It was inevitable.
When the ball was dropped on Monday afternoon, it provided little doubt over what would be announced later that evening. As Boris Johnson confirmed a third national lockdown in England, there was a sense of disappointment and despair- but no surprise.
The UK has suffered horrendously at the hands of COVID-19, and in turn the government, where the morbid death toll stands at 75,431. The second highest in Europe – only a few hundred behind Italy – and the sixth-highest figure in the world gives for grim reading, serving as a stark reminder that Britain has a long way to go.
Cases are rising, deaths are increasing and the NHS is at breaking point: lockdown was the only option.
Completing the tragic trilogy, the third lockdown will be similar to the first one imposed last March: Working from home, schools mostly closing and the British people must stay at home.
Nobody will want to go back into lockdown, but desperate times call for the most desperate of measures.
While restrictions will be similar to those seen 10 months ago, a lot has changed. The new variant poses a greater threat to the nation, exemplified by the exponential rise in cases over the winter months. The vaccines, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca, provide the route to the end of the long-awaited tunnel.
But, most importantly of all, we know what we must do.
The UK is in an embarrassing position having to go into lockdown for a third time, yet with a golden opportunity to atone for their mistakes. The first two lockdowns both guided the government in their management of the pandemic, but they also exposed significant room for improvement.
Lockdown 1 was vital. The UK had to follow suit in the rest of Europe’s shutdown, in order to protect the NHS and save lives. While the first wave was deadly, the lockdown did aid the national effort against COVID-19, flattening the deadly curve and protecting what mattered most: human lives.
However, the government did not execute it to perfection.
Johnson left the announcement until late March, too late for many. Had he enforced a national lockdown just a week earlier, the death toll would have been halved.
There was also error in the lifting of restrictions, in particular the infamous ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. Initial easing was fine, such as removing the limit of daily exercise, but Rishi Sunak’s plan to save the economy ended up contributing to the eventual second wave.
Lockdown 2 should not have happened. The UK’s second spike was completely preventable and just as deadly as the first, resulting in more avoidable deaths and economic turmoil. Its lack of strict enforcement and regulations meant that it made little difference, failing to “save Christmas” as promised.
Nevertheless, it did provide a short-term impact on the pandemic. The number of daily cases fell by 44%, giving vital breathing space for frontline workers who otherwise would have been completely overwhelmed.
As we approach the start of Lockdown 3, it is time to end this once and for all.
A total, strict lockdown is what the nation needed, and although the economy faces another tough quarter, human life is far more valuable than currency. Locking down on the virus is the best form of attack, avoiding a deadly New Year surge and guiding the number of cases and deaths down.
The British people have already got through two lockdowns, and if this can suffice in being the final one, we can do it again. Third time will be the charm, but only if we come together and obey the rules again.
While everyone is at home, the government must prioritise the national vaccination programme. The UK is in a fantastic position with two proven vaccines at their disposal, and as doses continue to be distributed, they must be utilised in breakneck speed.
A constant rollout, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, will see the nation immunised as soon as possible. Getting 66.7 million people vaccinated is no easy feat, but with the third lockdown, the government is creating breathing space and opportunities for the country to receive the vaccine.
2020 was a tough year, but 2021 can be a brilliant one if everyone unites once more. It is time to come together, defeat COVID-19 and return to normality.
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