Shropshire Star comment: Government responsible for clarity

It is the Government’s responsibility to provide clear and unambiguous messaging.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Its inability to do that is a serious failing. As new locally-imposed restrictions kick in across the borough of Wolverhampton, people remain uncertain of what they can and cannot do. Little wonder the police have such a difficult task upholding the rule of law.

It is no longer acceptable for people to go and see their grandmother, for instance, but they can meet five other friends in a pub. Neighbours cannot mingle in their back gardens, but you can meet five strangers in the park.

This is an uncertain time and the complexity of the rules makes things even more challenging. The situation regarding Covid-19 becomes increasingly difficult to understand when we consider that although cases are rising, we actually have the lowest death rate since March. Evidence from the USA, Sweden and elsewhere also presents a counter-intuitive scenario – as virus rates rise in a second wave, death rates appear stable.

The rapid increase in infection means people need certainty, both in what they are allowed to do and whether they are infected. Accordingly, there ought to be tests freely available and yet the Government has failed to accurately assess demand and now finds itself unable to turn around tests in time. People are unable to go to work, care for others or attend school because they are unable to get a test. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has given interviews telling people that is not the case, when it is. The early stages of lockdown were disastrous. The UK ended up with the worst economic scarring and the worst death rate across the whole of Europe. We have had a whole spring and summer to watch others and learn. Yet we appear to be unready.

Against that backdrop, people are trying to go about their daily lives. It is a time for cool heads and for taking personal and collective responsibility. Let’s not forget the basics. We know that wearing masks, washing hands, staying at a safe distance and avoiding unnecessary social contact will stop the spread of the virus.

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