It's time to end the lockdown, and get the country back to work, to avoid a total economic collapse, argues Robert Hyde

The arrival of Covid-19 three months ago blindsided the Western World, and the resulting lockdown happened so fast that anyone who dared to question its merits, and its longer term implications, was simply denied a platform. While answers to the question of the lockdowns effectiveness are beginning to become clear, what is evident is that it has been ruinous for the British economy.

We can all now see the national cost of lockdown, and the early indicators for GDP and unemployment make for grim reading. Both the OECD and the Bank of England have forecast double digit falls for the UK economy (as high as 18%) this year, the steepest decline seen since 1706. While the global economy appears to be veering towards recession, the UK is now facing an economic depression not seen for generations.

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While this may seem insensitive, we need to begin a discussion around whether the lockdown has been worth it, and whether the economic devastation which is to come has been reasonably balanced against the threat posed to life. Only with a nuanced discussion can we demonstrate this is not black and white, and that ending the lockdown may save lives. While if this was merely a discussion around lives vs money, I would understand the lockdown fanatics, but it isn't.

It doesn't take an economist to see that the lockdown is a case of life vs life. To ensure hospitals could handle the increase in Covid-19 cases (a spike which never actually materialised) non-Covid-19 patients were denied treatment. While hospitals classified it as 'non-urgent' treatment, we're talking about cancer screenings, and in severe cases, even chemotherapy. The death toll from this ongoing political decision, to de-prioritise all non-Covid-19 treatments, will become clearer as the months and years progress, but tens if not hundreds of thousands of people will have lost years of their lives. In the UK within the next decade, preventable cancer deaths alone are predicted to rise by the thousand.

The economic effects of lockdown, and resultant economic impacts on employment and wages, will hit the poor the hardest. In fact, Britain is slated to suffer more devastating economic blows than any other Western nation. While harder to predict exact casualties, mass unemployment is an epidemic as deadly as Covid-19, and the UK could see as many as 2.5 million additional unemployed, because of the lockdown. We have only to review the stats from 2007/08 to see the spikes in substance abuse and depression, and the consequential loss of social capital, to see how devastating it can be.

The UK's decision to remain in lockdown so far has ensured we will suffer the largest economic hit from the Covid-19 pandemic among Western nations. While woke group think about protecting the elderly, and mindless virtue signalling about protecting the NHS forced us into lockdown, it's time to get the economy moving again. With growing evidence that lockdowns have limited impact, and the fact that protestors have been given free rein to ignore social distancing, it's time to end the lockdown, and get the country back to work, to avoid a total economic collapse.

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