On the first point, the signatories are absolutely right. We know that lockdowns disrupt cancer care and other health services, and have a significant negative impact on mental health. No one wants those outcomes. “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the authors write. And they’re correct. Almost.
The problem is that we aren’t in lockdown. Across the UK, pubs, restaurants, schools and universities are all largely open. The kind of lockdown that the Great Barrington Declaration seems to be railing against hasn’t been in place in the UK since mid-June. Even in places like Manchester which are under local lockdown restrictions, pubs, restaurants and schools are still open and it’s hard to find people who are advocating for a return to the lockdown we saw in March. When the Great Barrington Declaration authors declare their opposition to lockdowns, they are quite literally arguing with the past.
So what do the Great Barrington Declaration authors suggest we should be doing? “Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open,” they write. Sound familiar? These are – more or less – the policies that the UK government has been following since September, with the exception that the government advice changed in mid-September that people should work from home if they can.