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Comment: Covid - Lockdown or Mockdown?

A week since it was introduced, and the question is: Is this a 'real' lockdown?
Cathedral Square lockdown2
Does this feel like lockdown 2.0... or just a continuation of normal?

While in March, everyone seemed to accept closing down was the way forward, this time - whether driven by an urge for normality, desperation or innovation, or just simply not believing in the lockdown message any more - people seem less willing to partake.

And part of that is simply because there is so much confusion and muddiness about what can open and can't. 

I ventured out a couple of times in March and April, on Saturdays and Sundays, and the streets were desolate. Not this time.

Last week we decided to pop out and take a few photographs of Lockdown 2.0 as it's been dubbed (what will 2.1  and 2.2 bring I wonder?). I started at Boongate and the Range was open, which made me chuckle and think back to the mass queues from a few days before - clearly most people had thought it was shutting up for the month. 

But no, the doors were still open, much to the surprise of me and several other people who were having their car repaired nearby and had decided to go on a walk - clearly not expecting it to be serving.

This morning the BBC reported that larger stores have been accused of exploiting 'lockdown loopholes' to stay open, but The Range said it was following government guidance - a spokesperson said:  "The Range is classed as an essential retailer and is complying with all aspects of government legislation and guidelines."

They're by no means the only ones. Perhaps of most relevance is a tweet by Richard Shorney founder of the #Shoplocal campaign in 2011, listing the many different large companies that are staying open that might be dubiously viewed as 'essential', albeit sometimes for click and collect.

 

Meanwhile, SMEs do not all have the option of offering takeaway, or click and collect. Some don't even have websites, because they haven't needed them.

And elsewhere Peterborough Matters has received multiple emails, messages and other communications asking why some stores are open and some aren't.

One reader spoke to us about a particular part of the city where he sees a number of issues. Without wishing to target individual businesses, he mentions fishing tackle shops remaining open, and shops selling household goods, lunch boxes, plates, cooking pans, which have purchased crisps/noodles in order to circumvent the requirement to close. 

It's a sad situation when companies are looking for angles and tactics - I've seen it described as sneaky, or even underhanded.

Ultimately though who can blame any company or business, large or small, for trying to survive for the second time this year, especially as the end date of this lockdown is by no means set in stone? 

And because it all feels more 'normal', and many are just going about here business 'normally', or trying to, it doesn't really seem like any kind of lockdown. There was little panic buying this time. Schools are open. Sport is on TV, albeit without crowds. Many people won't see much difference in their lives, other than mask wearing - and even then some seem to regard it as optional.

However for some businesses the financial fears, bad enough already for much of this year, will soon become reality. Some of those that shut their doors on March 23 never reopened, and others are desperately scrambling to stay afloat, including the many freelancers and just-formed companies that have received little or no financial assistance.

Here's another thing that struck me the other day. We've been looking at Covid graphs and data and charts on cases and ventilation and admissions since March now. We all have our thoughts on lockdowns and masks, social distancing and vaccines.

But have you seen one prediction or government briefing on projections for the economy for 2021 and beyond? There must be predictions for those as well, but there's been precious little comparable data. Even if you believe wholeheartedly in lockdowns, it would still be worth considering.

We can only hope that whatever happens our SMEs, indies and, yes, high street stores survive, and that we support them where we can.  

In my household we've been trying to shop local where possible, and for the first time in 20 years, on a whim, we've booked our Christmas Dinner at a pub this year. We just hope we're allowed to go.