I’ve been pondering my freedom lately. Not just my own, everyone else’s too.
Like most internationals, I returned home as the world plunged into a quarantine borne of well-justified panic. Here in Ireland almost all businesses have closed, including, shockingly, pubs. Now, as countries slowly ease lockdown measures, I’m beginning to ponder the direction most are taking.
I’m a mixture of glad and anxious to see measures being eased. I want freedom, but not a second wave of Covid-19, so it’s important that the right decisions are made. That said, the focus on when we can get back to our commutes and see our bosses again is bizarre. Public welfare extends far beyond this.
Apparently, I’m supposed to believe that everyone will agree to go back to work in a few weeks. But once we’re off the clock, we’re only allowed to be in groups of four people, while staying two meters apart for the foreseeable future. This pairing doesn’t seem realistic, so I’m sceptical of the approach.
If people are expected to commute and work together again, I can’t see them agreeing not to travel to see family, friends, and partners. The real problem here is, if we can’t have an honest discussion about the fact that a lot of us will absolutely do these things, then we can’t have realistic plan about how to successfully ease lockdown measures.
I want freedom, but not a second wave of Covid-19 so it’s important that the right decisions are made
This lack of realism extends to many conversations about easing measures happening now. For example, if we can’t allow spectators to gather in a football stadium or pub, then can we honestly re-open schools or universities? Some say these are ‘more important’, so they should open. But Covid-19 only needs a mass of people gathered together to spread; the value we attach to their reasons for being there doesn’t matter.
Interestingly, an official from the Dutch National Institute for Health and Environment (RIVM) recently said that people should find a ‘sex buddy’ for quarantine. Conceding to the reality that we need physical and social interaction, but also reminding us to be sensible and limit close contact to as few as possible.
This isn’t a recommendation to flaunt lockdown measures. Respect them. We’re in this for the long haul and we need to acknowledge reality in our plans if we’re going to succeed. Otherwise, we’ll end up back at the start and there are too many dead already to allow that.
Think co-operatively, don’t be selfish.