I feel quite conflicted on this and feel uncomfortable fully embracing either side of the argument. I’m by no means a ‘lockdown sceptic’, I absolutely think it was the right course of action and that it makes total sense to only start emerging gradually. However, I think there are some advocating a lockdown that is a little bit…’hysterical’, shall we say, …this idea that we can simply stay inside until there’s a tangible ‘change’. Trouble is, I don’t see what that kind of change will be – a vaccine, if they make one at all, could be years away, and test/tracing will probably take some time to get going as well.
In the meantime, the economy is taking a huge hit, businesses are closing down, people aren’t going to the hospital for other serious conditions (which will mean a high death rate later down the line) and people’s mental health is seriously suffering. We have to talk about ways of coming out of lockdown, but it needs to be done sensibly (I don’t think making everyone rush for the tubes is sensible at all!)
I do, however, agree that the government is right to allow us more liberty to exercise and I get annoyed when people go on about how we ‘police’ it. Of course, as we come out of lockdown bit-by-bit, enforcing the rules is going to be harder, that’s inevitable, so it’s going to increasingly rely on compliance and trust in the people. But if the science says it’s safe that we can exercise and meet one family member at 2m distance then I think we should be allowed to do that, regardless of whether it makes enforcing rules difficult – our aim is to come out of this, at the end of the day!
I’m not saying this is easy, and I totally agree we need caution every step of the way, but only today Slovenia has officially called an end to its epidemic, the German R rate only went up for two days but seems to be staying low, Norway is talking about a total lifting of restrictions in June etc. Now I know we can’t compare ourselves directly to these countries, we have been one of the hardest hit (and it’s going to take some time to full understand why that was), but we have to be hopeful, we have to see there is an end in sight and we have to move on from constant chatter of how we ‘enforce rules’ and instead talk about how we can sensibly lift them.