Well, here we go again.
The Prime Minister has announced new lockdown measures for England that will last until 2 December. Non-essential shops, pubs, and restaurants will be closed and people will be urged to stay at home, but schools and universities will remain open.
Is this the right decision? Yes, in all honesty. I don’t think this is something most of us will like, but it is necessary. Statistics show 72% of English adults are backing the lockdown not because they’re killjoys, but because we need to stop this virus from getting out of control. It’s easy to sit around complaining about the new rules, and of course there will be times when we’re annoyed at certain restrictions, but is it not better to get this over and done with? The last few months have turned Britain into what feels like purgatory; we never really returned to normal in the first place. Saying that, I think there’s a few points we need to accept if this new lockdown is to be as effective as possible.
Firstly, this happened far too late. Cases have been increasing for some time now and government advisors were calling for this back in September. Johnson was right to announce a second English lockdown, but why was this not done several weeks ago? Instead, the virus was allowed to keep on spreading and the R number crept above 1. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has argued the government needed to consider the economy, but we all knew this was coming. What was the point of delaying it? This government has wasted valuable time, just like in March, and it’s something they need to get far, far better at.
I do believe that most people are doing everything they can to stop this terrible virus, but there’s a clear minority of people who don’t think the rules apply to them
On the other hand, while I do believe the government is mostly responsible for the rise in cases, I do not think members of the public are entirely free from criticism either. I do believe that most people are doing everything they can to stop this terrible virus, but there’s a clear minority of people who don’t think the rules apply to them. I’m frustrated by the selfish people who think massive parties are fine, or that masks don’t do anything, or who cry “but we didn’t do this during the war”, despite being born twenty years after it ended. It’s quite frankly insulting when people who break the rules then start complaining that restrictions are being extended. If you don’t want 2021 to be like this year, then start acting responsibly in 2020.
Finally, if we’re to truly combat Covid-19 then we need to focus on the issues that come with it. I would argue that the two of the greatest problems we need to face are mental health and the treatment of students. The first lockdown was difficult enough as many experienced anxiety, stress, and loneliness. But a second lockdown in November and December is going to cause all sorts of new issues, for example those who experience seasonal affective disorder will be especially hard hit. I want to know how mental health will be dealt with this time, what plan do the government have in place to protect our mental health?
If this lockdown is going to work, those in authority need to work with, not against, young people
Students also need to be treated with far more respect. Students in Manchester have claimed that fences were put up around their accommodation without warning. President of the National Union of Students Larissa Kennedy has argued on Twitter that Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, has not successfully worked with students to create a safe plan for student exit. Nightline has also reported receiving more calls from students talking about loneliness and suicide. Students are not second-class citizens, and the lack of respect they have seen is shocking. If this lockdown is going to work, those in authority need to work with, not against, young people.
Yes, a second lockdown for England is right. But to truly drive cases down, we need further changes. We need the government to improve and be held accountable, the minority of people who break the rules to face the consequences, and detailed plans to deal with students mental health in lockdown. Otherwise, things aren’t going to improve as much as we need them to.