21:56 GMT19 September 2020
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    Westminster advised the British public to return to their jobs if possible last week as part of the measures to loosen the lockdown restrictions. Their messaging has since been criticised by the leaders of the devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales respectively.

    Journalist Marcus Stead gave his views on whether the British government should have been more cautious about easing the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

    Sputnik: When will a coronavirus vaccine be widely available in the UK?

    Marcus Stead: We still know remarkably little about the virus, how it transmits, and whether you can get it more than once. There is speculation about apparent scientific breakthroughs in the newspapers every single day, but there is still a huge amount that we still don’t know about this coronavirus and how it works.

    We are being told that progress is being made with regards to developing a vaccine, but we are realistically looking at a year before it gets through all the various testing stages, and the production is scaled up in a way that the whole population can receive it.

    There were news reports earlier today of a rollout starting in September this year, but this does sound somewhat farfetched when you look at the various safety checks that need to be put in place, and that’s not to mention all the cranky online conspiracy theories that people will be taken in by before we get to that stage.

    Sputnik: Will social distancing really be possible in public transport?

    Marcus Stead: We need to find new ways of working for many months and quite possibly years to come, and the consequences of this have not been explained in anything like the depth they should have been; just over a week ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that people should work from home if possible, but if that was not possible, they should avoid public transport, and walk, cycle, or travel by car.

    A very large amount of people who would normally take a bus or a train to work, will live too far away to walk or cycle, so they will have no choice but to take a car, but this brings its own problems. In many British towns and cities, many local councils have pursued anti-car policies for years; a lot of town centre car parks are privately owned anyway, and parking your car in a town or city centre may well end up costing you somewhere in the region of 25 pounds per day, so that is one hundred and twenty five pounds per week, and a lot of people simply can’t afford that.

    Sputnik: Has devolution hindered the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic?

    Marcus Stead: One of the main flaws of devolution is that it is preventing a united UK-wide approach to dealing with the pandemic, and it’s particularly concerning in Wales, where the Wales-England border is very different to the Scotland-England border, in that on the Wales-England border, a very large number of people live within a twenty mile radius either side of that border.

    What we are seeing in Wales is that the vast majority of media that people consume inside Wales comes from England, and not inside Wales, so a lot of people in Wales are not sure if they should listen to Boris Johnson’s advice, or Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford’s advice. So there is contradictory advice at a time when people need clear instructions and clarity.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    transport, coronavirus, pandemic, UK
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