What would you have broken lockdown for? Is there anything that would have pushed you to move beyond the 2 metre distancing rules? We were told that these rules were essential, that we should not under any circumstances break them or risk spreading the virus, getting ill of even dying ourselves. People have expressed their concerns, teachers and parents alike have expressed their ill ease about moving back to the classroom. There were of course, those who questioned lockdown from the start arguing that the cost to freedom and the economy far outweighed the benefits but even they, and even if a little begrudgingly complied.
Yet we have gradually begun to see over time that some things were more important than the lock down rules.
- Parents travelled hundreds of miles around the country for their family, sometimes taking in a northern castle.
- Frustrated lovers slipped out for secret trysts
- Rules were bent so that people could visit their own parents
Then in the last few weeks we have seen that there are some things so important that for many people they become the highest priority. We have specifically seen this in the passionate outcry for justice that poured out onto our streets following the death of George Floyd.
We can understand the passion and maybe many of us will see a level of justification for the response. Less easy to square perhaps has been the scenes of people squeezing into street cafes in Paris this week or queuing outside shops in our towns and cities, often with little social distancing and few signs of face masks as well. The desire to shop has taking priority over the fear of a virus.
Now, I’ve followed some of the debate about which places should open first with interest over the past few weeks. I know a lot of church leaders and Christians have felt aggrieved at the way that religious gatherings appear to have been pushed down the pecking order behind shops, pubs and cinemas. Personally, I have not been worried by this for three reasons.
- Whilst not an ideal situation, we have learnt to do quite a lot via Zoom and Facebook.
- I have accepted the Government argument that this is not a value judgement on the role of churches but rather an assessment of the risk
- I suspect that there is benefit in seeing what happens over the next few weeks. If people see shops, schools, pubs etc returning without any sign of danger then it will build confidence and encourage them to start returning to church without fear. However, if we are quick to open and then there is a second wave of the virus then returning out of lockdown will be much harder second time around.
However, at the same time, I think we should be challenged. People have made it clear by their actions that there are things they are willing to value more when weighing up the risks of catching Coronavirus. This prompts the question among us as believers, is there anything we would prioritise over the risk of catching a virus? If so, under what circumstances would we feel pressed to make that call?