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Why it’s time to end the Lockdown & how to let life resume and face whatever happens next

April 6, 2020 8 comments

img_551713 days into this brave new world and you can see that the novelty of the Lockdown and social distancing is beginning to wear thin.

A week from now, the news that 3 weeks of this was just the start of something much longer will be beginning to sink in.

But by then the pain will already be less about being kept inside our homes. It will be more about how people can continue to live and the question of how businesses will survive an indefinite Lockdown, just so they can get to the end of the Lockdown and still exist.

There is a disaster unfolding behind the media coverage and focus on equipping and preparing the NHS to treat a significant number of critical-case Coronavirus Patients.

This real crisis is much bigger than many could comprehend, even if it was something that they could now visibly see.

Already there are businesses that have closed for the Lockdown that will never reopen. Others will close as the Lockdown continues. Some will survive until it is clear they cannot service a growing mountain of debt that accumulates daily, simply because the Government did not think through the implications of what a full Lockdown would mean on so much of our business sector and industry.

The Government has simply failed to comprehend how businesses and the people who own and run them need to be supported so that they will be there to provide services, products and employment for the many others who will need them when the time comes to restart.

Yet to hear the media and read the non-stop commentary wherever you look, the only game in town is ‘Protecting the NHS’.

Don’t get me wrong, we need the NHS to be fully equipped and ready to do the best for people that it can. But with Field Hospitals like the London Nightingale now open and others around the Country clearly earmarked for opening very soon, the political focus needs to move swiftly to the unseen crisis that is beginning to evolve across our Country.

The hard truth is that deaths that will sooner or later become inevitable anyway should really be a lower level priority against what is now set to become a very extensive list of problems that people attempting to live their lives are having to or soon will have to face.

It feels very unpalatable to even think, let alone say that you have to accept and be prepared to let some people die, so that the majority of others can continue to live.

The problem is that it is also the truth.

The Government has backed itself into a corner by implementing the Lockdown. There is no risk-free way out.

Coronavirus Testing will be too slow to be any help in reducing the time it will take to try and manage the process of infection for the whole population.

Using tools such as Immunity Certificates would create massive social problems – if the Government then used the force that would be necessary to keep people who haven’t had Coronavirus at home – which is what they would have to do if they let those who have had it are able to have lives and everyone else does everything they can to catch it, so they can do the same too.

Whilst no politician wants to hear it said of them that they deliberately let people die when some of them could be saved, the harsh reality is that if we are to get out of this Crisis and the Coronavirus Pandemic in the best shape possible, we must all accept that in the world we live in, a life isn’t life if a person cannot actually live.

It is difficult for some to understand this, because in the form of the personal tragedies that we see rolled out continually on TV and the stories of he NHS in crisis that we hear daily, Coronavirus has given the intrinsic fear of death that we all share both a face and a name. It has taken on a very visual and highly emotive form.

The reality is that people are going to die from Coronavirus with or without the Lockdown and it would be much healthier for people, the whole Country and our economy if the Lockdown was ended and we got life restarted as quickly as possible and then dealt with each case of Coronavirus and its respective knock-on effects as we go along.

The genuinely vulnerable members of our society who are likely to be most at risk will continue to be at the same level of risk until a vaccine has been identified, tested and administered to them.

The time that it would take as a minimum to vaccinate everyone – given what will be a worldwide demand – will simply be too long for any civilized Country to wait for whilst keeping a shutdown in place.

Our high-profile Politicians like to talk up the Crisis as if it is like fighting a war. In the Second World War when Campaigns such as Operation Overlord and the D-Day Landings were planned, Prime Ministers, Presidents and the advising Generals around them literally worked out how many lives they would have to sacrifice on the battlefield to get the job done, so that the wider populations of their Countries and the World itself would win the fight against oppression in the end.

Such responsibility and leadership in strategic thinking is required of the leaders that we have now. The Politicians have talked the talk to win power. Now they must walk the walk to enact that power and see this through.

The implications of the Lockdown would not have been nearly so bad, had the Government taken an even handed and fair approach to mitigating the impact of the imposed standstill on workers of every kind and businesses alike.

