UK Government’s Mixed Messages Over Lockdown Lead to Chaos

Lockdown? What Lockdown?

Katy Preen
May 10, 2020 · 5 min read
Image: pixabay

fficially, the UK is still on ‘lockdown’ re. the coronavirus pandemic, but it isn’t really a lockdown anyway. If people’s bosses want them to come into work, tough shit, no lockdown for them. We’re allowed to leave the house for essential shopping and one form of exercise, but people have pushed it so far that things are basically the same as they were before the virus struck. At the beginning of the lockdown, people would get moved on by the police for such crimes as sunbathing or sitting down, but now everyone’s having street parties and getting their shirts off in the park, and oh my god we are going to have another peak and 100,000+ deaths aren’t we?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said on Wednesday 6th May that the furlough scheme, which pays employers 80% of their staff salaries, would be reducing payments to 60% — which would increase the pressure on firms to get people back to work. There had been mutterings, and full-blown op-eds, by big business spokespeople ever since the lockdown began saying that we needed to lift the lockdown and get firms back up and running. Of course, the omnipresent messaging convinced a decent chunk of the public that the lockdown measures were an overreaction, even though most British people support staying home.

On Thursday 7th May, Boris Johnson opened his big, stupid mouth and stated in Prime Minister’s Questions that there would be an announcement on reviewing the lockdown on Sunday 10th. Simultaneously, ministers had been briefing the press that the lockdown would be eased. The newspapers did what newspapers do, and the stands were full of headlines telling us we would soon be able to go outside and do as we pleased. The government then hurriedly put out the message that actually, we still need to stay home and obey the rules. But it was too late:

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And then there was the VE day announcement. I remember there being parties in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe day. It was everything you’d expect, people dressing up in uniform, Vera Lynn songs on an endless loop, and enough barbecues to feed the nation for several months. A great way to bring people together — great in 1990s Britain, emerging from a recession and needing something hopeful to raise morale; less good for 2020 Britain, when there’s a highly infectious and deadly disease going around.

So it would be foolish of the government to announce a special VE day bank holiday right in the middle of pandemic season, wouldn’t it? But that’s what they did, moving the Spring Bank Holiday from its regular date of Monday 11th May back to Friday 8th, so that it would coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE day. It’s not something we’d normally celebrate in Britain, even with our religious obsession with WWII, but the government may have thought it would be a nice feelgood event to lift the national mood — or it could be the second phase of their herd immunity project. This is what happened:

In Hackney:

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Manchester (at least they are in their cars):

Brixton:

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Wales:

Portsmouth:

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London:

Hebden Bridge:

This is really sad, and dangerous. These people obviously don’t trust the government, and they’ve got their information from an even less reliable source instead.

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Somewhere in England:

Stockport:

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East London:

Wimbledon:

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London:

Unknown Location (possibly London):

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Milton Keynes:

Liverpool:

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Crewe:

Basically everywhere:

Another Unknown:

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London:

Sheffield:

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Kidderminster:

Warrington:

London:

Wherever Piers Morgan lives:

Another not-sure-where:

Kent:

All over the UK:

Middlesbrough:

Somewhere in the South-East:

Hemel Hempstead:

You may not have noticed, but the UK government sneakily changed its coronavirus slogan from “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” to “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives”. This is a massive hint that we’ll be lifting the lockdown well before it’s due. We haven’t got anything remotely like control over the virus.

Before / After

Regardless of whether the lockdown is officially relaxed or not, now that people have seen these mixed messages from the government they’re going to think that staying home isn’t that important. Business are going to start calling their staff back in, and the government’s reduced support is going to leave people with no choice.

We don’t yet have a testing and tracing strategy in place, so lifting restrictions now will mean it was all for nothing; the appearance of lockdown but ‘herd immunity’ in reality. In about three weeks from now, we will start to see deaths of those who were out in the street, in the parks, or doing the fucking conga this weekend. And by then, the lockdown will hardly exist at all.

We are still experiencing 600+ “official” coronavirus deaths per day, and the wave of death sweeping Britain’s care homes is nowhere near under control. Hospitals and care homes don’t have enough PPE, and more UK clinical staff have died in the UK from COVID-19 than the whole of the US. I dread to think where we will be a few months down the line, and I fear not just for my fellow citizens, but for my own life. They are killing us.

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Katy Preen

Written by

Journalist, author, feminist. Reading the comments so you don’t have to.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Listen to our podcast at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Katy Preen

Written by

Journalist, author, feminist. Reading the comments so you don’t have to.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Listen to our podcast at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

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