Relaxing lockdown? Let’s make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons

Prime minister Boris Johnson faces a tough decision. Would you be in his shoes? Picture: Pippa Fowle

Prime minister Boris Johnson faces a tough decision. Would you be in his shoes? Picture: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA Media - Credit: PA

All the talk about a back to work plan is understandable. But are we not jumping the gun a little bit?

I went for my daily exercise on Sunday. I must admit I haven’t been doing it daily. The sofa is rather inviting and when not working there are board game marathons to complete which I consider to be seriously strenuous mental exercise and therefore obviously counts as a suitable fitness regime for a woman of my feet-up-with-a-book disposition.

One thing that struck me when I was walking through the woods near my home however was that there seemed to be a lot more people about than the last time I had ventured out.

Now obviously I was out as well, so I’m not judging anybody, but I wondered if it is becoming increasingly easy, as the weeks go on, to start to feel as though this coronavirus thing that everyone has been talking about for weeks on end is happening to someone else.

If you haven’t lost someone, if no one you know has been ill, perhaps it isn’t real?

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This is dangerous, I think.

I’m programmed to doubt what I am told as absolute fact. It’s why I became a journalist. It’s also why I chose to read history at university and still love reading between the lines of old history books – as I was also doing this weekend with a book written in the 1800s about the history of Norwich, where the writer’s prejudices about religion, for example, were every bit as fascinating as the ‘facts’ he presented.

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Right now I think we need to read between the lines more than ever.

The Prime Minister is facing an extremely difficult decision. Who would be in his shoes? I certainly would not.

He has said that the worst thing we can do right now is to ‘ease up too soon’ for fear of a second peak of this virus.

He is right.

But he also has to balance that against the increasing pressure from businesses and his own Cabinet for a back to work plan, details of which were leaked yesterday morning.

Some elements of that plan I found concerning, especially if you read between the lines.

The part about enforcing the two metre rule ‘where possible’ for example struck me.

Does that not open the door to ‘it can’t be that important then’ or for some employers to say ‘it’s just not possible for us’?

Meanwhile, Michael Gove has said that until we have a vaccine ‘we are going to have to live with some degree of constraint.’ However, he added, “We obviously want to, wherever possible, and consistent with the measures on public health, restore people’s lives to as close to normal as possible.’

Everyone wants life to be as close to normal as possible – that’s not in doubt.

I miss my friends and colleagues.

I miss my brothers. I miss my Mum and Dad who still have another six weeks before they are even allowed out.

But reading between the lines of Mr Gove’s remarks, I wonder if this new emphasis is less about people’s lives returning to as close to normal as possible and more about wanting the economy to return to normal instead.

Lots of people are still dying so are we talking of relaxing the rules because it’s now alright to do so, or because we just want that to be the case?

There is no easy answer to this dilemma. We all need money! But it isn’t much good to us if we’re not alive to spend it, so there must be a concerted effort to retain a balance between safety and security; to scrutinise the decisions being made and to be absolutely confident that they are being made in our best interests and not in the best interests of lining certain pockets. Even our own.

I will continue to do my daily exercise when I can. It gives me time to think.

But I think my history books at home are likely to do me rather more good.

Ice cream dilemma

During my walk, I faced an interesting dilemma.

I saw the ice cream man, parked up.

Did I want an ice cream? Yes.

Did I want to support the ice cream man? Yes of course. Man cannot live on ice cream alone.

So I bought one, ate the top of it, then, in a last minute panic, threw away the cone. Anyone might have touched it. Although that’s true of most of things I eat, whether bought from the supermarket or delivered from up the road!

I don’t know. Was I worrying overly? Should I have just bought the ice cream to support the ice cream man and thrown the whole thing away or eaten the whole thing and stopped worrying so much?

Do let me know your thoughts at

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