We’re still in a pandemic, yet the Government is treating it as if it’s already over.
As shops, pubs, leisure centres and beauty salons continue to reopen there is a definite unease around. Many people continue to be worried by the prospect of doing what, until a few months ago, were ordinary things. It is because there is no reassurance or clear signs that it is genuinely going to curtail the virus.
Frankly, this has not been handled well at all by the UK Government. A poll conducted here showed all respondents agreeing with that. There have been several reports of the failure to act quick enough on lockdown measures may have contributed to deaths being twice as high as they could have been. These numbers are not a political statement. They are a reflection of poor strategy and lax message discipline, which continue to seep through.
Compared to the response in the other three home nations, serious questions remain about the situation in England. There have been few deaths in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the past few days, even factoring in smaller population sizes. And yet, when there were over 100 deaths in England yesterday, up considerably compared to previous weeks, people continued to take to the pubs.
I have also seen people dismissing these figures as a one-off, but what this pandemic has shown is the importance of analysing the data, and that wishful thinking does not help in reality.
Now there is talk of increasing the mandatory use of face coverings in settings such as shops. It’s a sensible message – but one that feels like it has been adopted far too late and handled poorly.
The Government are giving mixed messages here, with Boris Johnson seeming to promote stricter mask-wearing during a photo opportunity in his Uxbridge constituency. Meanwhile, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said in the Marr programme that he trusted people’s common sense on the issue. It does not clarify anything and further increases uncertainty.
You would think that over a few months, Number 10 would have learnt that they need to handle things better, not just rely on common sense and give a decisive message to people. Take the second “Boris Broadcast” which was possibly one of the worst public addresses made by a Prime Minister, and something that every in Number 10 should have been trying to avoid repeating.
Is it that they are trying to pass the blame to the individual? Or is it an admission that they have given up or feel economically threatened?
Either way, the response in the past few weeks seems to be designed for short term popularity rather than long term public health benefit.