In the words of the Aretha Franklin song “Here We Go Again”. Covid seems like one of those film villains tha,t despite shooting, stabbing, suffocating and drowning, remains alive to cause mayhem. We can, however, take heart that vaccines are now being licensed and rolled out across the country to beat this villain. This is the first real fight back that we have been able to make against this serial killer virus. While the decision of who is in the front of the queue for the vaccines is ultimately a decision for the national medical committees I do hope that they will listen to the very strong call being made for teachers, school staff, police and emergency services to be vaccinated speedily. Those who put themselves ‘on the front line’ deserve the comfort and reassurance that the vaccine represents. I would also add delivery drivers, shop workers and posties.
I know from my inbox that people are getting bored and fed up. Post Christmas blues, poor weather and the bills of Christmas (that ultimately wasn’t a Christmas) coupled to a third Lockdown do not make for the ingredients of a delicious cocktail. I want to share with you my biggest fear for Dorset: complacency.
Throughout the Covid turmoil of 2020 Dorset as a whole fared well. The South West had the lowest R rate in the country and Dorset was among the lowest of the low. Our communities rallied to provide support. Our local NHS services stayed standing. Communities adhered religiously to the rules. 2021 has changed the local picture. The South West’s R rate (at the time of writing) is the highest in the Country. Infection rates across the County are on an upward trend. Our local NHS is nearing capacity. Ambulance crews are at full tilt. As a result of delays in hospital admissions there is a shortage of small tanks of oxygen. The valiant men and women who provide our healthcare are not themselves immune to catching the virus and I shudder to think of the scenario where too great a number of NHS staff have themselves become covid patients. Bed capacity has had to be significantly reduced in order to accommodate social distancing. 1-2-1 intensive care is now being delivered at 1-2-3.
So, Lockdown 3 is real because it is needed. The rules are the rules and laws. They are not guidance. They are not a pick and mix a la carte. They are not for others to follow but that you have a special exemption. They are for all of us to follow. Not because the State has delusions of power madness or because we take a perverse thrill in stifling liberty: it is simply because none of us went into public life to see constituents avoidably fall ill and possibly die. Of course Lockdown is a damned nuisance. But it is a necessary and vital damned nuisance. Our local Police have my full support in being as robust as necessary to enforce the law.
I shall share with you with this thought sent to me from a constituent. You have to imagine a new headstone in a graveyard. The inscription reads: “Here lies xxxxx aged 49. He need not have died but he thought he was immune and exempt from the Law. He refused to wear a mask. He went out unnecessarily. He had friends and family to visit (some of them are in hospital or awaiting burial). He leaves a wife and two children. Arrogant and selfish to the end”. I do not want that to be the epitaph of any resident of North Dorset. I implore you to follow the Rules and do what is right.
I started with Aretha Franklin let me close with the metaphysical poet John Donne: “No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main……… Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” Let’s follow the Rules to the letter: the bell won’t be tolling for thee.