As UK schools and pubs close, London avoids lockdown for now


>>Sreenivasan: LONDON IS NOT UNDER A LOCKDOWN, BUT PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON ORDERED SCHOOLS, PUBS, AND OTHER SOCIAL VENUES TO CLOSE EXCEPT FOR DELIVERY AND TAKE-OUT. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WARNED TO STAY INDOORS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. JOINING US NOW, NPR’S FRANK LANGFITT. FRANK, WHAT STREET DO WE FIND YOU ON OUTSIDE OF LONDON? >>I’M ON THE HIGH STREET. IT’S BASICALLY WHAT WE CALL THE MAIN STREET HERE IN ENGLAND, IN A TOWN CALLED WAYBRIDGE. IT’S UPSTREAM ON THE THEMES, ABOUT 16, 17 MILES OUTSIDE OF LONDON.>>Sreenivasan: AND WHAT’S IT LIKE THERE? I MEAN, I SEE TRAFFIC GOING BY. I SEE PEDESTRIANS.>>YEAH, I’M A LITTLE SURPRISED, HARI. I THOUGHT THAT MORE PEOPLE WOULD BE INSIDE. WHAT’S REALLY INTERESTING IS THAT THERE ARE EVEN SOME CAFES HERE AND MAYBE A RESTAURANT OR TWO THAT ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT– TO WHAT BORIS JOHNSON, THE PRIME MINISTER, SAID LAST NIGHT, WHICH IS HE WANTS PEOPLE, WANTS CAFES, BARS AND RESTAURANTS TO– TO CLOSE.>>Sreenivasan: SO, HOW SERIOUSLY ARE PEOPLE TAKING THIS? ARE THERE RUNS ON STORES?>>YEAH, THERE ARE. IN SOME PLACES, THEY’VE BEEN REALLY STRIPPED BARE, AND PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KIND OF SHOCKED BY THAT. THERE WAS A VIDEO RECENTLY BY A NURSE FROM THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE WHO WAS CRYING. SHE HAD JUST GOTTEN OFF A 48-HOUR SHIFT AND COULDN’T BUY ANY FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. BUT THE GROCERY STORE RIGHT DOWN THE STREET IS NOT TOO BAD. THERE WAS A SECURITY GUARD ACTUALLY GUARDING THE WINE AND BEER, WHICH IS INTERESTING. MOST OF THE VEGETABLE AND FRUIT WAS GONE, BUT THERE WAS MEAT. SO, IT VARIES. ONE THING IS THAT THE SUPERMARKETS HERE ARE NOW SAYING THEY’RE GOING TO HIRE MORE THAN 30,000 TEMPORARY WORKERS TO TRY TO DEAL WITH THE INCREDIBLE DEMAND.>>Sreenivasan: WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE OVERALL ECONOMY? I MEAN, WHEN PEOPLE THINK SCHOOL CLOSURES, THEY HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHO’S GOING TO STAY HOME WITH THE KIDS. WHAT ARE THE RIPPLE EFFECTS THERE?>>THE RIPPLE EFFECTS ARE REALLY BIG. A LOT– OF COURSE, MOST PUBS AND RESTAURANTS WILL SHUT DOWN, I THINK, ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WHICH WILL, TECHNICALLY, THROW I WOULD IMAGINE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, OUT OF WORK. WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS SAID YESTERDAY IS THEY’RE GOING TO MAKE AN UNPRECEDENTED EFFORT. THEY’RE GOING TO GIVE EMPLOYERS WHO ARE WILLING TO FURLOUGH THEIR WORKERS, THEY CAN GIVE THEM ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY UP TO 80% OF WORKERS’ SALARIES FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. AND SO, WHAT THEY’RE REALLY, REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT HERE IS THE ECONOMY WAS NOT SUPER BEFORE THIS HAPPENED. THEY DON’T WANT TO SEE TONS AND TONS OF PEOPLE THROWN OUT OF WORK.>>Sreenivasan: THIS COMES AT A TIME WHEN, WELL, BREXIT IS STILL PART OF THE EQUATION.>>ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, AT THE END OF THIS YEAR– AND IT’S NOT CLEAR, THERE MAY BE ANOTHER BREXIT EXTENSION BECAUSE THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION. BUT AT THE END OF THIS YEAR, THE UNITED KINGDOM WAS GOING TO STOP HAVING ITS NORMAL TRADE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE E.U. AND THERE WAS NO DOUBT THAT IF THAT HAPPENED, THAT IT WOULD HURT THIS ECONOMY. I THINK NOW, GIVEN WHERE WE ARE, IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE.>>Sreenivasan: TELL ME, JUST BRIEFLY, THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBS. I MEAN, PEOPLE HERE MIGHT SAY, “WELL, SO WHAT? BARS ARE CLOSED.” BUT PUBS PERFORM A KIND OF A DIFFERENT FUNCTION THERE.>>THEY DO. I MEAN, I– I’M A GREAT FAN OF PUBS. AND THEY ARE A PLACE WHERE LOTS OF PEOPLE GATHER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. IT SO MUCH IS A PART OF THE CULTURE, PARTICULARLY AFTER WORK, ON THE WEEK DAY AND CERTAINLY ON A FRIDAY NIGHT. AND SO, TO SHUT DOWN PUBS IS A HUGE DEAL HERE, VERY DIFFERENT THAN JUST SHUTTING DOWN BARS IN AMERICA. THEY’RE VERY MUCH A PART OF THE SOCIAL FABRIC, AND ALSO, HARI, PART OF THE BRITISH IDENTITY.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, NPR’S FRANK LANGFITT JOINING US OUTSIDE LONDON. THANKS SO MUCH.>>HAPPY TO DO IT, HARI.

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