidance which said PPE could be reused: "Compromise is needed to optimise supply in times of extreme shortages."

Also said lab coats could be used if gowns ran out.
If MH means the country didn't completely run out of PPE well of course, that's literally true- but was never going to happen and not the metric against which the period should be adjudged.

There was, however, extreme national (not just local) pressure as this guidance attests.
And if there wasn't a "national outage" (as I say, an interesting choice of words), why did areas of the wider care network, like hospices, struggle so severely and rely on their community hand making them goggles and gowns?

Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
Sturgeon says that although there's been a very large reduction in infections in Scotland since the lockdown, that's been slowing and last week there was almost no reduction at at all. Says R might not be much below 1: "It would likely not take v much easing to push it above 1."
FM says that Scottish govt intends to publish a more detailed plan in mid-March on sequencing of reopening. Today is about "overall approach"
FM:"If all goes according to plan we will move back to a levels system from the first week of April"

Says she hopes all parts of Scotland to move out of Level 4 into Level 3 and some places less depending on infection rate

So Scotland moving back to tiers/levels and England not
Read 8 tweets
23 Feb
Latest economic numbers from @ONS

-726,000 fewer people in employment compared to a year ago.
-Employment rate down 1.5% on a year ago and 0.3% on the quarter.
-Unemployment up 1.5% a year ago and up a sharp 0.4% on the quarter.
-18-24s seeing sharpest decreases in employment. Image
Unemployment rate of 5.1% is still historically lowish, remarkable given events (and lower than most other European economies).

That said, huge numbers of people are still on furlough. We can’t know what the true state of the economy/labour market is until that fully unwinds.
And look at this chart. Shows the pain in employment losses being felt overwhelmingly by the 18-24s. No plan for the resumption of their university/education and in the world of work they’re suffering too. Image
Read 5 tweets
22 Feb
BREAK: The United States becomes the first country to record more than half a million Covid deaths.
Bear in mind, as huge as this figure is, it’s a smaller figure on a per capita basis than that of the UK’s.

US: 1 Covid death in 656 people
UK: 1 Covid death in 551 people
Of course, there are different ways of collecting the data in different countries and the US/UK figs are in the same ball park. We can say both countries have had bad pandemics with severe death tolls.
Read 4 tweets
22 Feb
Boris Johnson: "With every day that goes by this programme of vaccination is creating a shield around the entire population, which means we're now travelling on a one way road to freedom."
That could well be true in the long term, reading through the SAGE docs and modelling, it's clear that even with vaccines policy choices could well lead to a rapid increase in infections, hospitalisation and thus presumably extra restrictions.
PM "we'll be led by data, not dates."

As I've said this afternoon, up to a point. Even though we've had a lot of documents today, we don't really know what the exact criteria is, what the data is the govt is looking for.

Read 5 tweets
22 Feb
So the answer to this was...very little. Govt says students on practical courses who require campus access to graduate can return from Mar 8th. All other students will have to wait for a review, which won't report til end of Easter holidays and only then will set out the options.
HE seems to have been treated differently to other sectors, which have (contrary to some of the briefing we saw) been given some ideas of dates. Even nightclubs have a date. The rest of education has a date which is very soon. By contrast students and HE have very little.
Students- do let me know if you hear your university’s plans. DMs open.
Read 6 tweets

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