Tuesday 23 February 2021 6:00 am

Boris Johnson's lockdown roadmap needs short-term hope and yes, takeaway pints

In two weeks, we will be legally allowed to sit on a park bench with a friend and have a coffee.

In five weeks, two whole households will be given the go-ahead to see one another outdoors.

Boris Johnson’s plan to exit lockdown seems completely oblivious to what is happening outside his front door.

It misses the public mood completely and offers almost no consolation to people who have been trying to do the right thing, as best they can, while staying sane.

The mental health crisis brewing for people hunched over kitchen tables in tiny flats has been talked about, repeatedly, but with little recognition from ministers in the plans to ease lockdown.

What may have once been small anxious niggles can now feel overwhelming and hijack a whole day. And yet, yesterday’s announcement was devoid of any sort of peace offering to a group of people, mostly under the age of 40, who are least at risk of illness from coronavirus, have given up the most during lockdown, and are last in line for the vaccine.

They are also at risk of being shut out of venues if vaccine passports do materialise.

Many people are following the rules to the letter, and, I suspect, many are also taking small, considered risks. Like sitting on a park bench with a friend.

It wouldn’t have taken much to provide a slice of desperately-needed hope. Take-away pints, for instance. It doesn’t even have to be in a beer garden. Remember those days in Spring last year, when you could get a drink, and perch on a bench, wall or step nearby with a friend?

Yes, maybe some people took the mickey. But mostly, it gave young people especially a small taste of normality and spurred them on to wait until they could go to the actual pub.

The inability to acknowledge many people are already seeing one another outdoors is not just immeasurably bad for people’s morale, it makes it look like No10 has no idea what is going on, or how much we have all given up.

Perhaps they were too distracted by who Dilyn the dog was or wasn’t humping and which aide is or is not briefing against Michael Gove.

The next few months, until our lives begin to return to normal, will be an uphill battle for people across the country, who are frankly fed-up of lockdown, but going along with the rules all the same.

We have been under restrictions for almost a year. Even last summer, there was a cloud of worry hanging over us about when or if the next lockdown would be. My first bout of self-isolation started on March 9 and as my anniversary with Covid draws nearer, I feel bleaker and bleaker about my weekend walk.

Many, I think, feel the same.

The roadmap does offer long-term hope and there is an understanding from most that this will take longer than we would like. But the PM must take the opportunity to give a little back to everyone who has given up unfathomable swathes of their lives for the protection of others.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Share: