Has the government handled the pandemic well? Readers have their say

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, Lo

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

A survey of more than a thousand readers has found that three quarters do not feel the government has handled the pandemic well.

During a televised media briefing on Tuesday evening, the PM confirmed that Covid-19 had appeared on the death certificates of more than 100,000 people. 

In Norfolk alone, deaths passed 1,000 this month.

We asked readers to give their opinion on how various pandemic-related "milestones" were handled in a survey which received more than 1,000 responses. Here's what you said.

1. On the whole, has the government handled the pandemic well? 

  • Yes: 23.6pc
  • No: 76.4pc

2. Were we right to go into the first national lockdown in March? 

  • Yes - but we should have locked down earlier: 80.6pc
  • Yes - it was just the right time: 16.5pc
  • No - it wasn't necessary: 2.9pc

3. Were businesses forced to close in lockdown given enough support? 

Most Read

  • Yes - they received sufficient help from government: 38.5pc
  • No - they weren't given enough: 59.7pc
  • No - they were given too much: 1.9pc
How Essex businesses are getting ready for life after lockdown (Photo from skakyn via Getty)

Many of you said the first lockdown should have began earlier and lasted longer - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Was Eat Out to Help Out a good idea? 

  • Yes: 13.1pc
  • Yes - but support shouldn't have been limited to hospitality: 12.7pc
  • No: 74.2pc

5. Should schools and universities have gone back in September? 

  • Yes: 15.8pc
  • Yes to schools, no to universities: 20.9pc
  • Yes to universities, no to schools: 3.6pc
  • No: 59.7pc

6. Should we have gone into a second national lockdown in November? 

  • Yes - but we should have locked-down much earlier: 60.4pc
  • Yes - it was the right time to do it: 11pc
  • Yes - the tier system wasn't working: 20.1pc
  • No - the tier system was working: 3.9pc
  • No - it wasn't necessary: 4.5pc

7. Should lockdown have been lifted in December? 

  • Yes: 10.8pc
  • No: 89.2pc

8. Should we have had Christmas bubbles in all non Tier 4 areas? 

  • Yes: 22.6pc
  • No: 77.4pc
Picture: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Up to three households will be able to form Christmas bubbles. Picture: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

9. Should we have closed the borders in January 2021? 

  • Yes - the new variants from other countries mean it's the right time to do it: 15pc
  • Yes - but we should have closed them from the outset/ much sooner than we did: 82.3pc
  • No - it isn't necessary: 2.7pc

10. Do you think the government delivered on its promise of a "world-beating" test and trace system? 

  • Yes: 13.1pc
  • No: 86.9pc

11. Do you think the government has done a good job rolling-out the vaccine? 

  • Yes: 67.7pc
  • No: 32.3pc
Barbara Marriott, from Bungay, gets vaccinated by Darren Wales at Hayden Chemists in Oulton Broad.

Barbara Marriott, from Bungay, gets vaccinated by Darren Wales at Hayden Chemists in Oulton Broad. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

12. Has the NHS been given enough support to cope with demand during the pandemic? 

  • Yes: 11.6pc
  • Yes - at the expense of non-Covid patients: 30pc
  • No: 58.4pc

13. Was a high death-toll (now over 100,000) inevitable? 

  • Yes - things were always going to be tough: 29.2pc
  • No - the government could have acted differently: 70.8pc

14. Has Norfolk County Council been successful in managing the pandemic at the local level? 

  • Yes: 15.8pc
  • No: 17pc
  • I don't know/ I'm not aware of NCC's involvement: 67.2pc

What did the region's MPs say?

On the whole, they defended the government's record.

According to North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, there was "never a blueprint" to tackle the Covid-19 crisis, and the government has done well in distributing financial support to the public through schemes like Eat Out to Help Out and furlough.

He said that while there was things "we could have done better" - such as closing the borders earlier and providing more clarity to schools - the response was "by and large" capable.

Likewise, George Freeman, MP for mid-Norfolk, said the pandemic exposed "long incubated serious weaknesses in UK public health systems", but also demonstrated community spirit, local joint-working, dedication of frontline health staff and the brilliance of the life science sector.

He noted that lockdowns were "hugely damaging", adding that "with the virus falling back in the summer and people on their knees", it wasn't feasible or desirable to continue a national shut-down.

