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The government’s decision to make face masks mandatory in supermarkets has been met with dismay as the new rules, which some already see as long overdue, will not come into effect until July 24.
In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the “U-turn from the government is welcome news”, but added: “Time and time again slow action has put the public’s health at risk. Why wait two weeks? Why not do it from today?”
Or as one person put it:
There are scorpions all over my floor. So I must make sure I wear shoes in the house from July 24th.— Mark Steel (@mrmarksteel) July 14, 2020
It’s far from the first time the government has been criticised for a slow response during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are four other notable cases.
The original lockdown
The UK announced a national lockdown on March 23, the same date as Germany but more than a week after many other European countries.
Where the UK lagged even farther behind was in the introduction of even basic restrictions – it was the second-to-last country in Europe to do so when on March 16 it advised against “non-essential” travel and contact with others, and asked people to avoid pubs, clubs and bars.
What was the cost of this delay? It’s impossible to say for certain what would have happened if lockdown was introduced earlier as no two countries are exactly alike – but the fact the UK has the highest death toll in Europe and the third highest in the world suggests the effects were pretty devastating.
Last month a scientific adviser to the government said the lack of speed “cost a lot of lives” and the government should have taken action earlier.