In the North West it is claimed that the R rating for Covid-19 is now above 1. There has been lots of discussion about what that might mean in terms of response. In reality we have seen the leaders of local authorities, police and the Mayor encourage people to enforce social distancing and be aware of the spread of the virus. The situation has brought home how difficult it will be to communicate the developments as we move forward living with Covid-19.
There are many people who are unaware of the current situation and of the appeals from those civic leaders. They were out and about on Saturday with no knowledge of the possible increase in the spread of the virus. So if we are to get to a position where local lockdowns may happen how will people be told?
We can’t rely on the media and social media to reach everyone. People pick and choose what they want to see in their social media timelines and it is unlikely to be a Covid-19 alert account. As we move away from the initial phase of the crisis people are not as interest in the daily briefings or updates. Getting them interested when it may mean being locked down again is not going to be easy.
In some respects the only way of ensuring everyone hears about it will be to have loud hailers touring the streets and announcing it in the way the utilities do if they are switching the water, gas or electricity off. But I have missed those announcements if I was in the back of the house so on their own they will not be enough.
What is required is a communication package that will be deployed as soon as people need to take action. It needs to cover a whole range of communication channels and have a clear message of what is required from people. And above all those in charge of deploying this communication need to work now to ensure people understand what will happen, how they will be told, and what they need to do.
It is not enough to hope that the communication is going to reach people because getting it right will save lives.