IF you experienced a strange sense of déjà vu on Tuesday, you probably weren’t alone.
Nearly six months to the day since Boris Johnson took to our screens to tell Britain to “stay at home”, we find ourselves once again facing tightened restrictions – albeit this time couched in terms of avoiding a second lockdown.
Then, as now, the “critical thing” is to stop the disease spreading between households.
In Scotland, this means a nationwide ban on visiting other people’s homes and continued ‘rule of six’ limits on how many people can meet together outdoors or in hospitality venues.
A surveillance report by Public Health England shows that the vast majority of contacts traced for each new positive case were either people the person lived with (57 per cent) or visitors to the household (13.5%).
That means that the home is also the most likely source of exposure – followed by leisure and community venues such as restaurants, pubs, gyms, playgroups, cinemas and places of worship, which accounted for only around 7% of contacts (and potential sources of infection).
Such a breakdown of Test and Protect data for Scotland is not yet available, but it is likely to be very similar, underlining the puzzling decision of the UK Government not to impose household visiting bans on England – something ministers there may U-turn on shortly.
In any case, it explains why – for now at least – schools, hairdressers and shops remain open, with pubs and restaurants continuing with a 10pm curfew from tomorrow: they are not the major transmission zones.
Schools are problematic because children are super-spreaders of cold and flu bugs which can be confused with Covid (hence the spike in demand for testing), while the hospitality sector can reduce risk with strict hygiene, physical distancing, and temperature checks.
The curfew has more to do with curbing late-night inebriation that erodes patrons’ compliance, but may in the end backfire if drinkers ignore public health rules to gather…