Diary of a Lockdown, day 96: is it all over?

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Windrush Square: with a crowd of 20, mainly 2m apart, listening to Rashid Nix talk about the legacy of the sugar trade and its impact on black lives in Britain

Clearly we’ve all had enough – of no pubs and clubs, no summer holidays, no birthday parties, no fun. The pressure has been building and now the lid has blown off and we’re streaming to the seaside, to party in the street, to have barbecues with neighbours. You can’t blame us on these long, hot midsummer nights.

Our household has been gradually slackening its lockdown regime – and not strictly sticking to the rules. Our eldest teenager has had two or three friends round and not always sat in the garden; and he’s met up in the park to play football with friends more than once or twice.

Last Sunday I hung out with about 20 others by the statue of  Sir Henry Tate in Windrush Square, Brixton, to hear Rashid Nix talking about the legacy of the colonial sugar trade on black lives today.

We went to see our niece’s new home on Tuesday night and on Wednesday we went to the seaside with a friend, who was desperate to get out of London for the day; she sat in the back of our car and we kept the windows down; and we’ve had drinks in our neighbour’s garden once or twice, staying two metres apart – most of the time.

Our local supermarket is still managing to control the flow of customers so it’s easy to stay apart once inside; but the deli next door seems to make no attempt.

Both boys have been back to school for two half days each in the last fortnight. We’ve just booked a week’s holiday in Devon – and are hoping that the holiday park’s swimming pool will be open by then.

But the virus hasn’t gone away. In fact, the rate of new daily cases stopped falling this week for the first time in months. As more of us are mingling with more people more often, the opportunities for the virus to be transmitted are starting to rise again.

According to the Covid Symptom Study, there are currently over 2,300 new cases in the UK every day and its spokesman Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, writes: “With lockdown being eased over the last few weeks and more changes soon to come it’s interesting to see that we are now seeing a tail off in the decline. With Covid still very much in the population it’s really important the UK continues to be cautious when it comes heading back to normal life.”

I listened to Prof Neil Ferguson being interviewed by Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s Political Thinking yesterday. He is the epidemiologist at Imperial College whose warnings of the scale of the epidemic have been credited with contributing to the government’s introduction of lockdown in March.

He seemed to be saying that scientists are now better equipped to provide effective and timely advice than they were at the start of the year as the amount of data being collected is much greater. But they have never modelled the effects of an easing of a lockdown in so many different ways at the same time.

In other words, we are all part of a live, human experiment.

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