It was the first sunny day of the spring, and a Sunday, so people went to the park, in spite of the government guidance which insisted on only leaving the house for work, food, medicine or exercise, and the Health Secretary’s holy trinity of exercise: run, walk, cycle; but how do you exercise when you’re six years old, or exercise your six year old? People without access to private gardens were being told what to do by people who clearly did.
The police were mobilised to break up family groups enjoying the weather and move on elderly folk sat on park benches taking a rest during their constitutional. Local authorities closed some parks and a more widespread ban was called for. The media swung behind the strategy, labelling the public thoughtless, careless, selfish virus-spreaders, ignoring for the moment a government short of PPE, ventilators and tests, and an administration that had turned a blind eye to its inability to cope with a pandemic since Exercise Cygnus.
Cygnus had been a 2016 government run simulation of a ‘flu epidemic which identified considerable unpreparedness in the provision of ventilators and the ability to process the deceased, according to Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer at the time. The results were, predictably, buried.
Elsewhere, Matt Hancock told The Andrew Marr Show that now was not the time to be discussing nurses’ pay, and the total deaths approached five thousand.