The Economy Will Recover, But Your Grandma Won’t Come Back From The Dead

Sign outside cinema that says 'the world is temporarily closed' due to coronavirus

It’s the second week of the third coronavirus lockdown in the UK. If you were surprised that the beginning of 2021 would be any different to the horrendous year that was 2020, I would have to wonder just what drugs you’re taking.  

Of course, the frontline NHS staff that are fighting the coronavirus knew that no relief was coming anytime soon. In fact, as they’ve been telling us for months, things were about to get worse. We’re now we moving into the thick of winter with all its numerous illnesses.

Christmas and the seemingly non-existent party season (although some people went ahead and had parties anyway, regardless of what effect that would have on a health system that’s nearing the edge of collapse) were always going to add tens of thousands more infections to the daily statistics. Part of this is because there are still people who think making individual sacrifices for the good of your fellow countrymen is apparently an attack on their freedoms. It’s a selfish world we live in now, where caring about others seems to make you a ‘lefty snowflake’. It’s always funny how those who throw out the word ‘snowflake’ are usually the most offended by literally nothing.

Look, we’d all love to return to normal (whatever that is in this increasingly chaotic world). I’m a self-confessed hermit who loves nothing more than getting in my PJ’s and settling down for a night in front of the TV with my wife, but even I’m getting fed up of being shut inside all the time. But it’s not as if this virus is going to go away anytime soon, even with the vaccine rollout, so there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it but follow the rules. 

Yes, I agree that the rules have been somewhat confusing. We’re living under a government that wants you to ‘eat out to help out’ one minute and the next is cracking down on people simply going for a walk. The UK government have been atrocious at dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, Boris does the right thing and resigns when all this has calmed down. Although I very much doubt that he will. 

On my mindless scrolling through Facebook & Twitter I’m always reading comments from people bleating about how no other government would have done much better in handling this situation. All I can do is point you to this Twitter thread, as it breaks down all the things the Government has done to make this situation worse than it needed to be.  

If you want an example of a country that has done this right and is now largely virus-free then look at New Zealand. I understand the population is far smaller than the UK, but surely some lessons could be taken from it? 

“New Zealand’s isolated location and relatively low population density certainly helped its efforts, but Prof Baker says that was only a minor benefit. 

“This strategy could work anywhere that has functioning government and infrastructure,” he said, citing diverse examples like Vietnam, Taiwan and China. 

“The countries I’m more perplexed about are the UK, as well as Europe and North America. We normally look to them for our leadership in public health,” he says. 

Instead, it has largely been countries in Asia – noticeably Taiwan, he says, which has had astonishing success – that have provided the best guidance. 

He says it is “a bit of a puzzle for us at a distance to understand why” with the UK’s extensive scientific expertise and health care, “you haven’t looked at the evidence and worked out a pattern like New Zealand’s”. – How did New Zealand become Covid-19 free? – BBC News 

It’s funny that a Conservative government that has become obsessed with controlling our borders never put in place adequate measures to prevent the virus spreading into the country like New Zealand did. While it was inevitable that the virus would arrive on our shores, you’d think that you would still try your best to contain it at the points of entry and actually run a test and trace system that actually accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish. It’s hardly ‘world-beating’ is it? But Boris dithered for weeks, and has continued to do so every time leading scientists and health experts warn him that he needs to act now.

I’m used to the UK doing things by halves and screwing up. Just look at everything that happened with Brexit. We took aim and shot ourselves in the foot by voting out, so we may as well have done the same when it came to controlling the spread of a pandemic too.  

As much as I love pointing out the flaws of our current government, we can’t just blame the Tories for the mess we’re currently in (plus, the rise of the right is unlikely to be helping the situation). Personal responsibility plays a massive part in ensuring we control the coronavirus, and while I’m sure plenty of people are following the rules and trying to limit social interactions as much as possible, there are also many who aren’t. You only have to take a trip to your local supermarket to see plenty of people not wearing a mask, coughing as they lean over and brush against you to get at the half price Rustler burger. I’ve seen plenty of people I know doing things that break the rules, mostly through the constant brag-fest that is social media.

Now I’m not one to throw out meaningless numbers by saying that loads of people are ignoring the rules based on what I’ve personally seen, because that would be confirmation bias, but from looking around my town you do get the impression that this third lockdown isn’t being taken as seriously as it was when we first went into lockdown back in 2020.  

I get it. I do. It’s been going on for so long now that people are understandably fed up of living like this. People have lost their livelihoods and businesses have gone under. It’s ok saying that we need to stay at home, but when people are struggling to make a living then it’s understandable that people want to ignore it and get back to supporting their families. It’s the governments bumbling efforts that got us here in the first place, and while anything they did to contain it would have had an effect on the economy, it didn’t have to be as bad as it now is.

The number of deaths is horrific, but when people see them lighting up the newsfeeds, they eventually become desensitised. If a person doesn’t know anyone who has died of the coronavirus, they don’t feel the real impact that it will be having on tens of thousands of friends and relatives of the victims across the country. If they haven’t had the virus, they don’t feel how it can knock a seemingly healthy person for six. The virus is not something that has directly affected them, so they start to become lax and ignore some of the rules.

It’s not a good way to approach it. We need to consider the bigger picture and the effect it has on many other people across the country and the world. Besides, who is to say that you won’t get the virus? Who’s to say that your body would be able to cope with it? Even if you don’t get sick, do you want to be spreading it to people who can’t survive getting the coronavirus? It’s not just about you and it never was.

You may think that the virus isn’t going to affect you and you can just carry on as normal. You’d likely be wrong. But are you stopping to think about what effect it’s having on other people around you? Your friends, relatives, neighbours and strangers that you’ll never meet again. What level of deaths are acceptable to you just so that you can get back to every day life?

We should care about others around us. We should care about society as a whole. To not care about your impact on others is a selfish attitude. We’re social animals who should be looking after each other, not hiding away in little bubbles and turning a blind eye to the plight of others.

The vaccines are now here and hopefully that means we can start to slowly stem the spread of the virus. Yes, it’s going to be another long hard slog before we can go back to some sort of normality, but it will come back eventually. We just have to stick it out. It might not be the normal we were used to, at least for a while, but it will be a lot better than being cooped up at home all the time.

I know that saying things will ‘get better’ doesn’t improve the current situation and I know that there are plenty of people out there in far worse states than I am. People have lost jobs, mental health issues have shot up and sectors such as hospitality are going to take years to recover. But what else do you suggest? What else can we do aside from letting hundreds of thousands of people go to an early grave?  I agree that the government should be doing more to support the economy, but we still have to fight the virus at the same time.

We’ll rebuild the economy. Jobs will return. Life will get better. But people won’t come back from the dead, so remember that the next time you decide to visit your 80-year-old grandma.  

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