Wonks Propose Lockdown Exit Strategies

Despite Sir Keir Starmer calling on the Government to develop an exit strategy from lockdown, left-wing think tanks have not produced any sizeable research on the matter. Those on the centre-right, however have been busily researching and publishing safe routes out. Guido has collated a handy summary:

The Adam Smith Institute argues that the impact of the lockdown on the economy grows deeper and faster over time. It recommends a phased plan should be developed and released by the Government including:

  • Decentralised mass testing, and isolation and tracing of cases while protecting privacy.
  • encouraging physical distancing, maintaining limits on mass gatherings and special measures for at-risk groups in early stages;
  • allowing as many businesses as possible, as quickly as possible, to reopen their operations;
  • introduce policies, both permanent and temporary, that will enable the economy to bounce back after the crisis, including cutting excessive red tape and taxes that discourage investment.

The ASI have also called for the establishment of an Economic Advisory Group for Emergencies (EAGE) to advise on the withdrawal of the lockdown, operating in tandem with SAGE.

The Tony Blair Institute appears to have bought into the idea of app-augmented contact tracing, citing research that estimates 60% app usage could end the epidemic. Its new paper argues:

  • The UK could shift to ‘soft lockdown’ with open schools, open businesses with strict social distancing and capacity limits, mass face mask wearing, although over 65s staying in ‘hard lockdown’ if:
    • Daily new cases < 500
    • Testing capacity > 100k
    • Tracing capacity > 50%
    • Vulnerable remain shielded
  • The UK could move to ‘soft open’, with open hospitality sector without capacity limits, shops with social distancing, and transport with face masks if:
    • Daily new cases < 100
    • Testing + tracing as above

Policy Exchange argues that the Government should introducing digital contact tracing as a Sixth Pillar to its Five Pillar Testing Strategy, creating a ‘Six Pillar Testing and Tracing Strategy’. It argues:

  • A ‘suppression’ strategy will need to include three pillars that are all inter-related: i) intermittent social distancing, ii) swab testing, iii) contact tracing
  • A cross-Government, multi-agency, 24-7 national Testing and Tracing Command Centre should be established, modelled on those in Taiwan and Singapore and those within Counter Terrorism.
  • Urgently launch a national voluntary App to significantly improve ‘contact tracing’ of those infected with coronavirus.
  • Less technologically literate people should be taught by Government how to use the app.

The Centre for Policy Studies has calculated today that Government borrowing this year will rise from £55 billion to approximately £300 billion, representing a staggering 15% of GDP. This is money that will have to be paid back through new taxes, spending cuts, and the return of inflation. Showing the need for an exit strategy before this figure balloons much further…

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