Mixed messages over lockdown

“A person hears only what they understand” said Goethe, a German statesman and literary figure who lived from 1749 to 1832, and if you are in one of the vulnerable categories to Covid-19, you could be forgiven for not entirely understanding where we are with the handling of the pandemic.

Acting on the latest medical advice, on Tuesday, June 23 the prime minister decided to reopen large sections of the economy in England on Saturday, July 4, but this is against the backdrop of scientific misgivings – and Rye Mutual Aid will continue to be pro-active in meeting local needs in these uncertain times.

The chief medical officer said: “If people hear a distorted version of what’s being said, that says ‘this is all fine now, it’s gone away’ and start behaving in ways that they normally would have before this virus happened, yes, we will get an uptick for sure.

“It is absolutely critical people stick to the guidance that has been given, and it’s a changed guidance for there are still very significant restrictions socially and there are very significant restrictions on business of different sorts.”

In announcing the latest changes, the prime minister acknowledged that this could be one of the biggest calls of his premiership. “Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and shops, but it would be all too easy for that frost to return.”

From Saturday, July 4 the easing of restrictions in England will include those on pubs, bars, hairdressers, restaurants and some cinemas. They will all have to meet a “series of mitigations”, yet to be fully specified. These may mean that the way a business reopens is almost unrecognisable.

Shoppers are gradually returning to Rye

The overall government guidance remains that individual distancing is still to be maintained. Where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, people are advised to keep “one metre plus” distance and to be strict about all the “mitigations”, such as the wearing face coverings, facing away from others, hand-washing and sanitising surfaces. Vulnerable people need to take careful note and adhere to this.

A glance around Rye today (Wednesday) indicates that at the open shops and the groups coming from the beaches, other than the many Covid-19 shop signs, there is a general sense of normality returning to the streets. It also appears that many citizens are simply not buying the theme of mortal dread and universal doom any longer.

“Alarming for those who feel vulnerable”

But this can feel alarming for those who either feel, or have been advised that they are, vulnerable to the worst impacts of the virus. The advice must be to continue to avoid close contacts in public areas and take whatever measure is necessary to keep your distance.

Rye Mutual Aid, with support from REACT, have taken soundings from some of the many people it is helping and will continue to provide community support to those in the vulnerable categories and remaining in isolation for whatever reason, who ask for it across the 21 zones of Rye and district.

We know that health leaders are calling for a further review to determine whether Britain is prepared for a second wave, should that come. There are signs in other countries, particularly in Asia, that relaxation of measures is followed by the return of infection.

The British Medical Association was joined by other health organisations representing all those who work in the NHS to just say: “While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk. Many elements of the infrastructure necessary to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.”

But social distancing is still very important … even in a queue outside Boots  – but difficult with Rye’s narrow pavements

The health organisations go on to say that the Government should “require the public to wear face coverings in settings other than public transport, where keeping your distance from people is problematic. Such places might include supermarkets and shops, but it could be more difficult to enforce the measure at bars and restaurants”.

Therefore the Rye Mutual Aid effort to manufacture face coverings will also continue.

Whatever comes along in the next weeks, and however confusing the key messages, Rye Mutual Aid plans to continue until it is very clear that the virus is firmly under control.

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .

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  1. I listened to the PM, CMO and CSO, they were all perfectly clear. The BBC 6 pm news immediately following the press conference opened with the statement, “The 2 meter rule has been scrapped”. That was untrue, misleading and perhaps, in pursuit of a political agenda, designed to feed the “Confusion” message that this article also promotes. I do not know when this piece was written, but the government has issued detailed guidance for those business able to open.

    At the start of this there were, I think, two choices. The Spanish Flu model – let millions die until it burns out, or secondly, the path our, and other, governments have taken. Fighting ‘fog’ is an unenviable task, especially when those who should or could help are more concerned with making political points.

    There have been mistakes in navigating uncharted territory. There have been triumphs too. Friends from all over the world are in awe of the governments boldness in dealing economically with the challenges. They also praise the outstanding contribution of our scientists in research and mounting the biggest trials in the world. The constant carping and concentration on any difficulty, real or imagined is one of the most depressing aspects of the pandemic. The way in which figures are compared without context. The – ‘Korea does it better’ without bothering to mention that that is because the Korean government have accessed everyone’s records – Banking, Credit Card transaction and so on. Imagine the outcry if that had happened here. We have all been asked to behave sensibly and follow the rules. They are clear and to suggest otherwise is really rather patronising.

    It is perhaps irritating for many that the government has gone beyond any other on the planet in its response. I offer another quotation from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” I think we are at the start of a winning game.

  2. It must be irritating that in this game of chess we have lost according to the ONS an excess of 65,000 pawns. Maybe not yet Grandmaster status. Maybe we are in a remake of Ingmar Bergmans “The Seventh Seal”

  3. Excellent article. Given the uptick in hospitalisation in those US states that opened before the virus was under control, the precautionary principle applies.


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