Pandemic diary 48: Boris speaks, we react

He still looks ill, doesn't he? This is a virus that has a long recovery period for those who have severe symptoms..

I thought I'd document for posterity some reactions from tonight's ministerial broadcast by the PM. In the past week, speculation around this announcement of the lockdown easing seemed to be accompanied by a noticeable increase in traffic, and people out and about, or flouting the guidance – for example, some of the 'distanced' street parties for VE Day where people nicknamed 'Covidiots' did things like dance the conga.

As a result, a lot of people are pissed off that all this lockdown will be for nowt because so many people can't follow simple rules like 'Stay at home' and keep 2m away from others and don't meet people from other households.

Perhaps the context for the new guidance needs to be prefaced with the numbers, which I haven't posted in a while due to news avoidance.

Stats update (10 May 2020)

  • 31,855 coronavirus deaths in the UK
  • 282,000 global death toll
  • 219,000 cases in the UK, 4 million cases worldwide
  • Germany's R number is now above 1 after easing lockdown five days ago
  • UK R rate is currently just under 1 (according to the PM tonight).

What the PM said

The news leaked yesterday but essentially the message has changed from Stay At Home to Stay Alert.

He announced a conditional plan for the UK to come gradually out of lockdown IF the numbers/science support that, possibly with some pupils going back to school in June and some shops re-opening.

From tomorrow, those who can't work from home in their jobs can go to work if they avoid public transport – construction workers, for example.

If the second spike starts to happen and the rate of C-19 reproduction (R) rises above 1 – meaning one person with the virus passes it on to more than one other person – then presumably it's back to lockdown.

It sort of makes sense but it's also vague as this was just the top line with clarity on the details due to follow. Here's a graphic on the new guidance.

My opinion FWIW

Essentially nothing has changed. This invisible deadly virus is out there and highly contagious. The risks just went up in my opinion because Covidiots won't get it and there is a good chance a lot of normal people won't get it either. To me, staying alert isn't a strong enough message and raises too many questions.

Looking ahead, there were second and third much larger waves of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people around the world. Think of it as a W-shaped infection graph, ie, three spikes. So my understanding of easing restrictions is that this is allowing more people to get it but in a controlled way the NHS can cope with (let's hope!), so instead of a big capital W we get more of a lower case zigzag.

Or as a friend said, it's a bit like jury service – we will all get the summons one day but you don't know when or how big a case it will be.

How my friends on Facebook reacted

Yeah, that was very Think Once, Think Twice, Think Bike.

So, following Boris’ announcement, does it mean we still can’t visit family in other households?

Well, that was as clear as mud. How unclear and embarrassing. Perhaps they should ban the phrase ‘if possible’ for the next announcement… Let’s just stay at home, yeah? 🆒

I wouldn’t mind, but the gov’t’s graph is actually wrong.

I don’t think the country has united behind a government in the way we have since the war, but patience is wearing very thin. To go on TV and tell be people they have less than 12 hours to prepare to go back to work, to avoid public transport, and then that guidance for employers will not be available until after Monday is reprehensible. I really hope I am wrong and the government plan works, but I fear we will see a rise in infections, and sadly deaths as a result of the vague message and chaotic delivery of the government plan.

Has he got a real background behind him or is it a Zoom background image?

So as far as I can tell we’re on Hot Peri-peri, but we want to be Lemon and Herb?

Not one single mention of Spoons opening >:/

Do not work unless you are protected. Join a union. Stand together with colleagues. Protect yourself, your families and your community. The government won’t do it for you.

"What we need is one of those proper fuck-off public information films from the 70s, that made children terrified of everything from trains to light switches." #staySomethingOrOther (via Twitter Wag)

Join a union! Never more important than now. Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act gives you the right to walk away from unsafe work. I am self employed and a member of Unite.

Yeah, we’ll just fecking stay alert shall we? Like we’re just all playing a giant deadly game of virus ‘Where’s Wally’. Bellend.

Before you get too excited about being able to drive to the Peaks for a walk, just remember nothing is open so your range for any activity is still the weakest bladder and bowels in your house.

A confused message, I thought. Lots left to individual’s interpretation, and no clear plan. He showed a ‘phase’ plan, which was clear and a ‘step’ plan which wasn’t. I’m sure he said that you must go to work on Monday, which is clear but then said ‘if you can’. Also the R number was between 0.5 and 0.9, again not clear.

So it’s fine. There’ll be a 50 page explanatory booklet on how to stay alive. Later.

Stay Alert?! The most meaningless pile of codswallop ever – it's an invisible virus, not a mugger down a dark alley. In the words of an ICU doctor: "Just watched the conga lines/street parties on the news. The nation has lost its fucking mind."

And a sum-up image of a face palm:

And a selection from strangers on Twitter

So if I make my mum my boss can I see her?

Thinking I should employ my grandchildren.

Working class people should go to work while middle class people work from home so upper class people can start making profits again.

Correctly the Prime Minister has prioritised our health, setting out a conditional road map based firmly on data. I am encouraged to see us begin small cautious steps on our way forward. Looking forward to more details tomorrow. [Andy Street, Conservative West Midlands Mayor]

I think it's safe to say that Johnson's "near death experience" has had fuck all effect on him.

What we just saw was a PR exercise, not leadership.

My six year old understands the situation better than @BorisJohnson. “How can we go back to school when the bug is still around? We sit close together all day! Especially on the carpet. And we play together. And eat lunch together. We share sinks! It doesn’t make any sense!”


Today I am thankful for friends who have stepped up to share some of their lockdown experiences on here and also give me a break from writing on busy days. I have never blogged daily for so long – nearly 50 days now. I'm aiming for 100 days but would like to post a range of other perspectives about all this [*gestures at everything] not just my own.

If you want to do a guest post, please do get in touch. I'll try to post one weekly.

Some people have asked me for more detail on what they should write. I told someone: just a flavour of your thoughts, opinions, life in lockdown. Personal or non-personal. Straight diary post or list of things or video or anything really. What’s changed for better/worse? What’s new for you? What’s it like where you are? I'd just like it to be some kind of reflection of where people are at with this.

Anyway back to Level Three And A Half on the new Covid alert system.

Also, RIP Little Richard.

Commission/hire me: fiona [at]

5 thoughts on “Pandemic diary 48: Boris speaks, we react”

  1. Thanks for this, Fi.

    I think one sentence that really struck me was:

    ‘ Working class people should go to work while middle class people work from home so upper class people can start making profits again.’

    Johnson insists he is not driven by economic pressure, but only by scientific and medical advice. However, this quote is a pretty fair summary of the effect of today’s announcement.

    I felt safe before. I feel less safe now. I feel the onus has been volleyed (back-handed?) back onto us to stay safe.

    Or, as you included: ‘ Protect yourself, your families and your community. The government won't do it for you.’

  2. Successfully muddled the message so that it's the public's fault that they didn't understand the message. The NHS is now better equipped to deal with the many casualties, so muddle the message and Perhaps herd immunity will still work, after all, it's mostly elderly, non workforce pensioners who will pay the price. Think what we'll save on pensions!

  3. did you see the matt lucas boris spoof. stay at home, but go to work etc ……….. v funny

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