2020 is not turning out like any of us expected. The planned events to mark 75 years since VE Day last week had to be downsized radically from the street parties of flag-waving crowds to small family groups of people standing in their front rooms or gardens with some bunting and a cheery wave to neighbours.
If ever there was a time to commemorate the emotions of a country breaking free from war time restrictions, it is now. The VE Day 75 events, smaller though they had to be, came at the same time as the Prime Minister and Cabinet Members were discussing lockdown and whether the time has come to lift some restrictions.
Thanks to the massive national effort of the British people to stay at home and protect the NHS we are now past the peak of the Coronavirus. However, as the Prime Minister made clear on Sunday, we need to stay alert, continue to control the virus and save lives.
By the time you read this, the first changes will be in place. More people will be returning to work as the Government shifts its message to say that anyone who can’t work from home, should go to work – avoiding public transport if at all possible. So for those in construction or manufacturing, the Government is actively encouraging you to return to work, so long as your employers have put appropriate measures to protect you.
We can all exercise more now and you can chat with a friend from the accepted two metre distance if you meet them in the open air in, say, a park. Sports, like golf or football practice, are OK but you can only play them with members of your own household or on your own. But stay alert to those social distances – the fines for breaking the rules have been increased.
Any changes made to the social distancing measures will be taken with a slow considered and careful approach, only moving when we know it is safe and carefully monitoring the results. The youngest primary school children will be first to return to school – but not until June at the earliest and then only for certain year groups (Reception, Year 1 and Year 6).
As the Gazette goes to press, a 50-page document from the Government is due to published and I would strongly advise everyone who is looking for more detail to refer to it.
We must not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS, damaging both public health and the economy, and wasting the sacrifices the British people have made in lockdown to get the virus under control. If it looks like the virus is surging again, restrictions will be reapplied so as to protect everyone.
Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives.