By Nigel Tate: Political Columnist

Much of the economy has been at a standstill since the implementation of lockdown in March. Industries such as tourism, entertainment and independent small businesses have indirectly faced the full force of COVID-19. This has opened the debate for whether the government should prioritise the nation’s health or wealth.

The most recent easing of lockdown is through the re-opening of bars and pubs in early July. Despite the government emphasising that everyone should stick to strict social distancing rules, people were socialising as if the nation was free from COVID-19 altogether. Many of the public photographed in the streets of London Soho shows large crowds, as they failed to follow the government guidelines. Thereby, do we blame the government’s strategy of easing lockdown, or the public trying to restore a sense of normality back into their lives?

The re-opening of pubs, however, has had a positive impact on some people’s lives. It has said to contribute to improving the mental health of society, as the return of the pubs represents something which most British people can connect to. Despite this, many still feel that it was too early to re-open pubs and bars, as people believe a second surge in COVID-19 cases is imminent.

The government realises that their attempts to revive the economy may lead to a rise in positive cases.

The government have therefore introduced a number of ways to limit any potential surge. They have discussed the implementation of localised lockdown to control the virus within certain hotspots, as seen in Leicester. Other ways include monitoring the so called “five tests” in order to reduce the level of contagion, with the aim of keeping the R-number below one. Ideally, these measures will reduce the possibility of a second wave, which would have devasting results to both the economy and public health.

This also leads to the question of what society should do to live “normally” whilst adapting our ways to avoid undermining the nation’s health. People can help by wearing face masks to stop the spread of the virus, using contactless payment, washing their hands regularly and going to local pubs. Just following these basic steps can really limit the virus’ spread, and hopefully achieve both the revival of the economy and the protection of the most vulnerable.

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