I do not think spreading coronavirus is a good idea. All my life, I’ve done everything I should to avoid spreading any germs. Would I visit my grandparents if I felt under the weather? No. I probably wouldn’t visit anyone – especially if I knew something nasty was going round. Most people I know are always fans of keeping things clean, keeping hands washed and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. These are things that any reasonable person does, and does with extra vigilance when something new comes out. Covering your mouth and nose at all times just in case you cough or sneeze or, god forbid, breathe – this does not seem so reasonable to me. Nor does lockdown. I feel that there are 3 main questions to ask about lockdown – is it sensible, is it sustainable, and is it proportionate? If you think asking these questions makes me a bad person (regardless of what the answers are) then I don’t want to be considered “good” by you.
Is it sensible?
Imagine you are talking to yourself from a year ago, trying to explain what will happen. You are telling them that sitting in the park is illegal, meeting up with your friends is illegal, going to school is strongly discouraged, people are being categorised into “essential” and “not essential”, and half the rules seem to contradict each other – you can chat to your co worker all day, but you can’t have them round for tea after work. You would sound ridiculous, almost unbelievable, to that past self.
Is it sustainable?
We’ve been in lockdown, on and off, for almost a whole year. According to the ONS the economy has shrunk by 20.4%. Small businesses are folding left, right, and centre. High street shops like Debenhams and Topshop are being bought out. This is pushing us fast towards a monopoly, billion pound (or dollar) corporations are only profiting from lockdown, while small independent businesses suffer. Taking a payout from the government won’t save them, they need to be allowed to actually operate. We haven’t been given an end date since PM Johnson said “3 weeks to flatten the curve”, so when I ask “how long can this go on?” I mean it literally. How long can independent businesses take this beating for, before we lose to consumerist giants?
Is it proportionate?
Aside from the hit to the economy that I’ve discussed, lockdown is causing and worsening a lot of suffering. A big issue is mental health, in which the UK has seen an increase in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicides (sources linked). Alcohol consumption has also increased by 18.1%, which is 498.5 million litres. In a more physical regard, the danger has increased for those in abusive households who previously had school or work as a reprieve. The postponing of cancer treatments and surgery is prolonging suffering and increasing the danger to patients. It’s doubtful whether these measures are saving more lives than they’re costing in pure numbers, but if you consider quality of life (as the NHS does when forced to make decisions on distributing resources) there is no contest. The lockdown as it continues becomes a less and less proportionate response to the problem. A solution should not cause more suffering than its problem.
You can read more of Eloise’s work here.