Why are we allowed to go to work on busy buses and trains but we still can’t visit our family? Just one of a host of questions to arise from the latest phase of the government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Along the way there have been many unknowns – how it spreads, how virulent it is, how deadly, the best treatments, and whether there will be a vaccine.
For some of these questions we are getting closer to answers we can trust. Others still seem a long way off.
The lockdown is working and has huge public support. A vocal minority aside, most people accept that when dealing with any dangerous new virus, quarantines and limiting movement is the best way to stop creating new infections. But how we ease out of the lockdown and return to some semblance of normality is a head-scratcher. Right now, we have been told that those who can’t work from home, and are in certain industries – e.g. food production or construction – can go back to work.
We need to avoid public transport where possible, but most people rely on the tube, buses and rail networks in and around London.
We’ve also been told to wear face coverings on public transport but this is ‘advised’ and not mandated.
The new rules say we shouldn’t be visiting other households or meeting in groups outside. Even when observing social distancing. You can go to a garden centre – but you can’t visit your mum’s house or your own second home if you’re lucky enough to have one. And healthy over 70s are advised they no longer need to be shielded – they can go outside but should be avoiding other people as much as possible.
Though, like the rest of us, they can go and play tennis as long as they’re only with their own household.
Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that for social distancing to work in the long haul, with the two metre rule in place, we need to reduce the number of public transport passengers by 90 per cent. The government says it is investing billions in cycling and walking initiatives to help. But didn’t these measures need to be put in place first?
Currently no extra services are being put on by TfL, despite people going back to work yesterday. Commuters are already sharing images of the crowded Jubilee Line. There is a very real risk many will be going into places of work that do not have adequate protections in place for their employees. How could they, when guidance wasn’t forthcoming earlier in the week.
Confused? We are too. All we can say is that right now we are still working from home and staying in as much as possible. If you can, you should be too.