COVID-19, balancing one restriction against another.

AM9

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in the debate about bringing all schoolchildren back to school in September is being considered only if some other relaxations are withdrawn given the (currently) gradual rise in infections. A member of SAGE in an R4 interview said this:

"It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other and then that's a matter of prioritising, do we think pubs are more important than schools?" He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme."
This was confirmed on this webpage:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53618776

Given the amount of support here for a return to full classes in schools, if it becomes necessary to trade off some other relaxations, what do members here think would be appropriate candidates?
 
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farleigh

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I don't see why one would compensate or affect the other. Shutting pubs etc seems quite a random thing to say.
 

AdamWW

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I don't see why one would compensate or affect the other. Shutting pubs etc seems quite a random thing to say.
Because everywhere you allow people to interact does its bit to raise R. Pubs and schools both open might make R=1.2 but with pubs or schools it's 1. (Made up numbers).
 

AM9

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I don't see why one would compensate or affect the other. Shutting pubs etc seems quite a random thing to say.
I don't know, - i'm neither an Epidemiologist nor a Behavioural Expert. The statement was made by Graham Medley and he is a professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the director of the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases there. So in simple terms he knows a lot more than me about it.
 
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NorthOxonian

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Because everywhere you allow people to interact does its bit to raise R. Pubs and schools both open might make R=1.2 but with pubs or schools it's 1. (Made up numbers).
But there's another factor complicating matters. As time goes on and more people have had it, and so have immunity (whether full or partial, antibody or T cell isn't really relevant), the R value will fall. So it could conceivably happen that with pubs and schools now, R would be 1.2, but with pubs and schools in the autumn it would be lower, with R as 1. We simply don't know to what extent the R value will fall over time.
 

Bletchleyite

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Because everywhere you allow people to interact does its bit to raise R. Pubs and schools both open might make R=1.2 but with pubs or schools it's 1. (Made up numbers).
Yes, that's exactly how it works, which is why things sometimes seem incongruous, leading to those stupid Facebook posts about "you can catch it in your Aunt's conservatory but not in a pub". The way it's working is that you have a really quite granular list of "stuff we want to do" as a big long menu and you can pick as many as you like, individually, until you "run out of money" i.e. R goes over 1.

And yes, I believe he was quite clearly saying that if we want kids back at school that will mean re-closing some things that were opened, or perhaps returning to a ban on visiting in households or staying overnight or something (as this seems to be causing the major problem in the Greater Manchester area at least).

But there's another factor complicating matters. As time goes on and more people have had it, and so have immunity (whether full or partial, antibody or T cell isn't really relevant), the R value will fall. So it could conceivably happen that with pubs and schools now, R would be 1.2, but with pubs and schools in the autumn it would be lower, with R as 1. We simply don't know to what extent the R value will fall over time.
As the amount of it circulating is quite low this will take a long time to build. But it's easy to work it out - just look at the rate of cases. If it starts decreasing, we can reopen something which will bring it back to flatlining. If it starts increasing (as it has), we need to close something to bring it back to flatlining. That's the "dance" part of "the hammer and the dance", and it's what we're following in England pending a vaccine or effective treatment.
 
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farleigh

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Oh for goodness sake.

I made up numbers for the sake of an example to point out how the two could be related.
No need to be like that.

They could be related but then they might not be. Do you have any evidence that they are related? Try to convince me.
 

Huntergreed

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Because everywhere you allow people to interact does its bit to raise R. Pubs and schools both open might make R=1.2 but with pubs or schools it's 1. (Made up numbers).
That’s entirely correct and a very good simplification of the current situation.

The problem is can we really afford to close all of the pubs again? We certainly must not deprive our children of any more education.

Your explanation is good, but it is purely epidemiological, in reality we have to weigh up the impacts on the economy, mental wellbeing etc...

I really don’t think England’s strategy of “keep cases constant and hope for the best (a vaccine)” is the correct approach to take.
 

duncanp

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But if pubs are practising social distancing, using hand sanitiser, restricting numbers, having table service only.. etc, how much difference would closing them again actually make?

There have been a few instances where COVID-19 cases have been linked to pubs. In these cases the pub has been closed for a few days for cleaning, and everyone who was in the pub has been contact traced.

If an individual pub is breaking the social distancing rules, then the relevant local authority has the power to take action.

But for the vast majority of pubs, there is no evidence that they are linked to the increase in COVID-19 infections, so it would be quite wrong to close them again.

The same can be said for restaurants, beauty salons, swimming pools, gyms, places of worship, shops, and anywhere else where people may meet.

What the government needs to do is find out what has caused the increase in cases and deal with that.
 

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What the government needs to do is find out what has caused the increase in cases and deal with that.
Which is what they've done in Manchester etc - it was "house parties" etc. People don't distance when they visit each other at home.

If that's most of it, we might have to end up in a situation where if you're found away from your primary residence overnight you have to show proof of the booking of a hotel or similar accommodation, for instance. Or even stop the parties early by way of say a 10pm curfew, after which you must, if you're not a key worker, be in either your own home or evidenced, booked accommodation for only your household. (Some countries have gone for curfews and I suspect that's why).

We may also need to consider removing discretion on fines and increasing them. I don't think people would take the chance as much if on being caught a £500 fine was mandatory, i.e. no discretion for Police in whether to issue or not, and if you wanted to debate it you would have to take it to Court.

It'd be fine if people were sticking to the "6 people or two households only if it's more" thing and staying 2m apart, but they aren't, anywhere. Perhaps that needs to go back into legislation?

With regard to pubs, my observation is that table layouts do not allow for that distancing if multiple households sit at the same table, so again that'll be a problem.
 

AdamWW

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That’s entirely correct and a very good simplification of the current situation.

The problem is can we really afford to close all of the pubs again? We certainly must not deprive our children of any more education.

Your explanation is good, but it is purely epidemiological, in reality we have to weigh up the impacts on the economy, mental wellbeing etc...

I really don’t think England’s strategy of “keep cases constant and hope for the best (a vaccine)” is the correct approach to take.
My explanation was of why the two are related, not a justification of the policy.

But if pubs are practising social distancing, using hand sanitiser, restricting numbers, having table service only.. etc, how much difference would closing them again actually make?
What the government needs to do is find out what has caused the increase in cases and deal with that.
Yes absolutely. But easier said and done, and they have made it much harder by relaxing quite a few things in one go.

I believe this is why in Wales they have tried to change one thing at a time, so they get a better handle on the effect. Though I suspect that the rate at which they are doing it is a bit fast to be really useful for that.
 

duncanp

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That’s entirely correct and a very good simplification of the current situation.



Your explanation is good, but it is purely epidemiological, in reality we have to weigh up the impacts on the economy, mental wellbeing etc...
This is the problem, you cannot look at things from a purely epidemiological point of view.

I do sometimes wish we had a Prime Minister, or someone in the government at least, with a science or maths degree.

The last Prime Minister I am aware of that had a science degree was Mrs Thatcher. I know someone who was a civil servant in The Treasury during the 1980s, and he tells me that Mrs Thatcher really knew her stuff, and you really had to know your facts if you wanted to persuade her to do something. If she were Prime Minister today, she would question the member of SAGE who made the statement about pubs having to close in order that schools can reopen, and ask him to justify what he said, and provide figures to back up his statements.

I do feel sometimes that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock just allow themselves to be persuaded too much by the scientists.
 

farleigh

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Which is what they've done in Manchester etc - it was "house parties" etc. People don't distance when they visit each other at home.

If that's most of it, we might have to end up in a situation where if you're found away from your primary residence overnight you have to show proof of the booking of a hotel or similar accommodation, for instance. Or even stop the parties early by way of say a 10pm curfew, after which you must, if you're not a key worker, be in either your own home or evidenced, booked accommodation for only your household. (Some countries have gone for curfews and I suspect that's why).

We may also need to consider removing discretion on fines and increasing them. I don't think people would take the chance as much if on being caught a £500 fine was mandatory, i.e. no discretion for Police in whether to issue or not, and if you wanted to debate it you would have to take it to Court.

It'd be fine if people were sticking to the "6 people or two households only if it's more" thing and staying 2m apart, but they aren't, anywhere.

With regard to pubs, my observation is that table layouts do not allow for that distancing if multiple households sit at the same table, so again that'll be a problem.
Why do you think people are not sticking to the restrictions? I think it might be because they do not believe in them. As you say - they aren't, anywhere.
 

CaptainHaddock

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But if pubs are practising social distancing, using hand sanitiser, restricting numbers, having table service only.. etc, how much difference would closing them again actually make?

There have been a few instances where COVID-19 cases have been linked to pubs. In these cases the pub has been closed for a few days for cleaning, and everyone who was in the pub has been contact traced.

If an individual pub is breaking the social distancing rules, then the relevant local authority has the power to take action.

But for the vast majority of pubs, there is no evidence that they are linked to the increase in COVID-19 infections, so it would be quite wrong to close them again.

The same can be said for restaurants, beauty salons, swimming pools, gyms, places of worship, shops, and anywhere else where people may meet.

What the government needs to do is find out what has caused the increase in cases and deal with that.
Indeed. There are around 50,000 pubs in England yet since the reopening only about 5 or 6 have had to close briefly due to a customer later testing positive for the virus. Yet go on social media and you"d think every pub was a hotbed of disease!

Getting back to the thread topic this is another "speculation presented as news" story. Come September, if current trends continues, the virus won't really be an issue for most people so I don't see how schools reopening will have any bearing on whether anywhere else may have to close.
 

MarlowDonkey

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What the government needs to do is find out what has caused the increase in cases and deal with that.

The question is whether the government after 5 month's experience has a clear idea on what transmits infection and what doesn't. Some evidence seems to emerge empirically. A group of people singing in an enclosed hall can transmit the disease in a way that an open air demonstration or sitting on a beach doesn't. Or where the demo attenders and beach tourists lucky or just asymptotic suffers? Passing by customers or staff in supermarkets doesn't in practice seem a higher risk than staying at home. Is a paranoia about potentially infected surfaces really justified?
 

duncanp

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Getting back to the thread topic this is another "speculation presented as news" story. Come September, if current trends continues, the virus won't really be an issue for most people so I don't see how schools reopening will have any bearing on whether anywhere else may have to close.
Scottish schools re-open a few weeks earlier than in England, on August 11th.

I don't think the Scottish government is contemplating closing pubs barely a month after re-opening them.

It will be interesting to see whether there is an increase in cases in Scotland after schools there re-open.
 

AdamWW

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Getting back to the thread topic this is another "speculation presented as news" story. Come September, if current trends continues, the virus won't really be an issue for most people so I don't see how schools reopening will have any bearing on whether anywhere else may have to close.
Er, which trend is this? The one that shows that with current restrictions infections are staying level or possibly rising now?

I think we should separate the view "the infection rate is currently constant so opening schools might require something else to be shut to prevent infections from increasing" from the throw-away comment that pubs might be the thing that we have to restrict.
 

PHILIPE

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Why can't all these "experts" speak with one voice ? Every time another one emerges with some idea it just throws things into confusion.
 

AM9

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...
Getting back to the thread topic this is another "speculation presented as news" story. Come September, if current trends continues, the virus won't really be an issue for most people so I don't see how schools reopening will have any bearing on whether anywhere else may have to close.
No it isn't. Unless there BBC is lying about the professor saying that, it is news. You might not agree with what he said but it certainly is news.
 

AM9

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Why can't all these "experts" speak with one voice ? Every time another one emerges with some idea it just throws things into confusion.
Because if everybody knowledgeable about a science agreed with the first theory put forward, nothing would progress beyond that point. We would still think that the earth was flat and supported on the backs of four elephants, we would all still be curing every illness with leeches and smoking would still be 'good for our health'.
 

NorthOxonian

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Which is what they've done in Manchester etc - it was "house parties" etc. People don't distance when they visit each other at home.
Indeed this is why closing pubs could* make things worse. In a pub situation, there can at least be some management of social distancing, whereas if they're all closed again I suspect there'd be a huge surge in illegal raves where social distancing will go out of the window completely.

*I say could - I could be wrong. But I think the recent upswing in cases in more to do with how people are now socialising, and the fact their behaviour has returned closer to normal, not directly because the pubs are open. Again, I could be wrong on that.
 

AdamWW

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Indeed this is why closing pubs could* make things worse. In a pub situation, there can at least be some management of social distancing, whereas if they're all closed again I suspect there'd be a huge surge in illegal raves where social distancing will go out of the window completely.

*I say could - I could be wrong. But I think the recent upswing in cases in more to do with how people are now socialising, and the fact their behaviour has returned closer to normal, not directly because the pubs are open. Again, I could be wrong on that.
The problem is that that government probably doesn't have a much better idea on that than you or I...
 

duncanp

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Indeed this is why closing pubs could* make things worse. In a pub situation, there can at least be some management of social distancing, whereas if they're all closed again I suspect there'd be a huge surge in illegal raves where social distancing will go out of the window completely.
And there is another example of unintended consequences here.

The Telegraph is reporting that beaches in the UK are becoming "unmanageable" as Britons opt for staycations.

Er, exactly what did they expect to happen if the quarantine rules are changed every 5 minutes?

People opt to stay in the UK, which makes services and facilities more crowded, which makes it more difficult to maintain social distancing.

It might have been better to let people go to Spain anyway.

It is also why restricting the opening hours of pubs might not be a good idea, as it would put more pressure on them during the few hours that they are open.


Beaches are becoming "unmanageable" due to large swathes of visitors, local authorities have warned, prompting fears around keeping people safe in the water and social distancing.

Daytrippers are flocking to beaches across the country as many opt for a "staycation" in the UK amid uncertainty over holidays abroad.

The Coastguard had its busiest day for more than four years on Friday - when the UK recorded its third hottest day ever - as it dealt with more than 300 incidents.

In response to the influx, Thanet District Council asked people to avoid four of the area's beaches, including Margate's Main Sands, due to the number of visitors.

The Coastguard said the total number of UK incidents was 329, including 232 callouts for coastguard rescue teams, 129 for lifeboats, 22 requiring aircraft and three for a hovercraft.

It comes as Europe's largest tour operator Tui extended the cancellation of all UK holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands until August 10 and all holidays to mainland Spain until August 17 following the Government's decision to impose quarantine on all travellers returning from the country.
The BBC are also now reporting that another scientist has pushed back against the idea that "pubs need to close in order for schools to reopen safely.


.......but Allyson Pollock, a professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, said she did not think this was the right tactic to control the virus, describing the idea of trade-offs as a "diversion".

"We need to be much more confident that the government is playing its part and has a coherent testing strategy - which it doesn't have - that the test results are interpretable and that they're putting in the necessary public health and primary care measures," she said.

"And then we would not need to see these trade-offs...."
 
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yorkie

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Why can't all these "experts" speak with one voice ? Every time another one emerges with some idea it just throws things into confusion.
Because there are nearly as many opinions as there are experts!

What I want to ask those who advocate severe restrictions on our lives, is this: How long they want those restrictions to last for?

I've said it before and I will say it again: people will not accept being restricted indefinitely.

If you close pubs, people will socialise in other settings, and no-one is going to be able to stop them. Also who is going to pay for all that?

I'd like to have an argument with this member of SAGE.
 

CaptainHaddock

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Why can't all these "experts" speak with one voice ? Every time another one emerges with some idea it just throws things into confusion.
The word "expert" used to mean a qualified person knowledgeable in a particular field. Now, as far as social media is concerned, it's just "someone in authority who agrees with me"!

And, judging by his comments in the link, Prof Graham Meddly is no expert!
 

AdamWW

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Because there are nearly as many opinions as there are experts!

What I want to ask those who advocate severe restrictions on our lives, is this: How long they want those restrictions to last for?

I've said it before and I will say it again: people will not accept being restricted indefinitely.

If you close pubs, people will socialise in other settings, and no-one is going to be able to stop them. Also who is going to pay for all that?

I'd like to have an argument with this member of SAGE.
The member of SAGE was quoted as saying:

And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities may well be required to enable us to open schools.
It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other, and then that's a matter of prioritising. Do we think pubs are more important than schools?"
I think the headline "Pubs 'may need to shut' to allow schools to reopen" while literally true is a bit misleading as the mention of pubs seemed to be given as an example of a trade-off rather than a statement that they have identified that
the first step in any re-introduction of restrictions would be to shut pubs.

The word "expert" used to mean a qualified person knowledgeable in a particular field. Now, as far as social media is concerned, it's just "someone in authority who agrees with me"!

And, judging by his comments in the link, Prof Graham Meddly is no expert!
I think there is a problem in that an 'expert' sometimes seems to be someone who makes a living by opining on things without necessarily being qualified to do so. And this has led some to conclude that scientists actually have no better knowledge or ability than anyone else, they have just managed to get a job where they can express their opinions. This is not true.

I really struggle to see what Graham Meddly has said that would suggest he is not an expert.

Bearing in mind the qualifications ("might", "may well") what has he said that is wrong?

The best the BBC could find in terms of a dissenting view was someone saying that if the government gets testing right then we could avoid having to make this descision.
 

ainsworth74

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And, judging by his comments in the link, Prof Graham Meddly is no expert!
He is professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the director of the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases. If that doesn't give him credentials as an expert in this field we truly are lost and I have no idea what would qualify someone as an expert.
 
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Journeyman

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Scottish schools re-open a few weeks earlier than in England, on August 11th.

I don't think the Scottish government is contemplating closing pubs barely a month after re-opening them.

It will be interesting to see whether there is an increase in cases in Scotland after schools there re-open.
The Scottish Government is specifically not easing any more restrictions at the moment, in an effort to ensure the return to school goes as smoothly as possible. There's various dates pencilled in for late August to mid-September for things like concert venues, pools and gyms.
 

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