Britain DRILLED to accept lockdown in future pandemics

Britain has been drilled to comply with lockdown under a future pandemic, the chief executive of the ‘nudge unit’ has said.Professor David Halpern told The Telegraph that the country had “practised the drill” of wearing face masks and working from home and “could redo it” in a future crisis.Last Tuesday, Matt Hancock told the public inquiry that Britain must be ready to combat future disease outbreaks with wider, earlier and more stringent lockdowns.Speaking on the Lockdown Files podcast, the government adviser Prof Halpern predicted that the country would comply with another ‘stay at home’ order because they “kind of know what the drill is”.

In an interview given before Mr Hancock’s testimony, the leading behavioural scientist even suggested that the nation’s prior experience made it “much easier to now imagine” the population would accept future local restrictions.Prof Halpern said that while fear-based messaging in general is not effective, he defended its use in extreme circumstances. 

“There are times when you do need to cut through… particularly if you think people are wrongly calibrated,” he said.The suggestion that Britain might be primed to accept further social-distancing restrictions is likely to alarm lockdown-sceptics concerned by the collateral damage such measures cause.When the pandemic hit, Mr Hancock’s department enlisted the professor’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) – better known as the ‘nudge unit’ – to provide them with “frictionless access to behavioural expertise”, according to a £1 million contract.BIT used earworm slogans such as ‘hands, face, space’ to maximise compliance with Covid rules.In his most wide-ranging interview since March 2020, Prof Halpern explained that his unit’s campaigns were devised to help reinforce new behaviours.