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People are angry because they’ve been locked down but to no good effect, so it has gone on and on and on, destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.
Lockdown is meant to have a purpose. It’s for getting infections down to low enough numbers that trace-test-quarantine can take over, but to do that it needs to be very thorough. It’s no good just telling people to stay home unless they are also given money to keep their lives going, because people will avoid getting tested so that they can go out and work. I know someone who did that; she was working as a carer visiting old people in their homes. She continued to work even when she developed symptoms, because she needed the money. She convinced herself that she just had a head cold or a mild dose of flu. A few days later a routine test by the care company came back positive, so she went into “self isolation” – except of course that (1) it was too late by then and (2) she lived with other family members so it wasn’t isolation – at no point has the UK government set up quarantine facilities.
Sometimes it’s the employers. I have another friend who was working in a care home kitchen. Kitchen staff were asking the management for time off to self isolate because they were getting symptoms, but against government guidelines the management were sending them for lateral flow tests and insisting that they kept working until a test came back positive, because management couldn’t find interim staff to cover for sick leave. Staff were calling the place a “covid cess pit”. My friend’s job included making up the meal lists; she watched the number of meals drop from sixty to forty as the residents died off. Management had residents locked in their rooms, while the staff infected them with covid. My friend had symptoms for three days before her test came back positive. She was then permitted time off. When she returned to work after her illness, the kitchen chef had been killed by it. He was 61.
This was in the second lockdown, back in January this year. By then, this country had had a year to reorganise to cope with covid, but it hadn’t been done.
Governments have lost the trust of the people through incompetence, slavish adherence to their neoliberal ideology, and years of deception and spin. Their ideologically hobbled, half-hearted lockdowns were doomed to failure by having no quarantine, no kerbside food distribution, and no support for the poorest workers. The failure of the lockdowns has made increasing numbers of people think that there must have been some ulterior motive, so they are turning to conspiracy theory instead, which just makes matters worse.
It’s a colossal tragedy unfolding before our very eyes, but it is nothing compared with what the growing climate and ecological crisis will become unless we learn the lessons of this pandemic.