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Leaving lockdown

People are scared , scared of a number of things, the virus, a second wave of infections, losing loved ones, losing their livelihoods, their jobs , their security, their freedom.

And when people are scared they look to their leaders.

It has become clear that the UK handling of the crisis has been a mixed bag, there have been some good policies, the chancellor’s furlough scheme was brave , innovative and to many a godsend.

The stay at home messaging was clear and concise.

The quick response in building the nightingale hospitals and the way the NHS quickly adapted is also commendable.

But there are also questions to answer

Why we got the PPE so wrong , while we have to except that sourcing PPE was always going to be difficult we tended to make it more so, from the lack of engagement of offers from British suppliers, the Turkey debacle and the convoluted method of procurement setting one trust against the other.

Add to that we started from a bad position having allowed our stocks of PPE to be in a perilous situation.

The confusing “stay alert” slogan has also been a low point.

Care homes are another issue under the spotlight and while this issue is far more nuanced they do themselves no favours with the ‘ring of protection’ claim , a preposterous and dishonest claim.

The two things that perhaps stick out the most is the delay in locking down the country , we have seen with countries that have locked down sooner that have fared better on the whole. Alongside this the inability to play to out biggest strength. We are an island nation that has continually failed to lock down its borders. Why?

Secondly the slow response to testing, perhaps the one thing that exasperated the problem in our country was the lack of capacity for test, trace and isolate. Countries that adapted this straight away in some instances have avoided full lockdown.

So as we look to plot a path out of lockdown it is vital the government get the trust of the people.

There have been too many lies, deception and slight of hand. What proved exceptionally successful during the brexit campaign is not what is called for here.

Slight of hands about the volume of tests, meaningless slogans and dishonest sound bites need to be ditched in favour of a honest conversation.

We need our schools back but we need it done safely, we need factories to open again but it needs to be done carefully.

Like many of us I throw in my two tuppence worth from the sidelines thankful that I am not the one in power making these quite literally life or death decisions.

So with that caveat here are my thoughts

  1. A comprehensive test track and isolate policy is vital until a medical solution is found. We need to look at countries that have been successful and copy them.

  2. We need to encourage British manufacturers to produce PPE and test kits to a high standard and in bulk, incentivising this activity where necessary.

  3. We need to look at how we can mitigate for the economy, things like Trident 2 and the high speed rail link need to be re-evaluated. Perhaps even more radically we need to look at how we judge success as GDP and growth may not be the correct plum lines in the day’s ahead.

  4. We need to ensure workspaces and schools are safe and have the best equipment to keep them safe.

  5. Face masks in public should be a necessary and we need to look at how effective face masks can be produced not only for frontline workers but also key workers and then the public at large.

  6. All the way through this we need to re-evaluate and adjust as we learn more about the virus and hopefully we find a vaccine or supper anti viral drugs.

Life might not be normal for a long time. I could even argue that perhaps what was normal may not be desirable but that is for another blog and another time.

In the meantime whoever you are and whatever your political allegiances, stay safe and see you in the other side.

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