Last week, I posted on Facebook my suggestion for lifting the lockdown. “If I was in charge, I’d let teenagers out on May Day – a Friday – so they could have a lovely weekend when the streets belong to them, meeting up in parks and on beaches. The following Monday, all places of education would open. Then on the first of each month a new set of things would open; first non-essential shops, then bars and restaurants, then gyms and hairdressers.
It would give the months a magical feeling as the country came alive again in the summertime. And it would be slow, so we could monitor what happens. By then it would be September, and we could either carry on opening up if infection falls, or go back into hibernation in autumn/winter if it was rising. But we’d have had some kind of a summer to get us through till spring 2021.”
I was remarkably pleased with the visionary quality of my post and like a pig in muck with the copious quantities of “likes” that subsequently came my way. But a week is a long time in quarantine and I’m writing this on a wet and blustery May Day, so the kids wouldn’t exactly be living La Vida Loca anyway.
Somewhat unsettlingly, an Ipso poll this week claimed that 60 per cent of people would be wary of returning to work, while a YouGov poll saw only 11 per cent of parents desirous of schools opening. As I get older I’ve been starting to see both sides of an argument, and as a hyper‑social lone wolf I’ve been quite laissez faire about lockdown. But on hearing the recommendations of this week’s Warwick University study that the over-50s, rather than just the over‑70s, should be kept in coronavirus lockdown for longer, it’s amazing how quickly I made up my mind, as I am 60 years old and still spry as an ibex.
It’s worth noting that ethnic minorities and overweight people are also disproportionally affected; imagine the ructions if some medical adviser suggested they stay at home indefinitely. Additionally, I’ve just heard on the radio that people going back to work are getting abuse from neighbours for “bringing back” the virus – which implies that the “community spirit” that was so lauded in the early weeks may be curdling into something more toxic.