But they didn’t, and this means that how the end of the Lockdown and the restart of life is managed must take into consideration where things are right now and where they will be rather than where they were before it started, because this whole situation is evolving each and every day.

It’s time for the Lockdown to end now. It’s time for life to restart.

There is no perfect way to plan the fight against Coronavirus, or to put together a strategy for ending the Lockdown, letting life restart and managing cases of Coronavirus either now or thereafter. There are simply too many unknowns and variables within what is a live and evolving Crisis for that ever to be the way.

However, we can ask that the Politicians do their best, and in terms of ending the Lockdown now and getting life back on track, these are some of the key things that they can now do.

Notification of Coronavirus Symptoms

Perhaps the key factor or source of information that the Government needs going forward, is clear and decisive record of who has experienced Coronavirus Symptoms – even if no medical intervention has been involved.

  • Upon first experiencing Coronavirus Symptoms, individuals should be able to Register using their individual identification data on the Government Portal.
  • This responsibility to register would become that of parents, carers and guardians for children and vulnerable people
  • Nobody should be able to claim Coronavirus Sickness Benefit without having registered first.
  • In the first instance and until such time as it is confirmed whether Symptoms of Coronavirus could be suffered more than once, individuals would be able to claim only once,
  • The data can then be used to distribute the Coronavirus Antibody Test once it is universally available and thereby technically available to all
  • On completion of registration, the Government Portal should allocate a unique reference number for every individual to use to claim benefits such as Coronavirus Sick Pay and payment holidays

The NHS

It will remain essential to keep resources flowing towards the NHS so that it can manage the critical stages of the Coronavirus related illness that some people will inevitable suffer – just as they are now.

Field Hospitals, Intensive Care Units, Ventilator numbers and the recruitment rate of staff will have to continue to rise until the natural infection rate and the number of people it will effect critically at any particular time has been reached.

This will not be long once the restart has begun. But there is likely to be a period of time where it doesn’t look like the NHS can cope and numbers of people are dying who might have been saved, had more resources been in place.

‘Protect the NHS’ is the Trojan horse argument that led to the shutdown as the chosen way to attempt to manage demand in the first place. It’s where the Government went fundamentally wrong.

  • Local Trusts should set up Designated Reception Centres, separate to GP Surgeries and Hospital Reception areas used for other purposes
  • Local dedicated helplines should be provided to field calls from those with symptoms
  • Dedicated Ambulance provision should be put in place for Coronavirus sufferers
  • The general emergency Ambulance fleet should be kept separate.
  • Serious consideration should be given to requiring benefits claimants to report for duty as healthcare assistants, with full pay, work and training options to be offered after a qualifying or probationary period.

The Restart itself

The way to lift the shutdown isn’t to try and overcomplicate things by using terms such as calling it ‘gradual’ or ‘taking things in steps’, or anything else that even hints at there being some form of managed delay.

Whilst we might all like to think that the world as we knew it before March could just be switched back on at 9am on Monday morning it won’t happen no matter what we do. The time it will take those businesses still operating to return to full operation will take a lot longer than it took them to shut down. That is before you take into consideration the natural trepidation that many people are going to have as a result of the negativity and scaremongering that has taken place on the part of the media.

Even now, barely a fortnight in to the Lockdown, things will have changed markedly and they will continue to do so each and every day until the new norm for life begins.

People and businesses are going to work differently, travel differently and think differently. So the resumption of participating in everyday life will take time under its own steam, without anyone or anything else being involved.

Social Distancing

Social distancing in areas where people are usually in close proximity will be a good measure to retain formally, even though people are likely to keep their distance for some time as it has already become an accepted part of life.

Even if social distancing plays no further active part in dealing with Coronavirus – given that there are very recent suggestions that the Virus can remain active in air for up to three hours – it will help address any social awkwardness that will exist for some people once the Media’s negative messaging campaign is over and done.

Sick Pay

  • Everyone working who has unable to work because they have caught Coronavirus should be able to rely on having Coronavirus Sick Pay
  • The Sick Pay should last a calendar month from the date of registration
  • There should not be a laborious process of application involving claims for Universal Credit or applications via Jobcentres or the DWP.
  • The Coronavirus sick pay should be claimed on behalf of employees by employers and paid as part of the monthly PAYE process
  • The self employed and/or contract workers should be able to claim their sick pay back as part of their next Annual Tax Return.
  • The reference number allocated at registration should be used by employers for PAYE purposes and on individual Tax Returns.

