As we edge over fifty days of lockdown, the true picture of Britain slowly emerges from the dust. The dust however, has far from settled. Our death toll has reached over 33’000 and it continues to rise. Even though the number of deaths per day is on the decline, it’s pretty certain that we will reach the milestone of 40’000 within the next few weeks or month.
In the midst of this, Boris has announced the ease of lockdown, not surprisingly without its fair share of criticism. We are no longer told to ‘Stay Home’ but rather ‘Stay Alert’ as we can now venture out as far as we like for our daily exercise. We can also meet one person outside of our family homes, providing we adhere to social distancing. The big news however, was the return phase for children to go back to school from the 1st of June. Which had begun the torrid, age old war between the trade unions and government.
The consensus is, it is not yet safe for children to return. Whilst those on the opposing side are rallying for the heroes (in this case the teachers) to return to work and free our children. Either way, it seems children once again have become the pawns on both sides and their education has become politicised. I wonder if it all works out, if we will have a dedicated time slot each week, to clap for teachers as well.
Soon after Boris made the announcement, very quickly and not surprisingly social media became a political hot-spot, with even famous celebrities, producing satires of his message, which was expected. People were quick to pick up the flaws of his speech about easing lockdown, like it was a competition on who can critique the government in the wittiest possible way, rather than sense the magnitude of the situation we are currently in. The one thing that I could take from all of this, was how those who criticised the government the most, are also the ones who are reliant on every word they say.
Common sense seems to delude the public, as they seem to want everything to be spelled out to them, rather than understand and decipher a message. What is it about keeping and adhering to social distancing as much as you can, regardless of where you are and who you meet along with washing your hands, so hard to understand? This is after all, the only real remedy. There are no vaccines or preventable medicine at this time. If you don’t feel safe to go out you don’t have to and even the Employment Act gives you the right not to go to work, if you fear for your safety.
It sometimes feel like the public want the government to come down harder on them, than they already have. Like a fetish or lucid fantasy, where they want the government to chastise them and call them a ‘naughty boy/girl’. It’s scary to imagine, how the public without realising, are romanticising and even hoping for more authoritarian rules. Make no mistake, lockdown is a police state, the reason behind why we are in lockdown, is irrelevant. We are currently living as close to an authoritarian rule than ever before in modern history. And although it may not be anything like China or a ‘Stalin’ type regime, it’s the closest we hopefully ever will get.
Pandemic as I read in an article today only goes away, in two different ways. One: If the virus disappears. Two: If society no longer makes it an issue and moves on with their lives. Meaning, sometimes the fears of a pandemic is in our minds and it’s greater than the actual real threat of it. Once we lose the fear, we lose the pandemic.
The real question now is what happens in the the aftermath when we finally end lockdown. There is no doubt we will enter a global recession and the cost of which is going to hit us – the public, hard. It’s a sad state of affair that within the space of 12 years we are now going to have two recessions, taking away so much from the current and future generations. As the government extends Furlough for another four months, the cost of the rescue package has reached a staggering £124 billion. This will need to be now paid for by us- the taxpayers, with a rise of income tax more or less likely.
London TFL has announced a 1% hike in fare prices, with people who have Freedom Passes, to have their travels limited. Congestion charges for motorists will increase to £15 from £11. There are discussions that children will no longer be able to travel free on transport. Can you imagine if that was the case? A city where thousands of children have the right to travel for free on transport to get to school and move around London independently, stripped away, making their parents/carers cough up the cost. This all announced within the first two months on lockdown and make no mistakes, this is the just the tip of the iceberg.
As we move forward, we will see more cuts in essential public services, like there had been under ‘austerity’ for the last decade, to cover the costs we are now building up. Meaning, the long term effect of lockdown will put more vulnerable people at risks and maybe even more deaths. We would have to be living in some kind of twilight zone, to think the Tory government will not come harsh down on essential public services to make up for the money they have promised us now.
So, as we move forward with ease of lockdown, applying our foremost gift of common sense is a priority. We need to protest the right moves instead of the ones certain sectors of the anti- government hit squad are glamorising. Making satirical analysis of which friends or family we can meet outside of our homes shouldn’t be high on our list to analyse. These are nothing compared to the real and harsh changes which are happening to our systems, that we need to shout and scrutinise now. When Covid 19 is a distant memory, the long term effect of the lockdown will hit our country and our individual lives, will we be that sympathetic when it does? What will the ones who are asking the government to spend more money now, say, when the government asks for that money to be paid back? We might be helping the vulnerable now, but is what we are advocating for now, helping them in the long term for which the effects will be far longer and more stringent?