1st July 2020
While I do not wish to be unduly pessimistic we are, I fear, in some danger of risking a resurgence of the Covid 19 Pandemic and throwing away the gains that have been won at a colossal physical, emotional and economic cost.
We clearly have to return to some sense of normality in out personal and business lives. Shops, restaurants and cafes , public houses and bars and all of the other services that we all use and depend upon have to be allowed, carefully, to re-open if they are not to be lost together. We all understand that both in parliament and in society. While some enterprises and most particularly arts venues are still of necessity closed and facing very extreme financial pressures, and while those who earn their livings from those venues are equally paying a disproportionate price, we are now, cautiously, at the point where at the coming weekend much of England will be once again open for business. That business will, though, have to be conducted under highly restrictive conditions and even with the reduction of the `social distance` from two metres to `one metre plus` many food and drink outlets are going to find it very difficult to configure their premises in a way that conforms to regulations and still allows them to serve a sufficient number of customers to make the task worthwhile and commercially viable.
While most businesses are being required to jump through hoops in order to re-open and while some are still barred from trading completely it is, it seems, in order for the Great British Public to tip out of the cities, head for the coast and then congregate on beaches in a manner that is almost guaranteed to spread infection if there is any going.
Operating at present still in isolation I have yet to visit the seafront myself but those on Team Gale who have done so bring back a tale of two nations. On the one hand there is a socially responsible majority arriving patiently, parking lawfully, carefully keeping family distance, removing their picnic rubbish with them and returning home after an enjoyable day out. On the other hand there is a majority that arrives raucously, parks carelessly and illegally with no thought of the obstruction caused to others or to emergency vehicles, intrudes upon other people`s space on the beach, drinks alcohol to the point of insensibility and leaves their mess and filth for others to pay to have cleared up after they have left.
We rely upon our seafronts for our livelihoods in the coastal town of England. We want and need to be able to enjoy a good summer holiday season and we want people to be able to come to Margate and to Herne Bay and to have a good time. If the moronic, selfish and irresponsible minority have their way, however, then we shall lose this summer season in its entirety. There is already a growing clamour to `close the beaches` and if the anti-social behaviour is allowed to continue then that clamour will turn into a deafening roar. It may be that some fairly draconian measures will have to be considered. We may, for example, have to limit the numbers allowed on the beach at any one time as we already do on health and safety grounds for many other indoor and outdoor venues. It may be, also, that we have to divert traffic, once capacity has been reached, away from the coast completely. None of this ought to be necessary if common sense prevails but one thing is certain: Covid 19 has not yet been defeated. It is still with us and if we do not want to head into another lockdown in the Autumn or before then we have to proceed with care for each other and for ourselves. The alternative does not bear too much thinking about.