As we all know, local lockdowns have been taking place for some time. Manchester’s local lockdown began on the 31st of July. In spite of this action being taken, cases have risen from 20 per 100,000 Mancunians to around 336 cases per 100,000. This represents a 1580% increase in reported cases in little over 2 months. So what should we take from this?
We have two choices. We could double down on these local lockdowns, get more bobbies on the beat and even send in the army if you think that is proportional and necessary in order to police each and everyone’s actions to ensure that these lockdowns have their desired effect which so far, in many places, is apparently non-existent. Alternatively, we could reopen these communities, allow the local economies to begin to flourish again while bolstering personal freedom and incentivising personal responsibility. I argue the latter is the superior path that we should take.
This does not mean we should give up entirely in terms of mitigating the effects of this virus. Three important steps can still be taken by the governments, devolved and centrally with the most vulnerable in mind. Mark and Boris- listen up
Step one: Continue to track and trace as many cases as possible, including those isolating with symptoms. We know there are efforts in this regard already in existence from the app to the QR codes in restaurants. This will at least give the most vulnerable some knowledge of the risk in their local area for venturing out. This is a sound policy.
Step two: ramp up testing and keep it ramped up. This is and will continue to be worthwhile because it not only informs step one, but it also gives confidence to the business community that they would otherwise not have.
It also gives those who take their personal responsibility seriously some tangibility to work with: ‘‘I have been near to someone who has now tested positive for the virus, therefore I will wait a few days (to avoid testing during a potential incubation period) or until symptoms arise and obtain and take a test’’. This sounds like an obvious statement to make to oneself, but it would not be possible if testing were not available.Moreover, fewer people would have this mind-set if testing became scarce and kits were seen to be limited.
Step three: End the hypocrisy. I am no fan of the mob and I don’t encourage the attacks we have seen on those in and around Westminster from Dominic Cummings to Margaret Ferrier.
However, it would be of great help if the rule makers are not seen to be rule breakers. The press adore this and like it or not the polling data is clear: compliance with whatever measures are in place has fallen when these kinds of stories have broken. Whips get whipping!