It is sad that we are already starting to see the erosion of the freedoms we had only just begun to enjoy again. It is likely to get worse before it gets better…
The interesting thing about being someone who is unfailingly middle ground and usually able to see – and even empathise with – both sides of an argument, is the people it can lead to disagreements with often. When it comes to Covid, these often involve the interchange of various bits of science which all contradict each other.
On the latest coronavirus announcements – the controversial new ‘rule of six’ and the establishment of marshals to police that people are adhering to the rules – social media lit up and I’ve found myself debating two extremes.
No, wearing masks is not like being forced to hide in an attic by the Nazis – despite the suggestion of a popular meme with a picture of Anne Frank which says: ‘The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law. The people who killed her were following it.’
No, quarantines aren’t like being a Jew in Nazi occupied Europe. And no, the new Covid Marshals are unlikely to be anything like WW2 Gestapo.
Even the worst privations of the most stringent moments of lockdown we’ve had to face are still nothing compared to life under the Nazis. This is obvious, surely?
And also no – if we turn to the other end of the spectrum – now that we are cutting down on parties and family gatherings because numbers are going up does not mean we should close all the schools, pubs, restaurants and stop going to work just because you are worried about getting sick.
Covid extremists fall into two groups who (also interestingly) don’t necessarily normally have much in common. Thus, a few weeks ago you had the British Union of Fascists demonstrating with David Icke and Jeremy Corbyn’s even whackier big brother Piers against the very idea of lockdown and quarantine. On this very extreme – some might say completely bonkers – end you’ve got people who even deny the presence or the danger of Coronavirus and who are determined anti-vaxxers.
At the other end of the extreme are those who believe we should all lock ourselves away in cotton wool until a vaccine is found. No school, no work, everyone just staying at home making sourdough. I’m assuming most of these people have large private incomes and no children who need to be educated. They don’t seem to understand that if we close pubs, shops, restaurants, hair salons before we have to, then unemployment and huge poverty will create a whole new issue.
On the slightly less extreme are the whingers. I’m sure you know them. They’ll latch onto the latest rules and demand if you can’t do x why you can do y. They want to bang on about the deprivation of having to quarantine after flying abroad in the middle of a global pandemic or having to cancel a party. They moan that they have to go to work but aren’t allowed to attend a rave at the weekend. They say life is so dreadful under these rules they’d rather get ill.
Yes, its awful. Yes, our Government has made it worse with its mixed and confusing messaging, the shambles over testing and track and trace, and the huge and horrific errors it made during the first wave. And yes, it’s all very, very depressing.
But we are in the middle of a global pandemic. A. Global. Pandemic.
For all its stumbling, this is a Government trying to let us have our freedoms, educate our children and stop businesses from closing down while trying to ensure we don’t all get really sick at the same time as each other. And I don’t understand why the extremists and the whingers don’t get this. Because when it comes to attempting to make the nation happy, safe and keep their jobs, everyone is going to have to compromise.
We are about to enter flu season. Many moons ago I was a health correspondent for a local newspaper and saw how bad things were in NHS hospitals – the shortage of staff, resources, beds. And things have been much, much worse after a decade of underfunding.
In December last year, when the world had never heard of Covid-19, NHS trusts were already being forced to cancel operations, divert ambulances from busy A & Es and leave patients on trolleys for days. With Covid-19, it is only going to get worse.
Covid isn’t flu but the closest idea we have of a global pandemic is what happened with the Spanish flu just over 100 years ago. The second wave was much, much worse than the first. While the situation is different, this is going to be a tough winter where we face the normal annual flu plus Covid.
I already know three people who have been in hospital with Covid, and two other people who remain really sick with the after-affects three months on. I don’t want to get sick but as I also want my children to be educated and my local high street not to die, so I send them to school and go shopping. Compromise.
It is sad that we are already starting to see the erosion of the freedoms we had only just begun to enjoy again. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. For stating this I’ve been called a naïve fool as well as a heartless person who doesn’t mind people getting sick. But really, I am just stating the obvious – which is somewhere in the middle of what the extremists would have you believe.
Photo credit: Sky News