Viewpoint: Social distancing, the EU and a moment of kindness

Featuring discussion on coronavirus social distancing measures and the European Union. Originally featured in the Maidenhead Advertiser on Thursday, March 26.

Viewpoint: Social distancing, the EU and a moment of kindness

Sense and a good sense of humour

To keep a two-metre ‘social distance’ from other people is good Government advice in the present coronavirus situation.

In the open air it is easy but in shops and supermarkets it can be difficult.

Children are a particular problem.

Where possible, parents should shop alone. Children old enough to stray from their parent’s side should be controlled or left at home. Shopping should be as brief as possible and contact with others kept to a minimum, eg use contactless cards for payment.

An elderly lady at the Market Street bus stop was upset at the greed and selfishness of panic buying.

A British sense of humour helps, eg ‘no toilet rolls stored in this van overnight’ scrawled on the back of a dusty van, but also when walking home, a young mother in St Marks Road was helping her very young toddler to walk.

I smiled as I walked past and got a huge smile back – the future is not all bad.


Clarefield Drive


The system needs a better safety net

We are trying to reduce the number of people with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19 arriving at hospitals because there are insufficient doctors and nurses and beds (and equipment).

This is causing chaos economically and wrecking normal life.

We are putting GP surgeries under strain because there are insufficient GPs to examine us. Our care homes, looking after our elderly, are desperate for care workers – if they now get sick with COVID-19 who will step in? The Army?

Where is the spare capacity in any of these caring workforces?

For decades we the public have colluded with governments of many colours to ensure the enfeeblement of our public domain.

We have focused on saving costs, rationalising, cutting back and have lost sight of the value of public services.

The 2008 financial crisis punished the least able to cope, COVID-19 puts the same cadre of people at risk of pain and deprivation again.

It is us the public who have built a modern world like this by our choices.

We do not have to accept this – as Dylan Thomas's poem says ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’.

Perhaps when the dust has settled on COVID-19 we in Windsor & Maidenhead can all agree to have more teachers, more care workers, more nurses and more doctors employed (even if accountants say that is too many for 'usual' demands) now and into the future.

Let's have more beds available in hospitals all the time (these are not 'under-utilised assets') so we don't endlessly shuffle people around and in and out of care.

Let's make sure that people who choose such key service jobs looking after us all as their lifelong career choice are the well valued champions of the future that we the public celebrate and not a cost that that is endlessly squeezed.

Armies used to have significant reserves.

Why are we the public accepting that there are no reserves in doctors, nurses, teachers and health care workers?

We need to demand investment into continual spare capacity even if it means less money in our pockets.

Windsor & Maidenhead is one of the richest well-provisioned parts of the country – we can do it.



Thank you for the cake and the kindness

I would like to express my thanks to the kind lady who paid for our coffees and cakes in Costa in the High Street on Monday morning when I had only cash and they were only accepting cards and my friend's card would not work. In these difficult times it restores your faith in human kindness, as you would not accept the cash offered. Thank you.


East Road


Concerned about a Canada-style deal

Predictably some people have seized upon coronavirus to try to keep us under the thumb of the EU beyond the end of the year, one leading argument being that the pandemic will inevitably delay the conclusion of a special trade deal.

However according to the former UK ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, the ‘Canada-style’ deal proposed by Boris Johnson would be of so little value to the UK that in practice it would be almost the same thing as leaving without any deal.

And indeed there are half a dozen separate lines of argument that support that conclusion, with the preferred deal being worth maybe one percent of GDP compared to leaving on WTO terms, hardly enough to justify the bother of negotiations.

Where I disagree with Sir Ivan is his implicit assumption that we can trust the dire predictions for a no-deal scenario made by the Treasury under the direction of two successive pro-EU Chancellors – a 7.6 percent loss of GDP over 15 years.

Once again, the evidence from a variety of other sources shows this to have been a vast exaggeration of the economic impact of leaving the EU without a special trade deal, which would be marginal and quite possibly marginally positive.


Belmont Park Avenue


How leaving will really affect the NHS and us

We just needed our government to enforce options open to them, but they chose not to. The pledge to fund £350m a week to the NHS by the Vote Leave campaign has also been proven a lie.

We have now left, but there has been no such monumental increase in funding.

Nor are the numbers of new hospitals being built that we were led to believe.

According to Statista, before the Coronavirus crisis EU nation states ratios of intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants was: Germany 29.2, Italy 12.5, UK 6.6

Even with almost proportionately double the intensive care beds available in Italy doctors there are having to make horrendous decisions, and to prioritise care for people under 65.

We used to have the European Medicines Agency (EMA) here in the UK.

Because of Brexit this has now relocated to the Netherlands.

The EMA serves a market of over 500million people living in the EU, giving them much power in negotiations.

It should not surprise us then that the key global regions to be prioritised once a vaccination has been developed will be the US and the EU.

Now that we’ve left the EU we’ve been advised that the UK should expect to get the vaccine a couple of months afterwards.

How many of our loved ones will die before we catch up?

We should be working collaboratively with our friends and neighbours more so now than ever before, instead we are insulting them and acting like a petulant child, saying we don’t need or want any deal.

We will be scarred for decades to come by Brexit. We must dispel all the lies around Brexit, and fight for close ties with the EU.

KATHERINE BAKER on behalf of Maidenhead for EU

CAROLINE KUIPERS on behalf of Open Britain Berkshire

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