I know that what I’m about to say will go against the grain in terms of where the pressure on you is coming from. I understand as well that your decision to move to another national lockdown will have been taken reluctantly.
However, I am writing even at this late stage to ask you to re-consider your decision. I often have found in life that we leap to implement solutions before asking the important problem solving questions. This means that we often fail to solve the problem and instead create others.
Therefore, it is helpful to start by acknowledging the consensus acceptance that CO VID-19 is a deadly, fast spreading virus. Once again, we are seeking case numbers risk with the ensuing risk of our hospitals being overwhelmed and us seeing more untimely deaths. Therefore, SAGE are correct in insisting that Non Pharmaceutical Intervention is needed.
At the same time, there are a number of observations and questions that still need responding to. First of all, given that a significant proportion of deaths happened in care homes during the first wave, have the lessons been learnt from this so that we can protect our elderly and most vulnerable?
Secondly, we have been informed repeatedly that hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing, contact tracing and self-isolation are needed and useful in slowing the spread of the disease. Much of the population have complied with this. Churches have complied, as have many shops, businesses, cafes etc. Furthermore, many of us have responded to changes in guidance, even within the last two or three weeks. It is reasonable to ask whether or not those measures were in fact effective. If not, then it is important to understand why before moving to new measures.
This leads to the third point, if compliance with existing measures was effective, then this would suggest that the problem is with areas of non-compliance. This could be because some people have been unable or unwilling to comply with measures. If so, it is important to understand why. It is also the case that some of those measures have simply not been imposed on significant sections of society. For example, it is currently the case that whilst schools have introduced some measures, these fall well short of face masks, social distancing and full contact tracing. Indeed, this may explain why many teaching professionals are currently frustrated and anxious.
It would seem reasonable to me that the focus at this stage should be about raising the level of COVID safety compliance across the population rather than imposing even harsher burdens on many businesses, religious assemblies and community groups who have already taken much of the brunt of the pandemic and have invested heavily to enable strict compliance.
I would strongly encourage you to allow those organisations and businesses that can demonstrate compliance with the existing measures to remain open unless there is clear evidence that those measures themselves do not work.
Pastor, Bearwood Chapel