So in the words of the soft rock band Whitesnake ‘here we go again’. Yesterday, Greater Manchester and Lancashire were put into restrictions, or possibly the areas were just given guidance. The increased spread of the Delta variant has sparked concern and with everyone having one eye on the 21 June ‘freedom day’ the time came to put the spotlight on the area where I live.
People have talked of the Corona rollercoaster, or Coronacoaster, and it has certainly felt like that for people in Greater Manchester. After the struggle last year over the terms of a local lockdown there now is a level of defiance building around the suggested guidance put in place yesterday. You can see this defiance in the comments on local media web stories, and in the conversations that are taking place in the streets.
I was on my way home last night when I spoke to a neighbour out doing some gardening in the cool of the evening. The guidance was always going to be something that came under scrutiny and I find these conversations essential to seeing the impact of communication. Phrases like ‘we have had enough’, ‘what are we supposed to do now’ and ‘we are just going to have to live with this aren’t we’ were all spoken. During the past 15 months it feels there have been only a few weeks when restrictions were not in place in the area.
What the neighbours I have spoken to wanted was more clarity and information from their local leaders, local authorities and public services in the area. There is concern or at the worst mistrust of announcements that are played out in Parliament, which for many is a world away from their daily lives.
Surge testing is coming, although nobody knows when or where. The army are being drafted in and may be spotted on the streets where I live. People are being told to meet outside, not too bad with the sunny weather but dark clouds are literally and metaphorically gathering, and to avoid travelling into and out of the area. This latter point is not as easy to achieve as it sounds with many people coming into the area or going out of the area for work. There are no real borders between Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside.
What is important in all this is that people have a clarity about what the situation is and what they are expected to do about it. But with continued Government announcements and local messaging struggling to catch up patience is wearing thin. The next couple of weeks look set to be challenging.