As in communities across the land, the lockdown appears to be slowly – but increasingly – breaking down. Here in the leafy shire community of St. Mary in the Wold vehicle traffic, especially during the working week, is certainly busier on the main road which bypasses us and foot traffic is on the increase too as people gain confidence in that by taking reasonable precautions they are very probably safe walking for exercise along the lanes with close family and dog and making the occasional trip into town to buy supplies from the supermarket.
Returning to work has not been an option for many, as employers, particularly in the construction, building maintenance, utilities and transport industry have not really had a choice but to ask employees to return to work. The food retail sector too has asked staff to stay at their posts and increased temporary staff positions, along with many people who do the thankless job of working in call centres that deal with banking and insurance for example, all working under pressure as the countless redundant, laid off (furloughed), or now unemployed self-employed, try to salvage something or put off the day when financial hardship will hit them.
Following the trend reported in the main stream media, many remain unconvinced that it is, or will be, safe to return to work, send the kids to school or resume at some point some sort of ‘normal’ life. The government and its allies in the main stream tabloids have certainly done a really good job of frightening half the nation into unquestioning total compliance and its mantra of ‘we are doing this for the nation’s good’, and continues to believe in total adherence to the appliance of science, just as it has done with the same appliance of science when talking about and dealing with ‘climate change’. This is why the taxpayer is about to be hit by a tsunami of as yet undiscussed green and Covid recovery taxes, this time to pay for all the money borrowed to ‘support’ the nation during this health emergency .
The other half, law abiding mostly and currently fairly quiet with their doubts, have given the government the benefit of the doubt. In St. Mary on the Wold that is exemplified, as in many other middle-income earning communities, by the residents of Audi Avenue, mostly employed in the public service sector, local and civil service, education and the NHS. Leaving the NHS aside, private sector employees and those not able to work from home or, as it has now been re-titled ‘working remotely’, are increasingly getting irritated by those luxuriating, in many cases, on full pay while also accruing holiday entitlement and proclaiming apparently that they would not be happy to return to the workplace until it is perfectly safe to do so. Teacher unions have indicated that schools have to be perfectly safe and as many of their members have had the stress of working with, and caring for, the children of key workers during the emergency, they would expect that holiday provision will also be honoured! Some even proposing that schools should not re-open until September.
All this is in the face of ‘science’ that says there have not been any cases of the virus being passed on by children to an adult while at the same time ignoring the economic effect that school closures will have on many working parents.
The NHS is also coming in for some quite acid comments from patients who have had previous poor experience from various hospitals or services. It is now emerging (to use that favourite media expression) that people needing life-saving procedures or treatments have had those and operations cancelled, while reading, or hearing from staff or family, that their local hospital is not, as the media implies, struggling to cope with the influx of seriously ill Covid-patients, all needing intensive care nursing and equipment, and that Nightingale Hospitals have either few or no patients. It is now said that more patients are needlessly dying because of lack of treatment than have sadly died from Coronavirus.
Most people reasonably would realise that the government and the NHS was, and is, as they say, between a rock and a hard place. Despite historical modelling, no-one in the NHS or civil service anticipated this ‘black swan’ event. Whatever the response it was likely to be a case of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, but none of that explains the cries that it was all the government’s fault or lack of funding, particularly as the moment the situation was realised, some £12 billion pounds was effectively written off to enable the NHS Trust management to buy whatever they needed without worrying about financial implications. More people are now questioning the way that NHS and staff, whatever their role, are being treated as heroes. Millions of pounds have been donated. Where is this money to be spent and for what? would seem to be a reasonable question (and by whom?). All over the country well-meaning people have volunteered to assist, private companies have bent over backwards to provide supplies and have, in the end, said do you want this or not? when it came to protective equipment.
Many more people have donated. Food parcels for NHS staff, special times allocated for NHS staff to shop, free car parking provided by local councils, and so on. Comments pages in newspapers and blog sites now have many negative submissions by those who realise that they, or family members, may be affected by a virus that seems to have less effect than seasonal flu. If that is the case, just why, many ask, are we still locked up, and if the NHS is a world-beating organisation, why has the management been so slow to react. Why are we being asked to protect the NHS from sick people? Is that not its main role?
Part 2 will be published here tomorrow.