Coming out of Lockdown

A few weeks ago Ministers were working flat out to bring forward measures to try to keep us all safe and to help people in the very many different situations faced with the onset of COVID-19 in the UK. The initial raft of measures was a blunt instrument which had to be refined to meet ever more detailed concerns that had fallen through the net. The Chancellor acknowledged that, in the end, there may be some people we would not be able to help, so many and varied are the lifestyles and circumstances of people across our country.

Whilst it seems that the media have worked harder than ever to try to find holes in what the Government has done there has been a general cross-Party consensus on the actions as the Prime Minister has worked to keep an open dialogue.

Now the challenge is to chart our recovery strategy, and this will almost certainly be much harder than setting out the survival measures. If I simply take my own correspondence as a measure, I know that people are either afraid or frustrated; some people feel both. The Government is working hard to be guided by the science but inevitably there are conflicting scientific reports. Across the world there are different studies and, or course, variations in the different national demographics, cultures and overall health have to be taking into account when interpreting findings.

We now have the benefit of hindsight on which we can build and with which many criticise. It is easy to be wise after the event. As we try to move forward there are those who would prefer us to slow down and those who would like us to speed up. There are those fearful for their physical health, those fearful for their mental health, those fearful for their livelihoods and so much more. No strategy is going to satisfy everyone, and I await the inevitable attack on our Prime Minister and other Government Ministers.

The Prime Minister has set out a general direction of travel, the stages through which we might move and the precautions that we will take. As before it will take time to refine the details and help us all to return to our new normal. The experience has inevitably led to questions about our previous ways of doing things, in our national life and in our personal lives. There will be debates about how we can learn from the experience, there may be permanent changes, and doubtless there will be a raft of PhDs gained from research into this situation.

Technology has been invaluable in helping us through. It has enabled us to maintain some sort of contact with our family and friends, it has helped us in education and in business, it has helped us in Parliament to find new ways to hold the Government to account and to pursue enquiries. But we are social beings and the one thing so many people tell me they long for is the opportunity to meet face to face again. Our non-verbal behaviour is such an important part of our communications and it is just not possible to read the nuances as clearly online.

As we move forward together we will have different strongly held views and our needs may be very different. None of us can really know the toll that this situation has taken on the other so I hope that we can show a generosity of understanding.