8th April 2020
If, by the end of this week, we face a further lockdown and if leaving home to take exercise is prohibited then it will be both the fault of a selfish and idiotic minority and very bad news indeed. The ability to go out for a walk, particularly for those living in flats without gardens, is essential for physical and mental health and we need to preserve that right if at all possible. Most people that I have observed, certainly in the rural area in which we live and, friends tell me even in Central London, also are taking great care to maintain the designated two-metre distance between themselves and others.
Sadly, there is, though, a group of people who refuse to accept the scientific wisdom that isolation is necessary to save life and protect the NHS, believes that they know best and feels that they have a God-given right to the “freedom” to do whatever they like and go wherever they like at the expense of not only others but very possibly of themselves as well. While on this point and while I understand the desire of small seafront outlets both to stay in business and, on a “take-away” basis, to continue to serve their customers our seafronts have to remain, for commercial purposes, closed. Superficially there is little difference between someone buying goods at a supermarket checkout and someone purchasing fish and chips from a seafront kiosk. The problem is, of course, that the availability of these services actually entices people to jump into cars, drive to the beach, buy food and then congregate. That is not acceptable and flies in the face of the spirit of what the rest of us are trying to achieve.
The objective – and at present the only objective – is to prevent the further spread of the Covid 19 virus, bring the pandemic under control, save lives, eradicate the disease and when possible and only then to get back to business. It is clear that there are still some that do not grasp that simple and straightforward policy but I do not believe that further confining the many to punish the moronic few is the answer. First, there are many young people who are fit and plain bored. If most activity is confined to the home, which may be a bedsitter or a one-bedroomed flat, then we have to be creative in offering activities for those young people not just to occupy minds for the most of the time when they are not out taking genuine exercise but also to enjoy. Carrot may well prove to be more effective than rigid stick.
If then, and while I abhor the concept of an authoritarian state, there are still those that insist upon having barbeques or beach parties as the summer approaches then the short answer is probably to hit the perpetrators in the pocket and to give the constabulary the right to issue meaningful on-the-spot fines.
I believe that most, although tragically not all, of us will come through this and out on the sunny side. We shall then face further challenges as we strive to rebuild what will be a shattered economy and as we struggle to return from the nightmare to normality. In the meantime, though, we simply must heed the advice offered, isolate insofar as is possible and practicable, and do our best to protect not only ourselves but, much more importantly, those that are taking very great risks to protect us.
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Many thanks and best wishes from us all.