It’s time to start treating us like adults

(29 April, 2020)

We're not saying it's time to lift the lockdown, but we do need to have a proper conversation about how we'll do it when the time comes

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The longer we go without light at the end of the tunnel, the harder it will be for people to stay positive, as the question over when and how we come out of a full lockdown dominates the headlines.

There is still so much we don’t know about Coronavirus and the true number of victims. And many valiant health care and social care professionals, and other frontline workers, remain unable to get vital PPE.

We don’t yet have a vaccine and antibody testing is far from accurate.

But the longer the lockdown goes on, the more people struggle with their mental health, domestic abuse, and the ill-effects of isolation and staying indoors. And the longer our economy suffers, and the higher the likelihood of more redundancies and businesses collapsing.

But now there’s another question we are left anxiously churning over: how will easing the lockdown work?

It’s startling to hear that even local authorities are looking ahead as blindly as we are.

This week Southwark Council leader Peter John said that Number Ten still had no news for them about potential exit strategies.

The Scottish government and many other countries have published plans showing potential routes – but Westminster refuses.

Although urgent hospital operations will be starting up again soon, there is no more information on which sectors may open up first and how this can be managed.

As a result, the council doesn’t yet have a full grasp on the likely impact in our borough, the number of people who might lose their jobs permanently or those who could be cut off from their families for up to a whole year or more if a vaccine isn’t ready.

It’s also left with a huge financial black hole from business rates and a declining council tax base as more people apply for reductions while claiming Universal Credit.

In turn, there’s more pressure on its services – a double bind.

This is through no fault of its own. Like the rest of the population it’s being told that even talking about the lockdown will give people a licence to start misbehaving.

Filling the information vacuum are conspiracy theorists. And as patience starts to wane people are beginning to break the rules and assume the worst is over. This is dangerous.

The positivity and spirit shown by the majority is truly special – but Westminster must not take it for granted.

If it wants to keep people united, we need to start planning ahead – however far ahead that is – and not just be left in limbo.

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