THERE have been few stories big enough to take the attention away from Covid-19, but the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the demonstrations that have followed in the US and across the world, has been one of them.

Even then, there is a virus link. Scotland’s First Minister, the UK Home Secretary, and others had urged protesters not to gather in large numbers for fear of spreading the virus.

But the London demo had gone ahead, and as the Sunday shows aired more marches were due to take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other cities.

The two subjects were brought together in the opening monologue of The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1.

“Now here’s a direct question for everybody watching,” said Marr. “How scared are you?

“It’s a really important question because both polling and anecdotal evidence suggest we are now a country quite divided about Covid-19. Many of us are still very fearful, wearing masks, mostly staying inside, flinching if anyone comes nearer than two metres to us. But many others have concluded that in effect it’s all over. No more lockdown, back to life as it ought to be.”

Turning to the Black Lives Matter marches across Britain, he added: “A righteous cause, and many people tried hard to socially distance but was the virus not still passing between the protesters? If ever there was a week when we needed clear answers about how scared we ought to be, this is it.”

Among Marr’s guests was Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Prof Edmunds, who attends meetings of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said now was not the time for complacency.

“It’s definitely not all over. There is an awful long way to go. If we do relax our guard this epidemic will come back very fast.”

Prof Edmunds told Marr the UK should have gone into lockdown earlier.

“It would have been hard to do it, I think the data that we were dealing with in the early part of March and our kind of situational awareness was really quite poor.

“It would have been very hard to pull the trigger at that point but I wish we had - I wish we had gone into lockdown earlier. I think that has cost a lot of lives unfortunately.”

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Marr put the professor’s point to Matt Hancock, England’s Health Secretary. Did he agree that lockdown should have come earlier?

“No. I think we took the right decisions at the right time,”he said. “There’s a broad range on Sage of scientific opinion and we were guided by the science, which means guided by the balance of that opinion – as expressed to ministers through the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser. That’s the right way for it to have been done.”

Asked if he was sure that locking down when they did had not cost lives, he said: “I’m sure that taking into account everything we knew at that moment, my view is that we made the right decisions at the right time.”

On his way into the BBC to meet Marr, Mr Hancock stopped outside the building for a live interview with Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday. As he spoke, a scene played out in the background which illustrated Marr’s points about the division in society between the “scared” and “they think it’s all over” camps. There were several groups of cyclists not maintaining distance, people chatting close together, and an empty bus, unusual for London even on a Sunday morning.

Host Sophy Ridge appeared to catch the Minister by surprise when she asked how many black people were in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

“There’s a whole series of people from a black and minority ethnic background,” said Mr Hancock, citing the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel. When Ridge interrupted to ask about black members of Cabinet, Mr Hancock said he had previously served with Kwasi Kwarteng, former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union, and now Energy Minister.

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“Boris Johnson has a very good record on this,” said Mr Hancock. “It brings people in and listens to a diversity of views. It’s diversity of thought that’s the really important thing when you are taking those big decisions around the Cabinet table.”

So people from black backgrounds shouldn’t worry there wasn’t a single person from a black background at the Cabinet table because there was “diversity of thought”?

Ridge does have a way with a rejoinder, as when she told Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, appearing on her show at the height of Barnard Castle-gate: “I’m sure it is very disappointing not to be able to talk about the A66 as much as you’d like to on the programme.”

There is no such thing any more as an easy like Sunday morning interview.

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