We in the UK have the best Covid-19 vaccination rate in Europe. This is no small achievement and I applaud it.
But hold on. We have a weak, half hearted “lockdown”, and the UK has the worst death rate in the world. This is very bad. We are stumbling around this crisis with no direction; we have no specified conditions for lifting the lockdown, no plan for reopening schools, to clue when or if working from home stops being mandatory, no understanding of what is happening tomorrow or the day after. All of this uncertainty and confusion is hurting people now, quite badly in some cases.
Parents are going slowly insane with no idea when or if their children are to return to schools, and many are juggling work commitments with childcare demands. For those of us with special needs children this is especially hard, and there is a feeling of being totally abandoned. For teachers the lack of protection over the last two months have caused many Covid infections and the abandonment is felt even harder.
People aren’t taking it seriously.
Border controls are too little, too late. Hence the first point about worst death rate in the world. I look at New Zealand with immense envy. They, like us, are a nation of two islands, and they’ve got it right, they have their lives back, so…. why can’t we?
People here aren’t taking it seriously, people aren’t really staying at home or limiting travel to essential journeys only. This is not a situation of deserted streets and ghost towns with barely a twitching curtain.
None of this is surprising considering the limp efforts at putting the message out, with Boris Johnson refusing to even use the word “lockdown” because of it’s implications. When you look back at last year’s ridiculous Eat Out To Help Out, and the Cummings incident, there’s little wonder people have snubbed the restrictions or bent the rules as far as they can. There’s no respect for the virus or its effects like there was in the beginning.
Back in March 2020, the country was truly locked down. I recall agonising whether or not to visit my dying mother (cancer, not covid), several times a week. I recall driving down the A14 on Easter Sunday, a bizarrely empty road which I am very used to travelling; even on bank holidays it has been busy, but on that day I had an apocalyptic feeling about it, becasue it was devoid of traffic for miles upon miles. I felt deeply out of place and naughty for even leaving the house.
Everything has changed. That feeling of lockdown, of empty roads, of apocalyptic survival, has been replaced by a vague notion of limiting one’s activities if that’s possible, or if not don’t worry about it.
Ahead of us lies only chaos
The situation in the UK with Coronavirus is comparable to a forest ablaze, but with the most high powered firehoses in the world being used to fight it. Wouldn’t it be better if we took the matches away from the pyromaniac squirrels in the trees? Perhaps trace those firestarting rodents and track their contacts with others? And what is the overall plan for regrowing and reopening the forest once the flames are out? There is no plan. Track and trace, forget it, not working. Plans for afterwards, no idea. Ahead of us right now lies only chaos and wide open risks.
We are crying out for the government to be clear with us, to spell it out. We need to be told this is apocalyptic and we can only survive by taking it seriously. For that to work, we must be given some simple facts to cling to: What’s the target, and what’s the plan for getting there? Surely we should be aiming for the R number to be 0 and for ‘Zero Covid’ as a whole? Nobody, and I mean nobody, in government has stood up and said what we are trying to achieve here. There is no clear goal and no clear way of getting there.
So, dear UK government, where is the plan? Where is the strategy? You call yourselves a government so govern us. Don’t just blurt out slogans and catchphrases. Plan, strategise and lead. Right now.