89 Not Out: Day 52, When is the Lockdown Not a Lockdown?

S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of the lockdown, as someone with diabetes. It’s Day 52 and Ian is angry to see some people are not taking social distancing or the lockdown as seriously as they should.

Thursday 7th May, Day 52 of 89.

When is a lockdown not a lockdown? 

Brace yourself chums, I am a touch cross today.

The daily news is not a particularly edifying space at the moment and there is little joy in it. But one story has really riled me.

It was about a flight from Belfast City airport to London Heathrow, where photos emerged that showed the plane was quite crowded and not observing social distancing. A statement from the airline said, ‘The safety and security of [our] customers and crew is our top priority.’

I don’t know the airline staff member who wrote that personally, but it looks like a big, fat lie. 

Let’s start with an aeroplane. It’s a sealed metal tube. They don’t open the bloody windows to let fresh air in, so whatever you breathe out gets sucked up and blown back into the plane the air ‘circulates’. Even if you observed social distancing, the plane is going to get you. I used to have to regularly travel for work and we openly discussed having a touch of ‘BA flu’ after picking up sniffles after a long haul trip. 

Next, geography, Belfast is in the UK. London is in the UK. The UK is in ‘lockdown’, allegedly, so can anyone explain how travelling between the two cities constitutes going out for essential items, travelling to work if you can’t work from home, or taking your daily exercise?

Nope, me neither.

What really ground my gears is that nobody who covered the story seemed to get the big picture. They focussed on social distancing but forgot to ask, ‘Why are all those dummies travelling within the UK by plane?’

[Editor’s note: UK guidance on air travel currently states, ‘You should not travel by air unless your journey is essential.’ Government guidance says that whether international travel is essential or not ‘is a personal decision and circumstances differ from person to person. It is for individuals themselves to make an informed decision based on the risks and FCO advice.’ See also FullFact What counts as essential travel during the Covid-19 lockdown?’]

This set me thinking and I hopped onto the interweb and typed ‘arrivals London Heathrow’.

I really wish I hadn’t as I saw a long list of planes coming in from China, New Zealand, the USA and pretty much everywhere else in the world. 

The interweb is currently full of ‘The government got lockdown wrong’, stories, with many advocating that lockdown should have happened both sooner, or not at all, or that the lockdown should be both extended and eased.

But in my view, the government has definitely got it wrong.

Knowing the little I do about pandemics, I know that right now nobody knows if that’s true, and we won’t know for another 18 months.

Today though I am prepared to say out loud: ‘What is the bloody point of locking down if you are ok to let plane loads of people move about the UK, and/or let dozens of plane loads of people into the UK?’

It properly bloody irks me that we are all being compliant, while this feels like a massive miss to let tin cans full of potential virus soup get cracked open at our airports. 


Further information

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Calls for Passenger Face Covering and Crew Masks, Opposes Social Distancing (5th May 2020)


Don’t miss Ian’s diary each day, keep an eye out for new entries here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast. How are you managing the lockdown at the moment? Get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your experiences and any hints and tips you’re finding helpful right now.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

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