There are almost no words for the announcement that, from the end of May, incoming air passengers will be quarantined for 2 weeks, something which should have been implemented months ago.
As posted here earlier this week, there was always the possibility of the contact tracing app being challenged in the courts because of privacy concerns. Now, in what could be quite some climb-down, we hear the government is seriously considering switching to the Apple/Google decentralised model. If this comes to pass, will the payment which will have already been made to Ben Warner’s brother’s company be rescinded? Or will that be another bad debt like so many other examples during the last few years?
As the lockdown debate continues throughout the Bank Holiday weekend (and many more people out and about than there were), there’s mounting pressure for a more nuanced approach to prevent further unnecessary mental distress. I don’t think there are clear figures for the UK yet but for Australia we hear modelling from the Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre predicts deaths linked to suicide would be more than four times those directly caused by coronavirus. It’s also well-known that much mental distress will be experienced behind closed doors, people not necessarily publicly acknowledging it. Age UK and various MPs have said there can be no justification for keeping the over-70s at home while other age groups are given more liberty unless there is clear medical advice. I wasn’t expecting to be quite envious of the Welsh if they’re soon to be allowed access to libraries and recycling tips! It’s essential that we encompass some risk in life, because life itself is a risk and not doing so constitutes existing rather than living. Writer and academic A L Kennedy spoke last night about the perception of risk.
What did you think of the Queen’s VE Day message? Whether you’re a royalist, republican or some way in between, these broadcasts are quite powerful, partly, perhaps, because we can derive more reassurance and psychological holding from our monarch than our elected leaders. “Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day”.
There were certainly mixed views about this event and it’s sobering to be reminded of the connection between VE Day and the crisis. A Today programme listener tweeted: ‘The veterans we honoured yesterday are the same ones we are failing to protect in care homes, dying as a result of lack of PPE and testing’.
In the context of the need to keep pollution down, social distancing lasting for another 12-18 months at least and the urgent need to enable alternatives to public transport and the car, measures like widening of pavements and more cycle lanes are being planned. But a key point captured by some including natural world writer Rob MacFarlane is that this isn’t ‘just’ about travelling – it’s about the much wider opportunity to redesign our cities, one we should seize. The BBC reports that just 9% of people want a return to pre-lockdown life. Although habit change is difficult, ‘the crisis has transformed behaviours overnight’. This sounds genuine and not the comment of an opportunist: “We’ve got this really precious moment to change how we live and we can’t let it slip between our fingers. Let this tragedy re-define, in a positive way, what living in cities is about,” (Will Butler-Adams, the CEO of UK bike manufacturer Brompton).
There are three radio programmes later you might find interesting and if you miss them at the time you can catch up on BBC Sounds. One is the regular (only 15 minutes) Profile series on key figures, tonight’s being New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s gained more public recognition for his honest and humble COVID stance, in contrast to that of POTUS.
The second is the series featuring the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, talking to other artistic figures in his shed – tonight Anthony Gormley. These conversations always sound so natural and engaging you wonder if Armitage already knows his interviewees or can just relate to them and draw them out immediately, although some will need less drawing out than others.
In the third, highly relevant because so many are complaining of it and the ‘I’m bored’ hashtag is trending on Twitter, comedian and performance poet Phil Jupitus explores and reframes the concept of boredom. ‘So do we still need to be bored? And what would we miss if we did eliminate boredom completely from our lives?’ Should be thought-provoking.
Finally, we must be relieved to hear that after a dispute lasting months, the prestigious Forbes magazine has now conceded to recognise rapper Kanye West as a billionaire. (Although West had been featured on August’s cover the accompanying profile had apparently not acknowledged his wealth). Nothing like having a sense of priorities!