- Writing from Quarantine, 23rd March 2020
- Writing from Quarantine, 25th March 2020
- Writing from Quarantine, 30th March 2020: Long Live Society
- Writing From Quarantine
- Writing From Quarantine, 8th April 2020
- Writing from Quarantine, 15th April 2020
- Writing from Quarantine: Politics and Science
- Writing from Quarantine: The University of Home
- Writing from Quarantine: Staying the Course
Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
So, we’re 8 weeks into lockdown and now they’re loosening restrictions. I can’t help but think it’s a bad idea. We may be past the peak, but we’re still consistently experiencing around 600 deaths per day. Given that the peak was at around 800-900 around the 21-22nd April, we still don’t seem to be fully on the downward curve as of yet. So why are we trying to loosen restrictions?
I understand that there are different outbreaks in this country, differing in different places and settings. The rate of infection, or the now-famous ‘R‘, in care homes is much higher than outside them for instance. And that may well mean that the figure are affecting a relatively small number of people. But although the restrictions aren’t being relaxed on care homes, it doesn’t seem to make sense to risk making the other outbreaks worse while we still haven’t gained control of the worst. Not to mention that if the virus can be transmitted into a care home or hospital, there’s no reason it can’t be transmitted out again.
You might well say that this loosening of restrictions is very limited and I would have to agree. Very little has changed in the way I have been going about my days, each one sharing that feeling of another Groundhog Day. But then, I’m not a manual worker (indeed, at the moment I’m barely a worker). Announcing that people with jobs in manufacturing or construction, or other jobs they cannot do from home, will be encouraged to go to work is a problem. For many, not using public transport will simply not be an option, particularly for those that live or work in London, a city in which driving is a nightmare and walking to work is simply impractical. That’s a risk in itself. Then there’s the risk of actually spreading the disease at work which, no matter how ‘Covid-secure‘ the government and employers claim a workspace is, always remains a possibility. Being more than 2 metres apart is not a guarantee, particularly in enclosed spaces, and aerosolised moisture droplets from breathing may linger in the air to be walked through by even someone who is social distancing. Putting the onus on employers to decide if their workers should return to work is subject to a conflict of interest between profits and public safety.
The messaging around the whole business was also a mess. Newspapers shouted beforehand from their front pages about the end of lockdown, which on the whole looked a lot like a briefing campaign by Number 10. The Telegraph rather tastelessly co-opting the title of of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography for its headline ‘The Long Road To Freedom‘. Monday saw a stream of clarifications and corrections, with Dominic Raab revealing himself as lacking knowledge of the specifics of the government policy he had supposedly agreed to. And don’t get me started on the ‘Stay Alert‘ slogan, or the lack of co-operation with the devolved governments – the Union could be a hard sell in Scotland after this.
So given how badly this seems to have gone, why attempt it in the first place? If the government were worried about the public not having the stamina to see this through, I understand that. But I disagree. We’re all tired of this. We’d all like to be allowed to see different people again. I’d like to be able to face turning on the news again, something that I have largely given up on out of frustration with the whole affair. But if that means placing others at risk of serious illness or death, then that’s not an acceptable option. If they’re worried about the economy, that’s not an unreasonable point. But a sustained outbreak, with a stream of excess deaths and business closures due to coronavirus having been contracted on the premises won’t make it better.
It’s an exhausting business, making it through a crisis, but we have to stay the course.