What you said about the government's handling of the pandemic:

"Boris Johnson is always busy trying to please everyone and isn't assertive enough. However, I wouldn't want his job, he isn't an epidemiologist and let's face it, not even the scientists agree. He's just a man, trying his best." - Anonymous, King's Lynn

"As a frontline NHS worker the toll on patients and staff is atrocious: patients are dying, my colleagues are burning out, we are all suffering Covid-anxiety. I've seen more death and end of life care in the last year then I have in the past 15. Boris needs to go and someone able to manage this needs to come in." - Danny P, 40, Norwich

"We should have closed our borders completely in February 2020 when we heard of the problems in China, then none of this would have happened. Boris listened to big business rather than just doing what was right." - Pamela Mills, 26, Wroxham

"As an island, we should have worked together with Ireland, Scotland and Wales and taken a much stricter approach on closing borders to travellers leaving and entering the UK from the first lockdown onward. That's how New Zealand handled it." - Sara Dutton, 36, Thetford

"Everyone knows how much of a strain the NHS has been faced with over these last few months. The lack of staff has meant many Covid deaths and many more people just being left to die due to cancellations of operations relating to other serious life illnesses." - Liam Allen, 25, Thetford

"I'm a delivery driver and I work an hour away from home and the traffic is ridiculous for a national lockdown. We need further restrictions because people are still mixing and going out for unnecessary reasons. I feel the UK is the last to do anything when it comes to crisis." - Jazmin Richards, 26, Norwich

"Being a self employed mum of two, I have received no help from the government as my business was only two years old. Financial support should not have excluded so many." - Julia Cole, 36

"Great Yarmouth has not been in control of the virus. Shops are still being entered without masks and the council is not willing to do much apart from suggesting we call the police. The government should have shut the borders way earlier and put us all in a lockdown. Closing most businesses may have meant losing money, but I’m pretty sure we’re putting ourselves in more debt continuing the way we are now." - Nauris Dambrauskas, Great Yarmouth

"What went wrong from the outset was elderly people being discharged from hospital without being tested in the scramble to free up beds. Some of them ended up in care homes, like my father who died a few days after being discharged. They rang and told me he was declining but I couldn't go and see him. Then they said he was on oxygen with breathing difficulties. The next day he was off oxygen but comfortable. The next morning, I got a phone call to say he'd died." - Anonymous

"The NHS was unsupported before Covid, and we cant blame the pandemic for a lack of support in the NHS. NCC have not got enough home carers to support people living at home through the pandemic. Locally, NHS nursing staff have offered to help deliver the vaccine rollout but none of us have been called to help out, though we are all trained ready to go. Test and trace is waste of time. Having had the virus, I was contacted and told I could now go out three days before my isolation ended - as were some of my colleagues and my mother. No one contacted me throughout isolation to see how we were as a family isolated with two young children with no family support." - Anonymous

"I think the government is always in a no win situation. There could have been less deaths if people had common sense, worn masks and only gone out if absolutely necessary. One of the big issues is that when the government provides 'guidance' on a topic, people start saying: "well,we don't have to?" And then when it is 'mandatory', they're squealing nanny state!" - Anonymous

"I don't think "Eat Out to Help Out" increased the spread of the virus everywhere. This is a tourist area and lots of pubs and restaurants took advantage of the scheme with no rise whatsoever in infections afterwards. I think the worst performance from the government was in its so-called world-beating test and trace system, which was about as far from it as it could have been." - Jean Thirtle, Catfield

"Every step has been later than it should have been." - Brian, 71, Breckland

"We should have had 10pm curfews to stop gatherings similar to other European countries." - John Gibbs, 64, Cromer

"I am a childminder and the support I have received personally from NCC has been fantastic - providing PPE, continuing to pay early years funding and even additional funding through the first lockdown. The government itself has been slow to act." - Anonymous

"District councils have done an outstanding job in supporting their communities." - Liz Withington, Sheringham

"The government didn't have a crystal ball." - Anonymous

"NCC did not do enough to support the school community. There was no leadership and they absolved themselves by handing control to heads, leading to a disparity of experience for school children. School children have paid for this and the poorest and most vulnerable will still suffer in the long term." - Mark Rose, 45, Gorleston

"I feel the lack of support from the government, the needless eat out to help out schemes, the wishy washy restrictions and loopholes as well as high profile people making their own rules has led to the public distrust in the regulations and restrictions." - Gemma Vincent, 37, Bradwell

"Everything has been made far worse by people not following the rules: this has been a problem all throughout the pandemic. The government cannot win." - Mr Holmes, Porringland

"A huge issue is the amount of Covid non-believers who continually undermine the government." - Anonymous