Can Government put social freedom back in the bottle?

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday – with some exemptions – amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

A new legal limit will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, No 10 said.

But it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply with police, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200.

In the last four or five days there has been a significant rise in the number of coronavirus cases. It’s not a gradual gentle drift upwards, but a sharp and obvious spike. The rate of positive tests is going up particularly among the 17-21s, but noticeable too among people in their 40s.

And rather than appearing to be only a problem in particular areas, the increase is relatively consistent across the country – 79 local authorities in England, for example, reported weekly case rates above 20 per 100,000.

Those factors mean there is deep concern in Number 10 that the statistics could be flagging the beginning of a generalised second wave of the pandemic.

It’s important to say, the death rate is still very low. This could be the beginnings of a surge that has very different outcomes to the last terrible toll.

But this is the Government’s difficult second album. The sounds remain the same but will people be listening as intently. With a taste for freedom in a time of Covid – will compliance be accepted?

What will this mean for us?

Firstly, let’s remember that “us” means all of us. The greatest strain of the first wave was on the NHS and carers. While this wave appears to be about the young and socially mobile middle-aged, there is every possibility that the more vulnerable elderly people will be infected with more serious consequences to long term health. Putting such stress on the NHS and care homes is not something that we as society should tolerate and that means giving up a good deal of our new found freedom.

For me it means cancelling events on Lady Lucy for the rest of the summer and the prospect of returning to more solitary forms of exercise than I have recently enjoyed/

Most of us will need to make such adjustments to our lifestyles. Those who won’t are likely to be those who are shielding – we should bear that in mind.

What I hope is that this does not trigger either a maudlin return to individual lockdown with the dangers of torpor, lethargy and obesity of a sedentary lifestyle. Worse, the danger of the early autumn spike returning us to April levels as mass disobedience takes hold.

For all the impact on our workplaces, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, we must think first of our hospitals and care homes. We must find ways to take care of ourselves and not allow our health to furlough.

The right action?

I am shocked by this news. I really didn’t see the spike coming and I had – I must admit- settled into a new routine of mask-wearing where I was returning to a new normal.

My complacency has been challenged and not for the first time this year, I am frightened.

Our church reopened last Sunday and I don’t suspect we will go back this Sunday. But I will be praying for our congregation , for t Hackney, Bermondsey and especially the most vulnerable of our neighbors, the elderly , the BAME community and those who already suffer health conditions.

There will be many, especially those who have antibodies and know it, who will consider this doesn’t apply to them. It does.

This is about our  behavior but it is about other’s lives. It’s critical that for a second time, we put the workers in the NHS and Care Homes first. It is going to take a colossal effort to get the genie of personal freedom back in the bottle.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Can Government put social freedom back in the bottle?

  1. Peter Tompkins says:

    I’m not sure this is really much of a change but it might be a change in sentiment.

    Guidelines actually already limit most outdoor gatherings to six people, but until now the police have had no powers to stop them unless they exceeded 30.

    The only real new limit is that indoor gatherings of between 6 and 30 were until now allowed in the case of two social bubbles – in other words two enormous families were allowed together but aren’t now.

    Let us just hope it makes it possible for police to break up raves when they have 7 people rather than struggling at 31+

  2. Robert says:

    “I am shocked by this news. I really didn’t see the spike coming and I had – I must admit- settled into a new routine of mask-wearing where I was returning to a new normal.”

    I have to say that I am not shocked by this news at all!

    There has been way too much complacency on the issue by many of the general public and perhaps the government shouldn’t have eased restrictions so soon.

  3. John Hutton-Attenborough says:

    Until a cure is found what has fundamentally changed since March. For 16 weeks we sat in our boxes. Then the lid came off and quelle surprise back to March again. No surprise to me at all.

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