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Opinion: For All Our Sakes’, Keep Your Distance

Published on: 23 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 25 Mar, 2020

This is our enemy

By Martin Giles

We live in almost unreal times. Much of what we have taken for granted all our lives has drastically changed or vanished because of an enemy most of us can see only as grimly mounting statistics.

But the enemy is real. Even a trip to the shops or a country walk has to be carefully considered. Well, it should be.

Keen to maintain a basic level of exercise, as advised, my wife and I are trying to take at least one walk, of a couple of miles or so, each day.

We are lucky to have easy access to the River Wey and North Downs Way. It is good to see others out doing the same, but at a distance and here’s the rub, too many seem to be paying no heed to the advice on maintaining a two-metre gap.

Yesterday, a beautiful spring day (one could almost forget the little black spot on the sun), I could feel my frustration grow despite our careful attempts to use the other side of paths and tracks and adopt single file to minimise our profile while other groups of walkers clustered regardless.

I probably should have said something to the groups and families who maintained their carefree three- and four-abreast patterns but we’d come out for a pleasant walk, not an argument.

At one point, we met someone we knew and stood respectfully, three or four paces apart to share a brief conversation. We humans are social animals, fortified by contact. It was good and hopefully risk-free. But they too had noticed that others were not taking similar care.

Thankfully, most will survive infection by this wretched virus although nothing can be guaranteed. Sadly, another death has been announced by the Royal Surrey and we can expect more to follow. The infection is increasing, so too must our degree of responsibility.

We need to follow the evidence-based government and local council advice. We must smarten up, and pronto.

But how do we maintain this safe distance in the supermarkets? For many of us, arranging food deliveries is impossible; they are overwhelmed.

Those of us who have resisted any urge to bulk-buy might now feel a bit vulnerable. We seem forced to go to the shops where we know there must be an increased chance of infection.

On Saturday, I wore thin rubber gloves to shop in the High Street. I hoped by going early I would avoid others but quite a few had a similar idea. I tried to keep a two-metre gap but it was difficult and sometimes impossible.

Returning home, I wondered if I should try to decontaminate the shopping and if so how? A couple of people have now told me they leave new shopping aside for a couple of days hoping that any virus will die. But some items need to go in the fridge or freezer immediately.

Perhaps it is now time for wider delivery services to be organised by government or volunteers to augment those provided by supermarkets This could also help achieve a more even distribution.

As we progress through this pandemic we are all going to need to exercise patience and consideration. We are going to need to understand that a few of the personal freedoms we value need to be curtailed for the good of all.

We are going to need to find within us an increased sense of duty and neighbourliness that our forefathers displayed in times of increased danger.

Thankfully many, probably most, are already realising, whether they know it or not, the truth of John Donne’s well-known words: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

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Responses to Opinion: For All Our Sakes’, Keep Your Distance

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    March 23, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    The Prime Minister obviously felt the same way. We could all feel the lockdown coming. We were waiting for when not if.

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