Insights

Mark Raeburn: 4 minute read

Easing the Lockdown is about more than just opening doors

All across the world, we are counting down the minutes until life returns to normal. Will this ever happen? We don’t know and most likely, a new normal will emerge. What this will look like in a year or even two, we don’t know. What we know is that all of us desire a return to what we consider normality. From going to the pub to seeing relatives and stepping onto a plane, restrictions in life are frustrating. 

All of this is not new information but the easing of the lockdown and how it is being administered is. Some believe that it is too soon and motivated simply by economics. Is this true and if so, what should the plan be and how do we keep the most vulnerable safeguarded?

An economic decision

The loosening of restrictions is against scientific advice.

“We cannot relax our guard by very much at all,” said John Edmunds…There are still 8,000 new infections every day in England without counting those in hospitals and care homes, Edmunds said. “If you look at it internationally, it’s a very high level of incidence.” World Health Organization statistics suggest it is the fifth-highest in the world.
The Guardian, Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England – Sage advisers

Mr. Edmunds is a professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He regularly attends meetings of Sage, the scientific advisory group on emergencies. His sentiments are echoed by others within the scientific community and raise the question of why release the lockdown in the wake of this advice?

The economy is the answer here. The need to inject some juice into an economy that shrunk by the largest amount in history back in April. This is plain but the morality behind such a decision that prioritises money over lives is what is on the block here. To place lives by the wayside is callous and one that does not deserve consideration as a reason.

Another reason for the loosening of restrictions is mental health.

We all need to consider our mental health

Mental health is a key consideration that we all need to think about. During the lockdown, we have all been challenged to not see our loved ones as we would like to. It is an unprecedented situation and as a long-term plan, you cannot keep people at home for months on end. The longer you do so, the more that people suffer. This is something that therefore deserves consideration when looking at easing lockdown. Keeping people at home is simply not a long-term, viable solution.

By keeping people at home, you risk frustrations boiling over and for the vast majority of the population, these could be more damaging than infection. This is, therefore, a legitimate consideration when you look at the reasons for the government’s loosening of restrictions. You can debate whether the timing is correct but you cannot debate the morality of considering the mental health of the population.

Considering the most vulnerable

Regardless of the reasons for lockdown being released and whether it is right or wrong, you need to consider the most vulnerable. For them, they may not feel safe to venture outside, even when the green light to do so has been given. You, therefore, need to think of everyone in your decision. Loosening restrictions is not as simple as opening doors.

"Whilst the wider population may be moving out of the coronavirus peak, COVID-19 will be with older and disabled people for a very long time. Easing the lockdown is about more than opening doors it is about unlocking people’s lives – restoring care and support, assessing needs, preparing for the inevitable surge in demand for care and enabling us all to live our lives again. Learning the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government must seize the opportunity to reform and reset social care as part of the wider post-COVID-19 recovery."
James Bullion, President of ADASS

The statement from the ADASS President illustrates the caution that is needed at this time. The economy needs to be considered but in comparison to the danger of complacency, it is a drop in the ocean. We can easily open shops and get businesses moving again but if we don’t consider those who are vulnerable, then are we not simply inviting a second peak? This is something that nobody wants.

We all want to ensure a bright future for our country but in doing so, we need to consider everyone. Shops are now open, businesses are beginning to go back to work but the battle has only really just begun. Covid-19 is not something that will be here for one year and then gone the next. It is like cheques, as a nation, the vast majority of us do not use them, but a certain portion of the population does. Is it, therefore, fair to forget about that segment and focus on the majority? It is not. We need to consider every aspect and when it comes to Covid-19, those who are vulnerable and cannot resume their lives so easily.

To conclude

As the frustration begins to boil over the surface, people are demanding to get back to normal. Is this fair? That may not be the most apt question, the statement that covers the bases here is that it is understandable. People have been forced to live a completely different life for the last three months, compared to the previous three months. They have seen the daily death toll rising, alongside more and more shelves being laid bare in the supermarkets. It has not been an easy time. Now that the death rate is lowering and the country is moving again, we need to help people understand that it is not just about opening doors.

The most vulnerable members of society need consideration. Lockdown will not be over as quickly for them. Those who have been deemed most vulnerable are still at risk. Infections are still occurring and so we still need to consider their needs and not simply leave them behind. A true measure of any society is how they treat their most vulnerable members.

We at OLM believe that technology has helped keep the world connected during this time. Solutions have helped connect support to those that desperately need it and now, as the country is easing lockdown, these support strands need to be maintained. Easing the Lockdown is about more than just opening doors.