As readers will be aware, new restrictions have been put in place to help address the spread of the virus. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality will have to close by 10pm, table service will be mandatory, and the number of people allowed at weddings has been halved.
I regret these new measures have to be imposed. No one wants to see liberties infringed. But doing nothing in the face of surging virus spread is not an option. This virus is no less virulent than it was in March, fewer than eight per cent of us have antibodies, and without action an unacceptable number can be expected to die this winter.
So this is a calibrated response, a squeeze on the brake pedal if you like, which allow us to keep schools open and save lives here in Cheltenham.
There are those who say that we should shield the vulnerable, and let the rest of society proceed more or less as normal. As someone who believes in a free, open, liberal community, I understand the superficial attraction of that argument. But as others have said, the problem is that one person’s mild cough is another person’s death knell. Asymptomatic people can unwittingly seed deadly infection as they go about their daily lives, shattering families in the process.
It’s also a reality that keeping vulnerable people in hermetically sealed bubbles doesn’t really work. To echo Stanley Baldwin in 1932 when talking about the growing threat of aerial bombardment: the virus will always get through. That has been the experience of Israel, which has now entered a second lockdown.
So we have to do this.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all for the sacrifices everyone is making in Cheltenham. In some ways, this is the hardest bit – after so long, it’s the time we yearn most for normality and bridle hardest against restrictions. But this will be over. That day will come sooner if we hold the line.