Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Viva la diferencia

 In my opinion, Spain has been consistent in its approach to coronavirus. OK, there have been mistakes made. Just as was the case in England, lockdown was too slow and large gatherings were allowed in the early days that should have been stopped. 

Since then though the rules and stages have been clear and largely followed. We knew week by week what was and what was not allowed. We also knew that the rules would be enforced by law with fines for those who broke them. We don't have mottos like, "Hands, Face and Space" though. 

By comparison, there seems to have been a lot of confusion in England. For example, people were allowed to go out for exercise - how far and for how long was not specified. They were allowed to go to beauty spots and the beach to undertake this exercise. 

Being outdoors in fresh air was said to be good for both mental and physical well being and so it was encouraged as long as people maintained social distancing. The result was that we were presented with pictures and news reports of resorts like Bournemouth being overwhelmed. Social distancing was impossible even if people thought to apply it. 

It was exactly the same when the pubs were allowed to reopen. It was impossible for drinkers to keep 2m apart. Even if they started out well meaning, by the time they'd have several drinks most would have not even thought about it. Drinkers were also supposed to give their name and phone number so they could be contacted in case someone in the pub showed symptoms of coronavirus. No surprise that there were loads of Donald Ducks in bars and pubs.  

The "work from home if you can" message was replaced with, "get back to the office now!". And to encourage people to eat out, they were given a 50% discount off their meals up to £10 - Mondays to Wednesdays. 

There have been examples of blatant rule breaking with, for example, illegal raves of up to 100 people. To be fair, two Government Ministers and a Special Adviser were guilty of breaking the rules without redress. Some may well have used that as an excuse to break the rules themselves.

There has been a lot of passing the blame to others. E.g., when there was a shortage of PPE, NHS staff were accused using it inappropriately.  Recently, the shortage of tests was blamed on people asking for a test when they didn't need one. Last night, it was the sector of the public who refused to follow the rules that meant Johnson had to introduce harsh measures. 

The country has a Prime Minister who likes to be cheerful and rosy, putting a positive spin on everything. He has made many false promises starting with the one where he said it would all be over in 12 weeks. Last night, he tried to placate his message with the notion that by Spring things would be much better, there would be a vaccine and half a million tests a day that would give instant results. It is good to be optimistic but that optimism needs to be tempered by realism. 

  

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