12:51 GMT11 July 2020
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    Scientists in Britain have warned that the UK remains “on a knife edge” and should observe “constant vigilance” to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases. The stark warning comes ahead of the long-awaited reopening of pubs, restaurants and non-essential British businesses next month.

    Political Commentator John Whitby thinks that the current epidemiological situation in the UK is the result of initial mistakes, such as insufficient restrictions on those travelling into Britain. He also believes that the UK government did not foresee what impact the lockdown measures could have on smaller businesses.

    Sputnik: What do these comments regarding lockdown easing and a second wave represent?

    John Whitby: I think it's almost exactly what has actually been said by government and anyone with any intelligence over the last three to four weeks. Because it's blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain that unless you actually take account of the position that we've been in, as you come out of lockdown, which means that as a person, you take personal responsibility for your actions, then it is going to end up when you see what's been happening around the UK with the demonstrations for BLM and everything else and people rushing to the beaches. It's nowhere near common sense and you are very likely to trigger as a result of that stupidity - a second wave.

    Sputnik: Is the UK coming out of lockdown too quickly?

    John Whitby: I don't think it is if you take the way that they're coming out of lockdown slowly and apply the common sense that they've been asking us to. I think it's absolutely vital we get out of lockdown because I believe that the effect of the lockdown on the economy is going to be such that I will be very surprised if we're anywhere above or below 10 million out of work by the end of next year.

    Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a daily news conference with Public Health England's (PHE) Medical Director Yvonne Doyle (not pictured), on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain May 25, 2020
    © REUTERS / Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street

    The effects that a continuation of lockdown is going to have across the country on the social fabric, as well as the economic fabric of the nation, is going to be quite horrendous. So, we have to come out of lockdown. They were being asked to set a roadmap, which they did, but as soon as that roadmap was issued, people suddenly went 'wahey, it's all over' which of course it isn't. We are still in the grip of a pandemic across most of the developed world and unless we apply the sensible use of the freedoms we've got, we will trigger it all over again.

    Sputnik: What more could the UK be doing to better protect its economy and citizens that it’s perhaps not doing at this moment in time? 

    John Whitby: I think the fundamental mistakes that were made right at the beginning, was to not actually hit lock down properly and tighten up access to the UK. I think we brought in an awful lot of people who were spreading the virus and I think if this proposed 14 day quarantine was put in place right from day one, when they shut hotels but still allowed thousands of people to come into the major hub airports and disappear into the country, and I think if we'd have actually taken that action at that stage, it would have had a potentially huge impact and kept the spread of the virus down.

    Our lockdown was very lightweight, which is a good thing in many ways. We've never been a good country for accepting restrictions on our behaviour and the fact that the government didn't want to actually put into draconian measures, I think is to its credit in one way, but obviously that then has a knock on effect that people really didn't take a lot of notice of these restrictions that were in place. So yeah, they could have done a lot more and been much more restrictive, especially on access to the country, and I think that would have been to our benefit. That could potentially mean that the peak was lower. We could have come out lockdown slightly earlier.

    I think that they also have not really looked at the impact that lockdown has had on the smaller of the SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and I think there's a lot of businesses out there that have gone/are going/will go as a result of this. I think the major businesses have been fairly well protected - technology business have been reasonably well protected - but I certainly know people in my old industry of corporate events, especially the providers and the self-employed, are really suffering very, very greatly and I think there's going to be a large number of redundancies and failures in that industry in the coming months.

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

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    businesses, lockdown, UK
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