It’s been an extraordinary few days and an even more extraordinary few weeks. Today is Tuesday 12th May 2020, and it’s day 50 of the total lockdown of the UK, a result of this terrible Covid-19 pandemic. Like most countries in the world, the UK has been in lockdown where we have had to stay at home and not go out at all, except for one short daily exercise, for food or medicine shopping, or if necessary to go to work. Today, however is the last day of the total lockdown here in England, from tomorrow that changes.
The message up to now has been a simple one. Stay home > Protect the NHS > Save lives. Now it’s changed to Stay alert > Control the virus > Save lives. Many people, especially some dim breakfast TV presenters, have said how unclear and confusing that message is. But I don’t think it is, I think it’s entirely clear and very sensible.
Two days ago, Boris – you know who he is – addressed the nation, in a TV broadcast watched by 30 million people. He said that the total lockdown rules were going to be slightly amended to allow us some small additional freedoms that have been denied us for the last seven weeks. But there seems to be confusion, especially in the media, as to what the changes are and what the new message means.
Let’s just remember here for a moment that this Covid-19 pandemic is entirely new, it differs from previous Coronavirus outbreaks, and so there is no ‘guidebook’ on how to deal with it. Our government, and all other governments in the world, are dealing with it as best they can. We hear regularly from the scientists on what they now know, and, of course, the more they know, the better we can deal with it. The perceived wisdom now seems to be that you are much more likely to contract the virus if you are indoors and in close proximity to other people, where you can also pick it up from touching infected surfaces.
You are much less likely to get it when you are outside.
The current guidelines, which of course are now seven weeks out of date, are being amended now as some of it was wrong, or perhaps it’s better to say, unnecessary. For instance it has not been possible to sit on a park bench or to lie on the grass somewhere to sunbathe. Those two things contradict the rule about only going out for exercise once a day for about an hour. The change is that we can now go out of the house to exercise as often as we want and can stop, sit and sunbathe if we want to. There is no danger in that, provided social distancing rules are obeyed. They are the key to everything at the moment. We now know there is no danger to anyone if we are on our own away from others. What we do need to do is make sure we stay at least 2 metres away from other people. Social distancing is what matters.
From tomorrow we can also drive somewhere first to take our exercise. So tomorrow I could drive to Southampton, a journey of three hundred and fifty miles, walk around for five minutes, and then drive back again. I am NOT going to be doing that, but it is now permissible.
Boris has come in for some criticism. That woman in Scotland (Jimmy Krankie) says that Boris is wrong to remove the ‘Stay home’ message as it’s too soon to do so. She’s wrong and Boris is right. What she needs to remember is that the virus reached Scotland a little later that it did in England so perhaps it’s better to say at home if you are in Scotland, but in England the time has come for a small change.
So I think the new message is clear. We don’t need to stay at home all the time now, but we do still need to be alert, avoid other people and protect ourselves, and consequently other people too. Obviously staying at home is still the best way to avoid contracting the virus, but if we are sensible and alert, we can go out more and still be safe. So stay alert and avoid other people, wash your hands, be sensible and you will be able to control the virus and will save lives. So I understand the new message from Boris, it’s clear to me:
Stay alert > Control the virus > Save lives. Simple.
But I also have one of my own, it’s similar, just perhaps a little bit more optimistic:
Be careful > It’s nearly the weekend > Drink gin.