The United Kingdom is making the most of enjoying the heatwave this week as it may be the closest anyone will get to a decent holiday this year.
Despite the UK having the most deaths from Covid-19 in Europe this Spring, thousands of English residents left their homes under the new ‘stay alert’ advice and headed for their nearest piece of Great British coastline this weekend.
Durley and Alum Chine beaches were full in Southend, Bournemouth, Brighton, Falmouth and all around the country over the Bank Holiday weekend. Queues of cars were stretched far into the Yorkshire Dales. (1)(2)
Londoners report parks teaming with sunbathers enjoying the new freedom to meet with one other person outside and cramming onto the precious outside green spaces during the warm weather.
This week Boris Johnson backed Dominic Cummings explanation about bending the quarantine rules this week but said “he regretted the confusion and anger caused by the row.” (3)
Consequently there has been widespread resentment by the public who have made enormous sacrifices to respect the spirit of the lockdown and prevent the spread of coronavirus, since the beginning of March.
For many in the UK population ‘Stay at Home’ has included not seeing elderly and vulnerable relatives for months and for some not being together with dying loved ones as well as coping with many cancelled weddings and funerals. Many people think the scandal has highlighted the elitism demonstrated by politicians in Westminster and a view that it is ‘one rule for them and one rule for us.’ Beach-goers cite the Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister’s lockdown breach as a reason for packed resorts across the country according to The Telegraph on Monday.(4)
Crowds, barbecues and street parties that blatantly disregarded social distancing rules were widely photographed and shared on social media after the recent VE day weekend. As day trippers simultaneously head to the seaside during the sunny month of May, experts are warning we could see an increase in the spread of Covid-19 cases after the two week incubation time for the virus has elapsed. Some doctors are extremely concerned about a second wave of infections, as the lockdowns are lifted gradually.
“The question is when and how big, that is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) speaking about the potential for another widespread contagious reaction following the lifting of restrictions across the EU this month. (5)
Dr Ron Daniels a consultant at Birmingham hospital stated that “we expect the second wave – if lockdown is relaxed too quickly and too aggressively – could even be bigger than the first.” (6)
The top team at number 10 Downing Street are determined to do what they can to control the global pandemic. The focus is on reducing the ‘R’ number that signifies the lowering of infection passing from person to person in order to keep British citizens well and NHS hospital and other health services from becoming overwhelmed.
Next week schools in England are due to start reopening. Retail shops and markets are scheduled to begin opening their doors from mid June with distancing measures in place.
Being able to go out several times a day and meeting one other person outside (with at at least 2 metres social distance) represents a welcome increase in personal freedom after more than two months of lockdown in England. Today that reward for the country’s hard work in beating the disease was put into question. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock described how regional areas could be closed off by the government, with specific quarantining of affected locations to prevent the spread of the harmful virus infection. “We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups..”
It is clear that we have a long way to go to beat this disease and everything we can do as individuals to stay at home when possible, keep to social distancing rules and use common sense, will support our busy hospitals and key workers who are saving lives.
Sticking to the guidelines and staying at or near our homes unless it is essential to go out, will help protect our older relatives and neighbours. Keeping the cases of coronavirus down will help those who have health conditions and are waiting their turn for important medical treatments such as transplants and operations this spring. Time will tell whether we will see a second wave or whether we can successfully continue to lift restrictions as we head into what should be the summer holiday season.
(1) ‘Coronavirus: Britons urged to ‘use common sense’ as beaches and parks packed on hot Bank Holiday Monday’ Lucia Binding, Sky News, 26 May 2020 ‘Britons beaches packed’ Lucia Binding, Sky News
(2) ‘Coronavirus: Brighton and Sussex beaches busy on bank holiday’ Harry Bullmore, The Argus, 25 May ‘Sussex beaches busy’ Harry Bullmore, The Argus
(3) ‘Dominic Cummings row: People will make up their own mind, says Gove’ Laura Kuenssberg 26 May 2020 ‘Dominic Cummings Row’ Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News
(4) ‘Beach-goers cite Dominic Cummings lockdown breach as reason for packed resort’ Helena Horton, The Telegraph, 25 May 2020 ‘Beach goers cite Cummings lockdown breach’ Helena Horton, The Telegraph
(5) ‘Europe should brace for second wave, says EU coronavirus chief ‘ Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 20 May 2020 ‘Europe should brace for second wave’ Daniel Boffey, The Guardian
(6) ‘Birmingham ICU doctor says easing lockdown could create second wave ‘even bigger than first’ James Rodger, Birmingham Live News, 10 May 2020 ‘ICU doctor says easing lockdown could create second wave’ James Rodger, Birmingham Live