Bristling Brock has read endless media reports on what the best strategy should be for the country to follow in combatting COVID-19 spread. There seems to be a much divided scientific opinion, an equally much divided international opinion and a much divided medical opinion. That's not entirely surprising given that the world is facing an unprecedented pandemic about which - in truth - we know very little. There are bound to be a diversity of authoritative views and stratagems for containing and defeating this virus.
The bottom line, however, as anyone in the business world will appreciate, is that 'someone, somewhere' has to make a decision on a course of action - a plan, and usually with a Plan B as insurance. Someone has to grasp the nettle and make a choice as to what to do. Given the wide diversity of technical opinion over COVID-19 response this makes that choice all the harder to actually make and then steadfastly implement. And it is to our governments that we look to review these choices and then make a decision; that is what we elect them to do, that is their constitutional role that is enshrined in law and precedent. It's an unenviable burden. What do we (as government) do to protect the citizens of the country whilst at the same time ensuring that we have the ability to rise up again once the crisis passes. It's truly a Devil and the Deep Blue Sea choice.
The British government is facing widespread criticism for its strategy of lock-down and its tardiness over testing preparations. Some of the criticism might well be deserved and relevant but we overlook the fact that a choice and a decision had to be made at the outset based upon what was thought to be the right and proper action, what was, at the time, scientifically the best option. No plan is foolproof and the best plans are flexible, adaptive and able to adopt stratagems using the very latest authoritative data. In this we might argue that some of the governmental criticism is justified, for their stratagem is rigid and conditioned to some extent by bureaucratic inertia and a lack of preparedness amongst the scientific and medical advisory community to give joined up and coherent advice to government. Nonetheless, we must have faith in the national advice for if we all start to revert to old ways - and there is some evidence to imagine that a growing number of people are giving up on some elements of social distancing and travel - then we will revert to an environment where there is no social control and an uncertain pathway to recovery. China could socially control its populations through its draconian measures, we are less inclined toward that level of invasiveness in our softer, more open societal structure which makes it all the more important to voluntarily maintain adherence to the restrictions and limits being put upon us here.
The governments ways are beginning to adapt to circumstance, knowledge and need. It's frustrating for all of us, but unless we maintain faith in our governance then we will slip into a semi-anarchic state of everyone doing their own thing, a sure slide toward national ruin. If we can maintain the guidance regime, accelerate the testing programme and get essential workers back to the coal-face then we will start to make progress. Once that testing is infinitely more widespread and individuals are proven to be risk free then we must get industry back up and running, pushing the economy on - for there is little merit in saving the population only to discover we are in such a ruinous economic state that the suffering merely transfers from a viral threat to a complete social and economic collapse from which it will be very difficult to recover.
With that scenario in mind, just consider the complexity of the decision making the government is battling with. We may chunner behind their backs, but let's give them the space to make choices and decisions that none of us would wish to be faced with.