People

Fundamentally, it is essential that every member of the population is treated like an adult, trusted to do the right thing and given no excuse to do otherwise. To support everyone, the Government must ensure that all practical issues people may experience if and when they suffer with Coronavirus has been mitigated against adequately and given added value as an incentive too.

Put simply, if there’s no way people can lose out, they will do the right thing.

  • Any individual, their parent, carer or guardian will register Coronavirus Symptoms using the Government Portal
  • Upon registration, individuals should be required to immediately self-isolate and remain isolated for a minimum of 14 days
  • Upon experiencing escalating symptoms, individuals should report to local NHS designated reception centres or call designated helplines if transport or an ambulance is required
  • All domestic bills, rents, leases, loans, interest and debt repayments to stopped for a month as a ‘Payment Holiday’
  • Individuals to use the reference number provided when they registered with the Government Portal to confirm they are on a legitimate payment holiday with debtors or those they should normally pay.
  • A payment of approx £100 per week to be payable to every individual Registered in the ‘Coronavirus Window’ for a period of four weeks to cover food and essentials

The Vulnerable

  • The vulnerable have to be allowed to make their own decision about the risk, about remaining in isolation, or returning to ‘normal life’. They should not be pressured to go either way.
  • Benefits Claimants without medical conditions and unemployed should be tasked with providing the support currently provided by volunteers.

For Business

  • Businesses of all sizes should be protected from the impact of the Lockdown for the period of time it will take things to return to or find the new normal, once the Lockdown has been lifted.
  • Where necessary support should be applied retrospectively to the 23rdof March 2020, if not the point in time before that when levels of business within marketplaces are recognised as having began to decline in response to the early stages of the Coronavirus Crisis.
  • All businesses should have a 3-6 months ‘payment holiday’ from rents, leases, mortgages, repayments, interest, debt
  • Heavy fines and/or jail terms should be immediately awarded by a District Judge without trial or appeal, to any Creditor, Company, Director or Partner thereof refusing to facilitate the ‘payment holiday’ and/or attempting to recover any related sums using other or additional debt devices or levying additional payments or raising prices relating to that relationship

Funerals

For the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Government should intervene to ensure that the disposal of bodies is facilitated without delay, without price gouging or profiteering and is provided on the basis of a same-level, community service for all.

  • The Government should set a fixed, realistic cost for a ‘standard’ funeral with a transparent minimal fixed margin and no additional payments being made for anything not specified
  • The Government should pay the cost of ALL Funerals at the standard rate for the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Local Authorities should administer the allocation of care of the deceased and funerals to local undertakers on a take-it-in-turns basis
  • Local Authorities should administer payments to undertakers and make them immediately
  • All funerals should be provided on the same basis and not open to change or being ‘upgraded’ by additional payments from families etc
  • Funeral Insurance payouts to either be split with the cost of the standard funeral being returned to the Government and any outstanding balance returned to the family or estate, or simply paid out to the family or estate

The Media

Whilst free society needs a free press, the current approach, lack of ethical standards and reliance on dressing up subjective opinion as news requires that Government take a different approach and one that doesn’t play into the system as it is.

  • The forward briefing, advance copies of Government speeches and embargoed press releases need to stop.
  • Regulation needs to be introduced that requires news to be news, and for the mainstream media to promote the wider concept of the principle of charity in all things, rather than constantly looking for every opportunity to create negative spin.

#endthelockdownnow

The World cannot stay stopped until a vaccine is found. Difficult choices need to be made

March 31, 2020 3 comments

No, the novelty still hasn’t worn off. We are being good humoured about the shutdown and it feels almost remarkable how quickly we have all adapted to standing in staggered lines, following taped distance lines on the floor, and stepping into the road to make space for other walkers or waiting for someone else to pass.

But this is now. Only 8 days have passed.

If you make the mistake of watching non-stop news coverage, you are likely to be slowly turning mad. The coverage is disproportionately negative or just focused on the personal tragedies and the challenges that are being faced by all the emergency service personnel and above all the NHS Staff who are involved.

