Lockdown 2020 – how’s it going for you? As the UK enters its seventh week of lockdown measures imposed by the government, there seems very little light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the returning prime minister’s rather cavalier claims on Friday that we are past the peak, we still feel a long, long way from normality or at least the version of normality we thought we knew.
Every utterance from each different ‘expert’ or government minister sends mixed messages – there’s talk of an easing of lockdown measures, perhaps a gradual return to school for our children, while others claim social distancing measures may need to remain in place for much longer yet.
The Premier League are talking about resuming the stalled season as soon as June 8th, behind closed doors at possibly up to 10 neutral venues in a bid to conclude the season, decide on the champions, European place and the relegation places.
So where do we really stand at the moment?
The ‘new normal’
In standing in for the absent British PM, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that we need to prepare ourselves for a “new normal”, with major changes in working practices, a continuation of some form of social distancing and a number of other changes in our day-to-day lives.
Will we be obliged to wear face masks in public, or at least, when we enter shops or banks? One-way systems in shops may remain, as might plastic screens at tills and cash payments are to be discouraged.
Restrictions may be placed on public and customer toilets. In factories, the two-metre rule will remain and staff will be encouraged to change into workwear at home, with fewer staff on shifts to maintain the physical distancing. Staggered start and finish times would attempt to lessen rush-hour crushes on public transport.
Certain sectors will re-emerge faster than others – essential and outdoor work such as construction may come first; restaurants, bars and nightclubs way down the pecking order. Schools might see a reduction in class sizes, or cohorts may need to alternate the days on which the children attend.
It all seems so messy – we are clearly not in a position to re-open the country at the moment where such half-baked fudges are being thrown around.
Not so entertaining
And what of the entertainment industry or the sports industry? Empty cinemas, theatres and stadia will surely have to remain – gatherings in the dozens or hundreds in the case of theatre and cinema, or thousands in sports stadia simply can’t happen until there is a confirmed vaccine, pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity is achieved, and how long will that take?
Even if professional sport resumed on a behind-closed-doors basis, who would want to watch? Zero atmosphere and the players and staff still potentially at risk, with over 200 people likely to be involved in a single Premier League match.
This can’t last forever
I understand the need to look forward to how we can reboot daily life – we can’t remain in lockdown forever. But any loosening of restrictions MUST be driven primarily by safety and not on economic considerations.
Of course, the government can’t furlough employees forever. We have no real way of knowing how much all this is costing, and for now, the previously non-existent Magic Money Tree is proving a lifesaver to millions.
The UK had a two-week‘ head start’ in terms of seeing the impact of Covid-19 in places like Italy and Spain yet chose to do nothing. Nothing since then has given me any confidence that the government can handle things competently going forward.