No surprise anger is building over government’s Covid policies | Simon Carter

At the start of lockdown - way, way, way back in the middle of March - bar a few Covidiots stockpiling toilet rolls, it did seem we were ‘all in this together’.

Monday, 19th October 2020, 6:09 pm
You can still visit the gym in tier 3 lockdown Lancashire, but not in tier 3 lockdown Liverpool.

As the weeks dragged by, as the months started to be ticked off, as summer gave way to an autumn chill, that is no longer the case.

This inept government - the worst in my lifetime, and I’m 51 - is presiding over a country now more divided than ever. That, I’m sure you’ll agree, is some achievement. The latest chapters in an increasingly sorry tale would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious situation we are talking about. And it doesn’t really get more serious than death.

As a rookie journalist, back in the late 80s, my first editor always told me ‘the devil is in the detail.’ Wise words indeed, and ones I’ve never forgotten. Always look beyond the attention grabbing headlines, the publicity-seeking phraseology (hands-face-space etc). The Government don’t want us to look, for the reality is totally shambolic.

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Take the recent announcement that Lancashire had agreed to go into tier 3 lockdown, joining Liverpool as the only area of the country under such restrictions. You would think the rules would be the same - tier 3 together and all that - but no. While gyms were told to shut on Merseyside, they could open just a few miles away in Lancashire. Contrastly, soft play areas could remain open in Liverpool but had to close in Lancashire.

This is exactly what causes frustration, anger and confusion with Mrs Miggins and other members of the general public. And everywhere you go, conflicting messages leap out at us, inevitably leading us to think our elected Government are not in control. Not in control at all.

These conflicting messages are all too common at micro level. Where I work, the hand dryers have been out of action since March and there are signs asking you to close the pan before flushing the toilet (!). I have seen no such signs anywhere else in recent months, while hand dryers are open in most places I’ve visited. There is little consistency, and in times like this we need consistency otherwise confusion and frustration boils over.

Can anybody tell me why there is such a wide difference in visiting McDonald’s and a supermarket? In the former, a few days ago, there was a woman on the front door asking to see that customers had completed the track and trace process, insisting everyone also hand sanitized prior to ordering. Meanwhile, at Morrisons, at Asda, at Lidl, we can just walk in with our masks - no track and trace anywhere in sight and these are the stores with a lot more people in than pubs and restaurants.

It was easier back in the first few months of lockdown; everywhere was shut, apart from the restaurants. Now, the hospitality industry is furious they are being singled out - forced to shut at 10pm and closed totally in tier 3 regions. Gyms are also unhappy.

Elite football, rugby and cricket teams have - and still are - being forced to play behind closed doors, while some theatres have reopened and others plan to in the coming weeks. Financial aid for these sporting clubs, at the centre of their communities, has been slow to arrive.

Last Wednesday, Havant & Waterlooville played Chatham in the FA Cup behind closed doors as Havant - from the sixth tier of English football - are grouped in with the Premmier League as ‘elite’ level clubs. Again, laughable - if it wasn’t serious. Havant had to pay over £400 for the three match officials’ fees and travel expenses, with no gate income. They still have to pay players, they still have to pay other bills.

There is increasing fear and loathing, social media is an even greater toxic petri dish of emotions, which is really saying something. More people than ever are self-appointed health experts, conspiracy theories run rampant, and the north and south divide grows ever larger. I’m not from the north, I’ve never never lived in the north, but I can easily understand the anger towards the Government of people who do live there.

There is much talk of ‘circuit breaks’ being rolled out nationally, between two and four weeks - like in Northern Ireland. Some believe they should be in place now, others insist ‘we have to live with the virus’. We locked down for the best part of four months, and that didn’t work. What difference, long term, will two weeks make? For what it's worth, I’m in the latter camp.

Of course, it didn’t have to be like this. In New Zealand - an island nation, like ourselves - 50,000 people recently attended a rugby match. Compare that to the empty seats at Wembley, Anfield and Old Trafford, and it makes you weep, it really does.

Our government have spent £12 billion of taxpayer money on the track and trace system, reportedly paying consultants over £7,000 a day. And it still doesn’t work. To those who have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, and are suffering mentally as a result, that’s a disgusting kick in the guts.

No wonder so many people are getting increasingly angry. I’m one of them, and you should be another. If you’re not, why not?

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