Nobody could or should try to take away what is happening for the real people and patients on the front line. But a big problem for us all is that the very nature of media and television today gives the immediate impression that all of this is what is actually happening right now in our front rooms.

Yes, the risk that any of us could go through the same is very real. But the reality of Coronavirus itself is that it will not affect everyone the same.

However, the response, or rather the shutdown has already effected us all, and it’s going to affect us all a whole lot more. It’s affecting many people in ways that may not already, but soon will be causing them – and perhaps you – a great deal of pain. The chain reaction of debt, homelessness and businesses closing down is likely to become like a never-ending downward cycle where the impact will be multiplied as it ripples out more and more and starts to impact on all of us, not just as individuals, but as a whole.

Like most meanings lurking in the subtext and hidden in plain sight of all current political speak, the elephant in the room behind all the daily Downing Street Briefings is this shutdown in its current form cannot end either until everyone has caught the Virus (this dreadful term ‘Herd Immunity’), or a Vaccination has been found, tested and rolled out so that everyone is know to be immune.

Testing on the scale that would make it practical for everything to return to normal isn’t available and is unlikely to be so anytime soon. In fact, the Government managed to conduct around only 7000 tests last Saturday – whereas across the UK we have a total population of 60,000,000 or more.

When and if large scale antibody testing is available, the problem remains that many of us will to have caught the Virus and we still don’t know if people can catch Covid-19 multiple times. So if everyone were just allowed to return to normal at that point, there could again be a significant peak and demand for the NHS, and we could end up having a repeat of the shutdown any number of times.

Whilst the Government has the power to maintain the Shutdown or indeed to make it worse, it is very questionable for it to do so in these circumstances, because in terms of all of the knock-on effects, impacts and consequences that are hitting people and affecting our lives in other ways.

The Shutdown – or a series of them – cannot go on or be maintained for the many months that are now being talked about as a bare minimum. To do so will break what is left of the economy, any ability the Government still had to reduce the National Debt will evaporate and the inadequacy of the financial help given even to people who think they are safe now will make life difficult for so many people that the solution to the Coronavirus problem will have turned out to be significantly worse for the majority of people than it will have been to facilitate the cure or rather treatment of the few.

That is of course is if the consent of the Public for the Government to rule in this way should remain the same as it is now. Odds are that it won’t.

We know that many people have probably already had Covid-19, or that they will suffer very mild symptoms if they do. At some point soon, the emphasis will have to shift from everyones lives being stopped to focus on preventing people catching the Virus, to allowing everyone to restart and get on with life, then only focusing on what happens when they contract Covid-19 when they do.

The current approach is solely focused on preventing the NHS from becoming overwhelmed without real consideration for how the shutdown to facilitate this is impacting on every other part of life. The shutdown is based on too many variables, unknowns and the fear that has taken on a disproportionate value in the reality and thinking of politicians and their advisers who are only equipped to think subjectively and not objectively about the wider picture and the problems that their actions are going to cause.

As soon as the great British Companies and collaborations that have come together to build ventilators and support the expansion of the NHS effort have done their stuff and there are field hospitals set up around the Country to support a realistic level of critical need, it is essential that the Country be allowed to return to work and our normal activities are allowed to resume.

The hard truth is that not everyone will be ill at the same time, even with no social distancing in place, and that whatever happens a still significant number of the people infected with Covid-19 will regrettably die. We all have to accept that just like cancer, accidents, many other lesser-known diseases, illnesses and medical conditions – and of course the seasonal or winter flu, this is just another route added to an inevitable list of reasons from which all bodies will at some point die.

Rather than turning the UK into a Police state, it would be much better for the Government – to treat EVERYONE like the adults, responsible parents and carers that the majority are and put in place the systems and procedures that will encourage people to present themselves either for care and treatment or self-isolation as many already are. If nobody is going to lose out in any way by doing the right thing, it will work effectively and efficiently as everything restarts and keeps running. Then before you know it, ‘Herd Immunity’ or whatever you name you want to call the place where we actually need to be will become a real thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, there are positives that are likely to come from this Crisis. The most significant will be a new ‘norm’

March 27, 2020 Leave a comment

Fear has gripped the Nation. Whether its fear of catching Coronavirus. Fear of not having enough toilet paper or fear of not having enough to eat. Fear of being fined or worse for going out in the way that days ago we took for granted. Fear and how it runs and rules our lives has suddenly become very obvious to us all.

