Apparently more people are worried that we are not taking enough precautions to protect ourselves from Covid-19 than want to get the economy moving again. In which case, I fear that — not for the first time — I shall be in a minority.
By now, every one of us can see the enormous damage being caused — not just to businesses of every description, not just to landlords, but to anyone involved in entertainment or food and beverage, or sport or exhibitions or conferences.
I could go on. There are countless young people who, the minute they’re not being furloughed, are going to end up on the dole. A year ago we had less than 3% unemployment. By Christmas, it will be closer to 15%.
I have long argued that the government’s strategy is all over the place. In the battle between the scientists and modellers arguing for more stringent lockdowns and the economists desperate to get the economy moving again, Boris Johnson can never decide whose side he’s actually on.
One of his key personality traits is an unwillingness to displease anybody. He understands the medical message and knows he has to pay attention to it, but he also understands how frustrated so many people are by the very restrictions the medics are calling for, because at heart he genuinely is a social liberal.
The virus may not justify the damage we are inflicting on future generations
He can also write a piece from any standpoint he chooses. Remember the two pieces he drafted, one saying we should leave the EU and the other arguing we should stay?
So let me state some medical facts you won’t hear too often from the increasingly irritable Mr Hancock. The population of the UK is routinely assumed to be about 66 million, although some estimates put it higher, at 68 million. The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 so far is about 43,300. That’s 0.065% of the population.
But that’s not the only statistic you don’t hear. More than half of those deaths have been among people over 85. Every death is a human tragedy and I don’t say this lightly, but as someone who is already the wrong side of three score years and 10, I know there comes a time when just a bad fall or a serious dose of ordinary influenza will send the family rushing to find the will.
Don’t visit granny
Perhaps more importantly, the risk of death from Covid in anyone under the age of 65 is truly very slight. Now I’m not advocating ignoring all the medical advice by any means, but don’t we all know that if someone in the family has a really bad cold, it might not be a good idea to visit granny?
Isn’t it obvious that people who are in the most vulnerable age groups should take great care when they go out and probably forgo the odd trip to the pub on nights you know it’ll be full?
Are we all such sheep that we need Nanny Hancock to tell us when we can leave our homes to walk the dog or buy some ‘non-essential’ gin and tonic?
There are serious debates now taking place about why it is that while cases are rising, deaths are remaining minuscule by proportion. On the day I write this, 12,600 people tested positive and there were 19 deaths. Most days, more people are committing suicide than dying of Covid. It turns out we’re healthier than previous generations, that the virus may not justify the extraordinary damage we are inflicting on future generations.
Donald Trump may be seriously ill with Covid or recover quite quickly. How he fares may well determine the outcome of the next presidential race. But either outcome is perfectly possible and the chances of his not making it until November are frankly pretty small.
Sure, let’s not go the full Don T. But let’s get a grip for goodness’ sake.
Steve Norris is chairman of Soho Estates and This Land