26 May 2022

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Is ending the lockdown going to divide us?
Adrian Leopard 293

Is ending the lockdown going to divide us?

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Are we so different from other European countries?

The lockdown has been with us for some weeks now; indeed there are some amongst us of higher risk who have been in lockdown for almost two months now so all in all, it is not surprising that some are beginning to tire of it. Fortunately, those who are keen to see it over soon are not in the majority – yet at least.

The Prime Minister on his return told us that he would not see all the effort the public had put into maintaining the lockdown wasted by ending it prematurely before the results justify it. Yesterday, four fifths of the population said that they would prefer it to continue until the risks are greatly reduced. What we do not know yet however is what an “acceptable level of risk” is going to be and this is what the political wrangling is going to be about..

While the UK maintains its stiff upper lip on this topic at the moment, other European countries are now actively talking about lifting the restrictions. Austria seems to be leading the way; pubs and bars are to open shortly and hotels will re-open at the end of May. Austria is certainly a beautiful country with a small population and large tracts of fabulous countryside and lakes and no doubt a wonderful place for a holiday as indeed are other European countries. Their latest figure of new cases is 83 and new deaths 20 so they are not completely out of the wood themselves but this is supposedly an acceptable risk – one which we would think was wonderful in the UK.

France too is relaxing its lockdown shortly with schools opening amongst other things.

Where this all gets a bit difficult is one country doing one thing and another doing something different and that is what could sink the UK if we are not careful. There was talk about European countries harmonising their approaches but this looks like it is not going to happen. After the latest announcement of deaths in the care home field in the UK, perhaps this is where the haemorrhage is taking place and it is certain we are far from ready to open the flood gates. So will the relaxation in rules in Europe mean that there will be a largely increased number of people wanting to come into Britain and British people perhaps deciding to make a hasty departure to foreign climes?

As I surmised over recent days, re-opening pubs and bars is a difficult move – one which, according to the government, will be the last one in our country. It will indeed be a matter of great interest to watch the Austrian move and see whether it is too early and whether new cases return.

Should the government close the border to visitors to the country until we relax our own lockdown? The professional advice is clear and getting louder that we must be careful and patient. What is worrying is that the voices to lift the lockdown sooner rather than later are also getting louder. I suspect that the public would rather see the new cases and deaths contained to far lower figures, including the deaths which are not being included in the official statistics. What we are seeing in the records is unfortunately misleading and we must ensure that we are not caught off guard. At least some clarity is now appearing as regards the true extent of the deaths and it is not a pretty picture.

Adrian Leopard 28-04-20

Photos Joss Woodhead

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