Earlier this month Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s taoiseach, and Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, each faced a fraught dilemma. Coronavirus infection rates were falling and the economic devastation from lockdowns was rising, tilting the calculus towards easing restrictions.
But some experts said it was too soon, that infection rates were still too high, that testing and contact-tracing systems were not ready and that the pandemic would roar back.
Varadkar extended Ireland’s lockdown to 18 May. Johnson rolled the dice and began to unlock – at least for England, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland stuck with the “stay home” recommendation.