Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 20th May 2020

The Government’s guidance is that we need to ‘Stay alert’, that is alert to their five stage Covid-19 alert system. The UK is at level 4, meaning the ‘epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially’. Meaning we must: ‘Stay at home as much as possible’, ‘Limit contact with other people’, and ‘Keep your distance if you go out’.

Let’s be clear: this means the lockdown remains in full force. While the Government has set out how they will scale back restrictions when the infection rate has reduced sufficiently, the timetable remains provisional and almost nothing has changed since the lockdown began.

The UK’s infection rate remains close to peak, decreasing at a far slower rate than other countries, and that means if people spend time outside of their home unnecessarily, if they meet up with people when it isn’t critical, and if they ignore the social distancing requirements infections will increase, and with them death rates.

Covid-19 has killed more British civilians than the Luftwaffe achieved in the whole of the Second World War. Those people aren’t just numbers, they’re people’s friends and family, deprived of their full measure of life.

Unfortunately, since the Government’s announcement we are seeing far greater numbers of people on our streets, very often ignoring the social distancing requirements. That continues to breach the guidelines, those individuals risk being fined by the police and their actions jeopardise all that has been achieved to limit the spread of the disease.

Controlling the coronavirus has come at a huge cost. The size of the UK economy is shrinking quickly, with tens of thousands of local jobs at risk, and the council facing a 15% cut in its budget. To help the disease to spread now is allow all that sacrifice, the pain of which we will only begin to feel after the lockdown ends, to be wasted for no reason.

The council is preparing plans to reverse the lockdown in Crawley, but until the infection rate has dropped significantly, we won’t do anything which will jeopardise local residents’ health or put our NHS at risk.

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