It is clear that the rising number of people with Covid 19, and increasing numbers requiring hospital care, with some going on to death, mean that something must be done.
A lockdown may reduce the spread, the number of cases and deaths for now, but I cannot see that this sort of action can be repeated or extended over and again – And won’t the virus still be there? The hope and belief that a vaccine can be created that will contain Covid 19 seems to me to be far from certain. Sensible public health measures carry more realistic promise – total lockdown is one such – but the benefits in terms of reducing spread of infection have to be balanced against the harm which we see coming from the deprivation of liberties, the stress of endless isolation and denial of comfort from friends and family, faith community and more.
For most it seems right to allow schools and universities to continue their work so that the education and disciplined socialisation of young people is not truncated. It is clear that shops providing essentials must continue to be staffed and to make their goods and services available. What is to be deemed ‘essential’ is not so easy to agree on. Hospitals, care homes and community services must continue their work, though some community services mainstream or voluntary, have been modified or stopped from the beginning of the first lockdown and never reopened. There are huge disadvantages, consequent upon this loss of services, for people with illnesses or disabilities arising from physical or mental disorders, which are often present in combination, and in combination with social disadvantage. Old people and people with dementia and their families are most likely to be affected. The harm is there already, has had its consequences and a return to across-the-board lockdown will surely make it worse.
Agriculture and manufacturing industries have to be allowed to continue – with limits and discipline. Some recreational activities, particularly those where alcohol and other substances are likely to encourage careless and thoughtless behaviour, might be curtailed or stopped. Travel for travel’s sake, cruises and such like, can be delayed for now without great loss other than to the companies which have offered them. But mutual support within families, neighbourhoods and communities, including faith communities, should surely be respected, protected and allowed. Such activities are strengthening at all times, and most particularly in adversity.
The people who will benefit from such an approach are those who are most vulnerable. These include the million people with dementia in the UK
It is good that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and an organisation of imam’s have raised responsible questions Catholic church leader criticises Covid worship restrictions in England