Opinion: Confused messaging from government
PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 July 2020
I am sure the vast majority of readers are relieved that life is returning to a version of normal following the hardships of lockdown.
It is important for the economic and mental health of our nation that our high streets open up again and we are allowed to spend time with family and friends.
My staff and I have spoken to countless local families who really struggled through lockdown in overcrowded accommodation, and businesses who are falling through the cracks of the government’s grants system.
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I am concerned, however, that the government’s imprecise and confused messaging is fostering a complacency we can ill afford and could lead to a second spike and many more deaths.
The guidance regarding “discretionary” wearing of face coverings in shops which some ministers were advocating until Monday’s U-turn, for instance, is entirely inappropriate for the circumstances and is hardly likely to encourage widespread wearing.
The government was also too slow to lock down Leicester and, when it finally did so, it failed to provide proper guidance to the local authority or the police on how to enforce it.
Too many times during this crisis the government has proved itself to be reactive, not proactive; too slow to respond to events and, in the case of the Dominic Cummings affair, guilty of rank hypocrisy.
This has fatally undermined its ability to lead the nation through this crisis with the kind of authority that is vital when people are still being asked to make big sacrifices for the common good.
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