People are tired of staying in, staying alert and staying safe. They’ve had a whiff of freedom and now want more. This weekend there will be some return to normality for most of us but in Leicester the first local lockdown has already taken hold.
Once again there are fears the virus is rampaging out of control, and it will start to grip other areas already on a knife edge. This virus has not been eliminated and it is not a given that it won’t return – even if London’s peak was well before the rest of the UK.
Without accurate, real-time data on new infections – who, where, how – and a strong test, track and trace system to back it up – we will all be living in the dark.
Having knowledge about local R levels, mini outbreaks in care homes or schools, and unexpected clusters, enables people to make better choices.
We need some kind of return to normality – to go back to work, meet (socially distanced) friends in the park and get a hair cut. Now is not the time for the government to be giving us less information – it’s the time for more.
Because without the rigid rules of a full lockdown we have more choices than we’ve had for months.
Every time we travel, whenever we visit friends’ gardens, or use public transport, we are weighing up what is ‘essential’ and what is ‘necessary’, what is ‘allowed’ and what is ‘safe’.
But would we go to the office tomorrow, open our shop today, or see friends this weekend if we knew a spate of infections had been recorded in a school nearby?
People did largely follow the rules once – but now there’s an element of doubt and enough hope the worst is over for a lot of people to go out in search of a party.
We can prevent a second wave but only if we can persuade those inclined to brush concerns aside to start taking this seriously.
To do that, we need a lot more that a few muddled messages from the government about staying alert.