Initial response to Covid-19 "lockdown"

Plenty of space for social distancing
  • [Having re-read this in 2023 I'm still happy with the content of what I wrote here but I slightly regret the tone. In terms of the content, this article was written immediately after the ridiculous imperative was issues saying we were only to go outside for exercise once per day - an obviously absurd idea which, to be fair, the Government never tried to put into law, but, at the time of writing, there was a state of general confusion between what was law and what was guidance. Nonetheless, the tone of some of the article - upon rereading - seems to go along with the general alarmism of the time - this kind of tone might not have helped in resisting the awful Covid Laws which I always opposed. However, being fair to the Government, while the Covid Laws were terrible and, indeed, were sometime breeched not just by their opoonants but also by those advocating for them, they were also, generally, milder than what was called for by the Labour Party, milder than what was being advocated by senior civil servants and advisors, and milder than what was inflicted on the people of many other countries. Anyway, there is no point in being revisionist about what one wrote in the past, so I leave the article here, even if I am not desperately happy with how it reads in 2023.]

During the Covid-19 pandemic we must all take seriously our duty to avoid infecting others with Covid-19. Clearly the best way to do this is by following much of the Government advice, such as the advice about hand washing, being careful with touch, in various ways, and social distancing - maintaining 2-4 metres separation between people not living in the same household.

Clearly we must also Self-Isolate if we have symptoms of Covid-19, as well as following the NHS guidance about household isolation).

We are now all very much more aware of when we touch our faces, and we all know about the benefits of washing hands with soap and water (preferably hot) while singing one verse of, variously: the national anthem, the red flag, now the green blade rises etc.

For other surfaces, the clear scientific advice is that surfaces not touched within 72 hours are prohibitively unlikely to harbour viable virus. This is true even for the worst surfaces, such as plastic, which may be able to remain damp for a number of days. Wood kills the virus faster, but dry, absorbent fibres (e.g. wool/cotton) or catylitic metals (e.g. copper) are likely to kill the virus quickest – though time frames are still measured in days or hours, so not as fast as soapy water.

We also know that coronovirus can be spread from tidal (i.e. ordinary) breathing, hence the new phrase for 2020 “social distancing”. There are some obvious scientific caveats, clearly wind direction can have its obvious effect, equally clearly, in very crowded places, even what might naively seem to be a proper social distance will not suppress the infection’s ability to spread in the way that operates in less crowded places (the inverse square law is probably a decent guide).

However, in a district which is 93% green belt there are plenty of places where, even before the “lockdown”, it is/was possible to remain a proper distance from other people, the footpaths in Ash are obviously the most isolated but it is more than possible to remain properly socially distant in every outdoor space in Ash and New Ash Green. (The one place this might be challenging is the village centre itself, but even then social distancing is still pretty trivial at most times of day.)

Locally, the vast majority of people are abiding by the proper distancing rules in outdoor spaces and, if you are doing that, then I suggest you can decide for yourself how seriously to take the idea of only leaving the house once per day for exercise. For example, I've been asked whether it is acceptable to spend time, alone, mowing the outfield of the cricket ground. Clearly this can be easily done without putting yourself or anybody else at risk, so the answer must be yes.

There are various coordinated volunteering efforts happening locally, and it is also fair to update you on some of what the District Council has been doing during this time.