The COVID-19 social restrictions imposed this week across the UK are a welcome move for most people. This invisible, unknown viral entity is sweeping the world with little in the way of humankind able to prevent it. Physical distancing and reduced mobility seem the only functional strategies at the present. Needless to say, there is a proportion of the population that totally ignores the advice and recommendations of the government and public health authorities - they seem to think that no rules apply to them. Unfortunately, it'll be others who suffer from their indulgences. If Bristling Brock had the power of imposing a 'Hex' upon these miscreants, he would do so; alas, he is not a fully paid up wizard as yet.
Amidst all the media attention to corona virus, perhaps we need to also appreciate the balancing act that the government has to achieve between necessary curtailment of the virus and the continuance of economic activity, social infrastructure normalisation and the provision of substantial resource to support the nation whilst balanced measures are devised and implemented. This is a gargantuan task - far from easy, almost impossible to make equitable across the social spectrum and, in blunt terms, darned expensive. With economic activity significantly reduced, the tax take reduces with that and the flexibility to spend becomes more pressured. We can rob Peter to pay Paul to a certain degree - suspending the overseas aid budget would be worth considering, for example, given that much of this ends up in the bank accounts of despots and tyrants; we can withold any due payments to the EU for a period of time but at some point the available pot of cash will run dry. If the crisis were to continue for a further six months or more then we would have to borrow significantly in order to support the current social positions. Not an ideal prospect but one that might need to happen. The crux is that industry probably can only sustain its shut-down status for a few short months so it is imperative that we manoeuvre the population into strict adherence of the social distancing and isolation measures to curtail the viral spread, hopefully see a significant drop in that spread as a result and gradually start to gear industry back up into some level of meaningful economic activity. It'll be difficult but absolutely necessary.
President Trump, of course, reckons it'll all be over and done with by Easter and that injecting squillions of dollars into the economy will sort all the problems out. It would be nice to believe that that was possible but for world trade to begin its recovery it requires more than just the US to get back on its feet. Global markets, supply chains and the movement of goods have become the very stuff of 21st Century life and this requires a majority of industrial economies to recover and start trading again. Easter sounds wonderful but very improbable in terms of beginning that recovery...and unfortunately, social psychology is not one of Trumpy's skills.
About a week ago, President Bolsonaro of Brazil, belligerent as ever, declared that corona virus was not significant and that Brazil would carry on as normal, eg, desecrating the Amazon rain forest for one thing. Yet as the viral spread has increased, Brazil finds itself surrounded by nation states that are being obliged to enforce stricter control measures. Few nations can claim to be entirely self sufficient these days and Brazil is no exception. The maverick and uninformed actions of Brazil's leadership need to face the realities of this being a global crisis - it won't stop at Brazil's amorphous borders.