As the leaves on our pre autumnal leaves start to change colour and fall, the chaos that is 2020 remains very far from receding. A look at recent trends show that the infection rate is once again beginning to rise and the Academy of Medical Sciences is predicting a winter with up to 120,000 Covid related deaths if the Government doesn’t get its act together and start to make effective preparations.
We are all confused. Safety processes vary from place to place and day by day. We need clear guidance and support to minimise the risk of Covid19 whilst maintaining an economy that can support an increasing number of vulnerable people at this different time.
But the information we receive is so contradictory that it only serves to make a confused public even more confused. To illustrate this I am highlighting three different articles published in the news today. A piece from the Daily Mail (right wing) suggesting we get on with our lives and ignore the virus, a piece from the Guardian (left wing) calling people who do not take the threat of the virus seriously enough ‘Covidiots’ and a piece from the BBC (allegedly centrist) confirming a significant jump in diagnosed coronavirus cases in the last 2 days.
The Mail wants us to ‘reclaim our old lives’
For the Mail it is all about the economy.
The Guardian are concerned that returning to work and school and trying to live normal lives will have a massive impact of the health of the public.
The Guardian are concerned about Covid denial and worry that the laid back post lockdown attitude has led to reckless behaviour which is putting people at greater risk.
This partisan approach by the papers illustrates the divide in the country and the growing schism between people who want to minimise risk and people who want to maximise profit. The divide is the direct result of the inability of the government to maintain a clear direction throughout the pandemic.
Two months ago many people were forbidden to go to work, shielding was in place, huge swaithes of the country were in lockdown and the infection rate was dropping to reflect these measures.
Then the government panicked about the economy, ordered people back to work, opened leisure facilities and schools and to nobody’s surprise the infection rate has started to rise as a result.
We are now in a position where we simply don’t know what to do. We have a government who failed to take us into lockdown quickly enough, took us out of lockdown too quickly and who now seem to believe that denying the power of the virus will be effective enough to get us through the winter.
The Mail are not wrong. We do need a strong economy. We need it to support the hundreds of thousands who will be made redundant and need support from the welfare state. We need it to support an NHS that will be under more pressure this winter than it ever has been. And we need to support people and businesses who have worked hard to build lives and futures and who do not deserve to lose everything they have achieved.
The Guardian are not wrong either. We do need to take this virus seriously. Many CEOs and bosses are sat safely at home while front line workers are exposed to risk. Concessions need to be made, workers need to be listened to. It is not enough to talk about ‘reclaiming our lives’. We need to acknowledge that our lives have changed and we need to build new ways of working that support everyone, not just those privileged enough to sit out the pandemic from a home office.
As long as the press keep pushing us in different directions then this divide will widen. Coronavirus is the new Brexit, tearing families and communities apart with opposing views. The mask wearing debate will soon turn into the vaccine or not to vaccine debate. No security precaution will be effective unless it gets the buy in of the general public and until we can find a sense of unity and a way out of all this division then that isn’t going to happen.