Economic confusion reflects the mess of England’s Covid ‘freedom day’ | Larry Elliott


Supermarkets warning of empty shelves. Underground lines closed due to staff shortages. A “pingdemic” that has told more than 500,000 people to self-isolate in the past week. Funny sort of freedom day.

Yet it was all supposed to be so easy. Britain would gradually emerge from its winter hibernation in a series of measured steps. By June, according to the original roadmap, all restrictions would have gone.

With the economy picking up speed over the summer, the support provided by the Treasury to individuals and businesses could be scaled back. By the autumn, Rishi Sunak – pinged himself after coming into contact with the infected health secretary, Sajid Javid – would be able to deliver a budget for a post-Covid country that would make support more tailored and far less expensive.

That prospect looks increasingly unlikely because things have got very messy indeed. The completion of the roadmap was delayed by four weeks and even now, not all…

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