In a previous post, I argued that we need to be open with our church family about the risks associated with moving out of lockdown. As I explained in that article, this means that we should not engage in the over-hype which can happen when people are sharing alarmist headlines around social media. This will lead to a paralysis where people are to afraid to do anything.
However, at the other end of the spectrum can be a gung-ho naivety leading to complacency or even recklessness. Reading through the reports of churches experiencing COVID-19 spikes elsewhere, I am struck by some common themes, these include going along with an early end to lockdown when the levels of virus were still high as well as failing to social distance, wear face masks and refrain from physical contact.
We should not rush headlong, taking risks and being so hurried about opening up that we fail to heed wise advise.
COVID-19 is still with us and in fact whilst incidents in the UK are falling, around the world the virus is continuing to grow and to spread. So, we are going to need to be ultra-vigilant and continue to observe strict guidance for some time to come.
This is important, because I think there is still a level of perception amongst some that if we just give it a few more months then everything will be all clear and we will be able to return to normal. This won’t help because many people watch the death -rate figure but that does not tell us how prevalent the virus is. There will come a day when we will have gone 1 or 2 weeks without any deaths and we will all cheer but there will still be new cases of COVID-19 happening.
There are a few implications from this. The first is that when people start to feel more confident about coming out (I predict it will coincide with the return of schools), then that is when the greatest risk will be in terms of people dropping their guard and precipitating a second wave.
However, there is another reason why this is important. If people are hanging on, waiting for the day when things are better and we can guarantee that there is no risk whatsoever, then they will be waiting a long time.
We have been told that it will be after the New Year before churches begin to look anything like normal. Now, in a best case scenario, it either becomes clear that the virus has been vanquished or a vaccine becomes available. However, in a worst case scenario, with no vaccine, I believe it could be well into 2021 before we see any return to normality.
It is for those reasons that I remain convinced that the best way out of lockdown is to do it cautiously and early, carefully identifying what we can and can’t do and communicating appropriately. That way, we will be able to build up provision slowly and carefully.