It cannot have escaped your attention, if you’ve even so much as poked your nose out of doors, that this lockdown is much busier than the last. In March you could walk down the middle of main roads; no-one was about, nearly all shops were shut and the schools were eerily silent. This time there’s a lot more traffic on the roads, more shops are open and we know that many more children are in schools because the government have said it’s OK to send them if you need to. Nurseries are still open and don’t even get me started on football: why is that still happening?
As Jon so astutely pointed out (see comment on previous post) money is at the bottom of it. I sympathise with a great many people over this; it’s one thing to suspend your livelihood for three months but quite another to build it up over the summer only to have to shut down again over the winter. And we’ve still no idea when the end will come; this thing could go on for eighteen months or longer. It could be years before it’s gone – if it ever does go.
I don’t mean to be gloomy. But if we learn one thing from the pandemic surely it has to be that money is not the most important thing in life.
These are strange times; we’re all getting used to a new normal but surely by now the risks are clear, so the idea that wearing a mask or social distancing is an infringement on individual liberty ought not to be given credence. Wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet on a motorbike is also an infringement on our liberties: I don’t like doing either of these things but I do them, not only because it’s the law but because I see that it’s necessary: if I come off my bike without a helmet or crash the car with no seatbelt on, chances are I’ll die. But Covid isn’t just about me, it’s about all those with whom I come into contact. You might argue that you can put yourself in danger, but putting others in danger is not your decision to make. Not to mention that you’ll be putting the NHS under an even greater strain.
The trouble with where we are now is that we have a government that is not trusted by the majority of the people and which doesn’t lead by example. Dominic Cummings did huge damage to public compliance and Johnson’s refusal to sack him compounded that damage. And now, as millions stay in lockdown, there’s a question over whether he should have been cycling seven miles from home. OK he could have been on a long bike ride but the thing about being a leader who sets the rules is that you not only have to do the right thing but also to be seen to do the right thing – and this is something Johnson utterly fails to grasp. It’s a bit late to start invoking public spiritedness when you’re in a government which espouses libertarian values and awards massive public contracts to its cronies just because it can, not to mention a government which has dithered and delayed to such an extent that people no longer know what the rules actually are.
There will be a reckoning for this government but in the meantime stay safe out there and if you need someone to talk to be aware that I always respond to comments. Failing that, chat to someone on Facebook, phone a friend or call the Samaritans. Don’t suffer in silence.