Moving Forward – managing the next stage of the pandemic

Over the last week there has been a second wave of COVID-19 hitting a number of other European countries. These countries had the virus earlier than the UK and appeared to have the virus under control. Inevitably this heightens concerns about a possible second wave of the virus in the UK. Along with considering how this can best be managed the second time around, knowing what we know now about transmission and prevention.

The primary approach of the Government to a potential second wave is a more targeted approach. That has meant opening up ‘travel-corridors’ or ‘air bridges’ between approved countries where it is prudent to do so, as well as shutting these bridges where it is necessary, including at very short notice. That targeted approach has seen some areas, such as Leicester, be required to have tighter restrictions than the rest of the country. For example, keeping certain businesses and venues closed when these have been re-opened elsewhere.

Lately it has been suggested that second wave restrictions might be individual and risk-based – identifying people who are more at risk and requiring them to take specific or different action to others. This would be likely to be an extended shielding-style approach, if implemented.

Such approaches – geographical lockdown to risk-based individual assessment – together with compulsory restrictions on everyone – from wearing masks to keeping social distance – could not be imagined before the pandemic.

At the heart of the second wave strategy is a determination that the country needs to function again. That business, the economy, children’s education, cannot be closed forever. And with that determination that our economy, education and way of life must continue is the recognition that our personal liberty, freedoms and decisions must also be curtailed. Such measures that are put in place must still be proportionate, reasonable and effective to the task of keeping the virus under control.

Each of us must continue to play our part – from sticking to the restrictions imposed to starting up again where we now can do so. This is a killer virus, and vigilance must be the watchword. But alongside vigilance it is essential that the virus does not destroy our economy, the future of our children and our way of life.

That’s why I have welcomed the Invicta Summer Academy. This initiative provides free online lessons for young people from across Kent to help them prepare for the next school year. It is another of many voluntary initiatives that demonstrate that people are not standing by, waiting for government and local authorities to sort everything out; but are taking the lead and getting the nuts and bolts in place to move forward together.

These are most extraordinary times. Undoubtedly there are more challenges ahead. But we must continue to make the best of what we have and continue to work together to support each other in our community and our country.

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