Obviously, to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases and reduce burden on NHS, we need people to stop interacting as much.
TLDR; governments have given five different messages about going to work, from yes you can, to only key workers, shutting down the economy almost entirely, with no clear message. It is causing confusion and will cost businesses and livelihoods.
The message from the government last night seemed clear...
Don't go out, but you can get food, medicine, and importantly you CAN GO TO WORK. Ideally, you work from home if you can, but all that was being shut down is the face to face shops and places where people gather and spread the virus a lot with other random people. Indeed, stopping all contact probably does not help as the spread just comes back as soon as you relax the lockdown - this is all about statistics - reduce contact enough to allow the NHS to cope.
It was, otherwise, for all those offices and factories and businesses that keep the economy going - business as usual (working from home if you can).
Now, assuming this is enough to slow the virus, that is great, well done UK government.
So, yes, please follow advice, stay at home, let's slow this spread enough for the NHS to still work.
My issue, however, is the horrible mixed messages from the government, which is really causing a lot of confusion.
First the message was, you can go to work, but try and work from home where possible.
Then, No10 twitter tweeted (image below) that you can go to work (if you're a key worker).
Now that is a massively different message. That is shutting down the whole UK economy in one go over night with no notice. That is HUGE!
They deleted the tweet, and changed so you can go to work (but work from home if possible) as per the speech. OK, good.
This was however a massive mis-direction and confusion by a tweet that was up for a while last night.
But it gets worse, a document about the lock down (here) says, in bold and underlined: "Non-essential businesses and premises must now shut!" We think this is meant to be a heading, and wording like "Non-essential businesses and premises that must now shut:-" or some such, but that is not what it says.
Again, confusing and mixed messages.
But now they are SMSing everyone with a link to gov.uk/coronavirus which says not to go outside except for "essential work", which is yet another unclear term, and again suggests a complete UK economic shutdown.
So what the hell is the message meant to be - is this business as usual apart from shops, or what?
Why the hell are the government not giving a CLEAR MESSAGE?
P.S. Obviously offices and factories have some duty of care, so things like people being able to keep apart and hand sanitisers and so on are an important step as well.
P.P.S. as per final image below, they have now changed the web site to say "work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)". This is a total shambles!
P.P.P.S. the BBC have yet another, subtly different wording: Travelling to and from work, but only if it is "absolutely necessary", which is not clear either, is it necessary for you to still be paid, or is it "necessary work", i.e. key worker stuff?
P.P.P.P.S. as of this morning (25th) they have finally changed the PDF guidance document. That is three separate bits of government information that have changed now, having initially given misleading or wrong information.
Here are the messages:-