The government wants more people to return to their jobs in construction and manufacturing this week, and it will be the turn of retailers in three weeks’ time if the infection rate continues to fall.
This is a big if. But the alternative, to continue with the hard lock down Stay at Home message chosen by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has to change at some point. If not today, then when?.
There has to be a date — and over a year before we are likely to have an effective vaccine — on which everybody but the most vulnerable is released from the full Stay at Home instruction.
I do not think the Stay Alert slogan is very good, but I seriously struggle to come up with a better alternative because it is no longer possible to issue the same instruction to everybody.
From now on, individuals and employers have to make more of their own decisions.
I believe the passage of time will take some of the emotion out of today’s anger at the change in message.
If more of the economy opens up AND infection rates continue to fall, as we see in most of Continental Europe, I expect the public appetite for further easing to increase.
This, in a nutshell, is Mr Johnson’s new plan.
There are enormous challenges to overcome, not least how to keep people safe on public transport. But, we cannot wait until all risk has gone, we have to take calculated risks as soon as possible.
The government cannot keep millions of furloughed workers on its payroll forever. We have to work out how to get businesses back on their feet.