Third lockdown is really tough - but there's no alternative as NHS struggles

Ipswich Cornhill in lockdown

Lockdown has left town centres nearly deserted again. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

So here we are again. Sitting in our own homes. The lucky ones of us able to continue working from our kitchen, bedroom or conservatory while others are furloughed and hoping that their money keeps on rolling in.

It's not a great place to be - but I'm sure the vast majority of the country feels that this is absolutely vital to protect the NHS and hospital workers who are facing the greatest crisis the service has ever seen.

I really don't think this is the time for politicians to engage in trying to score political points. At some point in the future when Covid-19 is not an immediate threat to the health of everyone in this country and the very foundation of the NHS it will be right to have a full inquiry into how the country dealt with the pandemic.

It was perfectly reasonable for politicians to call for stronger measures before the new lockdown was announced. And I can fully understand the arguments that delays have caused thousands more infections and this will ultimately lead to more deaths.

But the fact is we are now in a new lockdown. We can't turn back time and introduce it before Christmas. We are where we are.  I'm sure everyone has their own view on how the government has handled the crisis and what it could have done differently. 

The fact is that we are still months away from the next local elections and probably years away from the next general election (although given the record of the last few years you can't be certain of that!) and there will be more than enough opportunity to have those arguments as we approach election days.

At that time the government and individual ministers will have some very, very critical issues to face - questions of life and death, and of prosperity and destitution.

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For now, it is enough for most people to be able to cope with being in lockdown during what is always the most miserable time of the year.

Sitting in my home office, I can hear and see the rain falling and know it is very cold outside. The prospect of doing outdoor exercise is less than appealing.

Most rules the government have imposed are quite clear - but we're back again with confused advice about what exercise is allowed. We're told we can only take exercise once a day, but if Fido is used to a walk early morning and then in the late afternoon to fulfill his natural needs, is that a heinous sin?

We're told that exercise should be in your local area, but what is a "local area?"

Before Christmas I had to have my car repaired. It had lost power. I was told by the garage that because I hadn't used it much over the last few months some filters had been clogged up and a couple of tubes needed replacing.

I was advised to take it for a good run at least twice a week - ideally getting up a bit of speed to clear its pipes.

So since then I've driven two of us from our home in Ipswich to Felixstowe's Landguard car park and to the town of Lavenham for walks to get some exercise and give the car a short run.

We haven't met anyone else and I don't think we've come within 30 metres of anyone else while out on a walk - never mind the two-metre rule!

Under the new rules, I guess that is probably out - but I don't really want to have to get the AA out if I find the car won't start if I need to get the weekly shop from the nearest supermarket. And I don't want another £180 bill for a filter change!

One change from the spring lockdown is that elite sport is carrying on. I know some people have taken to social media to express frustration that they can't meet members of their family but football can go ahead.

While I understand that frustration - I haven't seen members of my family for months - I do feel it is different. Elite athletes are tested regularly and, by definition, are fit enough not to be in a high risk group.

And I fully understand the point Dr Dan Poulter made to me, that having televised elite sport available makes life much better for millions of people who have seen other sources of entertainment closed over the last few months. We do have to consider issues of mental health as well.

There have been a few changes to the first lockdown - dentists are still open for those who are in serious pain and you can still get your car repaired. Garden centres are still open (although it's not a big time of the year for gardening) and children can go to playgrounds.

But lockdown is a miserable experience at any time and the months of January and February are always the most miserable months of the year - and it's going to be a really tough time for all of us over the next few months.

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