We shouldn’t be here but here we are. Yet again political leaders have dithered in the face of that the epidemic is getting out of control. That happened in March. It has happened again this November. The second lockdown will last until December. A month’s shutdown is expected.
The main story is known. Hospitality and leisure businesses, barber hairdressers and nail fashioners must close by midnight on Wednesday. You won’t be able to buy a new car either, except online. The shielded are being told to shy away from society again, though we won’t know the details of their restrictions until tomorrow.
Ludlow Town Council can help reduce the impact of this second lockdown by keeping Ludlow Market open. Shropshire Council can help by keeping our town and inter-town buses running.
Boris Johnson’s press conference was expected on Monday but it was brought forward to 4pm yesterday. Then it was delayed until 5pm. Delayed until “after 5pm”. Finally, at ten to seven yesterday, Boris emerged from his Number 10 bunker to say that he is bunkering England. The chaos evident at Number 10 suggests there must have been something scarier than Halloween horror stories planned for the front pages of Sunday’s papers.
The introduction of national restrictions marks a dramatic shift in government policy. The prime minister has until now resisted pressure to reintroduce nationwide restrictions.
It will take a couple of days for the dust to settle and for the details to be revealed. This should have been planned for. Programmed into the business of government. Yet it was announced on the hoof after Boris Johnson finally realised that he had to get a grip on the numbers. A grip on the accelerating rates of infection. A grip on the reality that hospitals would soon be overwhelmed.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson’s Donald Trump lookalike facemask slipped below his chin. But like Trump, Johnson is not admitting to any mistakes. Making no apologies.
The latest social, retails and services lockdown will last until the beginning of December. We must remember that back in March, Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown would last just three weeks. That was an awfully long three weeks that extended well into the summer. Will Santa be able to squeeze down the chimney this Christmas?
I am not arguing the lockdown is wrong. It should have begun weeks ago in line with the scientific advice that Boris Johnson once championed but has always failed to follow.
With the second wave well underway, it is sensible we have a short lockdown to slow its onset.
We are better prepared for the second lockdown. We know the rules. We know we must act differently.
Ludlow Market should be kept open to sell essential goods as it does at present. Buses in Ludlow must be kept running to allow people to shop and get access to medical facilities.
It is inevitable that more people will be driven to shop online and in the supermarkets. But please remember to stay local and shop local. Many of our local traders in Ludlow will deliver to your home.
New cases of Covid-19 now running at about 70 a day in the Shropshire unitary area. Fortunately, the number of Covid-19 cases in Ludlow remains low. In the seven days up to 26 October, there were six positive tests. That’s a rate of infection of 55 per 100,000 people. In Shrewsbury, the infection rate was 126 and Telford and Wrekin 223.
The government is saying that once the second wave lockdown is eased, areas and regions will be reallocated into the tier system. This is better model than the now discredited plan for local authorities and regions to crawl up the three (ish) tier system until they finally get told to lockdown. We need to see clear guidance on what hurdles localities need to leap to be permitted to withdraw from full lockdown. We must know the rules.
The spring lockdown was dominated by panic and a desperate scramble for medical and other supplies, including food. There is no need for that to happen again.
For the government, this is an opportunity for it to fix the track and trace system. It has promised to fix it before. But the process still seems more like a patchwork of rags sewn together. It is not the world class system once promised. Ministers have also pledged a quicker turn round of test results. We must be sceptical of a government that has failed week in, week out to deliver its promises throughout this epidemic.
Our economy, our lives and our society have been damaged by the government’s dithering. We will have to repay the hundreds of billions of pounds this epidemic has cost over coming decade. Perhaps longer. More importantly, we can never replace the lives lost or health damaged by coronavirus. Or from the lack of treatment of other health conditions.
We are resilient as a community in Ludlow. Community action during the first wave of Covid-19 improved our strength as a community. We must ensure that the lockdown for the second wave doesn’t weaken our community strength.
I have faith in our community. I don’t have the same faith in our political leaders.