Are we heading for a second national lockdown?

The Rule of Six, the government’s latest initiative to crack down on the rise in coronavirus cases, has been met with a half-hearted response from some members of the public.

16/09/20

Diane Hall

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The conspiracy theorists are pushing against the ruling, claiming the whole coronavirus pandemic is a hoax and simply a way for the powers-that-be to police us with a heavy hand.


It’s probably fair to say that, whilst most people understand the need for such a rule, given that we’re heading towards the regular flu season and months filled with all manner of coughs and colds, few are as happy as Larry that we’re seemingly going ‘backwards’. After months of shielding, lockdown, the closure of practically everything we associate with daily life, changing of work patterns or the loss of our jobs, home-schooling, military-style hygiene rules and practices, social distancing, track and trace regulations, mask-wearing…we had just begun to feel freedom after the apparent peak of the pandemic in April/May. 


From July, we could go out for a meal, shop as a leisure pursuit, take a trip to the coast, go back to work and see our colleagues. We can still do all these things to an extent, but not seeing all our friends and families indoors – particularly considering Christmas is coming up – may feel a step too far and too much to ask for some.


Night picture of a scene from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2008

The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was held on August 14, 1938, and has taken place annually ever since

So, are people becoming lax with social distancing rules? It would seem so at the recent Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the US. Though the States has dealt with the pandemic a little differently to us in the UK, the event was still classed by American news outlet as a ‘superspreader’. In less than a week, more than half-a-million motorcycle fans turned out to the rally, gathering together in crowds and with ‘minimal mask-wearing and social distancing’ to boot. It was reported that half of the people in attendance subsequently contracted the virus, which equalled a quarter-of-a-million new cases; however, this statistic has been disputed by other media.


Towards the end of August, even before the Rule of Six became a thing, police in the UK had to break up more than 70 ‘illegal parties’ in the Birmingham area. There have been incidents of people being pulled out of shopping centres and retail outlets because they weren’t wearing masks. The UK media, throughout the summer, showed pictures of ‘selfish day-trippers’ ignoring any kind of social distancing on beaches as they enjoyed a day out.


If the data is to be believed (I’m not here to say one way or the other), coronavirus cases are on the rise since we were ‘let out’ in July, and especially since children have returned to school. Hospital admissions have also risen, though not to the levels seen at the peak of the pandemic; deaths, thankfully, have not rocketed either. Could this mean that, although we’re still being infected with the virus, it’s weakening? Is it because treatment and testing have improved, and we now know more about the virus’s make-up? A mixture of both, perhaps?


There’s talk between the government and the WHO of introducing national curfews, rather than a second total lockdown. Venues in Bolton were recently ordered to close at 10pm, to minimise the amount of time patrons were in contact with each other - though restaurants and places serving food could operate as a takeaway past this time. The media describes the action as being necessary after coronavirus cases ‘skyrocketed amongst young people’.


The unofficial message aimed at the younger generation, informally accused of being the section of the population who fail to keep to social distancing regulations, is that their actions ‘will kill Granny’. When interviewed directly, however, it’s clear that many young people are concerned about the rise in cases and that they do follow the rules. 


The fact is, it’s difficult to know who to believe, as both the government and the media have not always played fair (the Dominic Cummings debacle, anyone?). The latter has been accused of exaggerating headlines and including statistics that support fearmongering. When rules are published, they’re woolly. It’s also difficult to connect with a wider, national view of what the virus is doing when real-time happenings in your local area may not paint the same picture.


On a personal level, I know of only two people in my entire network who became ill with coronavirus. I don’t live in a rural idyll and my network is quite large. One of the two sufferers (who was undiagnosed) was arguably healthy and approaching middle-age, the other was also middle-aged but had underlying health issues. Both were poleaxed by the virus and the person with health issues was hospitalised. Both recovered; the one who was undiagnosed, without any lasting effects.


That information isn’t meant to offer any support, attack or similar bias to the regulations, the way the pandemic is being handled, or towards the devastating impact the virus has had on many families across the globe. It’s simply showing how actual life – versus the news I read – could shape my interpretation of coronavirus. Though I personally wouldn’t consider having a house party for hundreds of my friends, family and acquaintances, if you were someone who already disbelieved the story being fed to you – rightly or wrongly, and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here - you could see how their experiences and beliefs might lead them to breaking the rules.


What are your thoughts on the situation? How has your experience of the coronavirus been? Tweet us at @intheknowemag


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