20th March 2020

On the 16th, the penny finally dropped with the Govt. Boris Johnson gave a press conference looking grey. We later learned he’d been told quite bluntly that their current strategy would result in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths in the UK, and the revised strategy of “slowing the spread” would still result in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

These numbers are unimaginable and its easy to understand how an arts grad with no scientific background might consider them implausible. But the maths is simple. Even Cummings admitted 80% of us could get it and with a death rate of 1% – well 1% of 80% of 65 million is 520,000.

The financial impact was also becoming clear. As govt advice changed from recommending to strongly advising, sports, gigs, concerts and plays were being cancelled leaving tens of thousands without income. Then shops and bars began to wind down throwing more jobs into jeopardy. The govt at last began to react, coming up with measures to help people and companies survive.

This week too, the UK Govt closed all schools effective from Friday, and cancelled A and GCSE exams. Poor David, having worked so hard, now had the uncertainty of not knowing if his university place was safe or not.

Then on the 16th the Govt also advised “vulnerable people” they should stay at home for thee months. It was unclear who was vulnerable though and with panic buying now rife in the shops, things were getting crazy. People were reporting going to the supermarket at 8.30am to find the shelves already empty. Many shops were introducing rationing. Or price-gouging desperate buyers.

Mary was still ill too, now with a barking cough but no fever. I was sure, in retrospect, that she’d had it but we had no way to know.

Social Distancing was now the buzzword. One step up from Self-Isolation. Keep 2 metres away from everyone, don’t go out in public etc.

On Friday 20th the Govt announced that all pubs, clubs, gyms etc must close that night. There was a crazy last pint hurrah, probably tens of thousands of idiots infecting themselves and all around them. Such stupidity.

On the plus side David had clarity: exam results would be estimated by teachers based on mocks and teacher analysis. So he should be ok. Though his summer hol plans are wrecked – he’d planned to go to the US then Germany and Italy with his girlfriend. Cat’s plans were also in ruins as she’d planned to work in Oxford over the summer.

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