The immediate question is will we all learn the lessons that the role of fear and it’s impact on our lives involves?

But what if fear isn’t the only thing we are now waking up to that has influenced and taken over our lives and has only become apparent to us since the Coronavirus Shutdown occurred?

Right now, the novelty of having our lives placed at a standstill has still to run its course. But for many, a realisation has started to unfold in front of us that is showing us very clearly how habit has been dictating life in so many ways and takes over pretty much from the minute that we were born.

Routines like going for coffee, where we shop and how we respond to the influences that prompt us to choose how we dress are all routine. They are the tip of a culture that we have bean brought up and conditioned to accept as normal, which is based upon material wealth and little more.

Money has become the lifeblood of everything.

What is more, the role of money, its importance to us and its suggested value has been successfully used to manipulate us. Banks and big finance have taken over the responsibility for its generation and flow, and cheap money facilitated by ignorant politicians has made us debt dependent. Those in control have swamped the world with money that didn’t come from any other source, making themselves ever richer, whilst what money we already have has gone down in value repeatedly making many of us feel like we are a lost cause.

But that was before Coronavirus arrived.

What this enforced space to think and see life differently is likely to reveal to many is that putting money and material wealth before anything else is never really going to have a happy ending.

I’ve been writing blog after blog about the reality of how badly the impact of the shutdown is going to affect people of all backgrounds simply because they have lost or are about to lose their income.

I have argued that the Government should simply stop the payment of bills, interest and accumulating debt of any kind for everyone. Because without the income to service bills and debt even partially, it is easy to see and understand the pain and misery that lack of money is going to cause – when it doesn’t need to be like this and there isn’t any need for it to be so.

The banks, the finance houses and big business only have the ability to make politicians think that bills must always be paid, because politicians think the way that normal people think.

Yet there is no golden rule or higher law that says money and interest must always be paid back on time, or that the application of interest for lending or debt should be payable at whatever the created rate might be.

Yet economists and the people who work in finance have managed to surround themselves with what seems to be a perpetual myth. A false or at best hollow idea that they have secret and esoteric knowledge about money, how it should be handled and that this understanding, alone and only in their hands will keep an economy strong.

Relaxation of restrictions under thinking such as neoliberalism has made the situation worse. And the open secret hiding in plain sight that we should all be aware of as we weigh up the situation that we are now in is that these banks and financiers literally create or print the money that they lend out to us at interest. They then manipulate everything so that money can be made at every angle without the need to add value, whilst the amount of money available inevitably means that we all have less, whilst they end up with significantly more.

Climate issues, poverty, the cost of living, going into debt simply to live. Before the Coronavirus arrived, it was the march of this form of greed-driven capitalism that pushed globalisation and cutting the corners that hurt us and future generations. It has been sold to us insidiously as the way for us to access the material possessions and things what we are continually told that must have or that we need at cheaper prices, whilst the value of our earnings have gone down and the goods we then believe we want quickly become too expensive to easily afford.

Its a vicious and destructive cycle that politicians have the power to and should have already stopped.

But we are now in the place where things could easily change.

People across this Country are now being forced – ironically by the incompetence of our political classes – to see the value in life, in things that are not material and therefore that we don’t have to have money to afford.

Our real wealth is in the way that we see the world. How we interact with others. How we help and support each other in a crisis. How we make allowance for the way that others think and see the world differently. How we take collective responsibility for the resources and the world that we share.

Money isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. But the way that we all see it, think about it and revere it is certainly going to change very soon.

We are now seeing that we can work and operate very differently. That we have been liberated and are not enslaved to the behaviours that ruled us before.

When the Coronavirus Crisis is over, we may not see the change as it happens around us, but we are going to want things to be run differently and the time will have come for big business to accept that it can no longer rule our lives, our environment or our politics and there is going to be a very different way of us living our lives, our travel and how we look at economics and business across the world in store.

This is a time when nature has intervened to call time on the selfishness of man, did away with the old and gave us the tools to create the new ‘norm’.

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