My daughter’s lesson from Australia on pain of local lockdowns: Christa Ackroyd

At last the news millions have been waiting for. From next week we can now meet our loved ones and friends outside. Those much longed-for hugs will have to wait a little longer but it does feel like a massive leap forward.

A lone surfer walks along the boardwalk at Newcastle Beach on April 8, 2020 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

However, as I write there are still many questions that remain unanswered and too many journalists still asking will we even follow the new rules in light of the Cummings effect. And the answer is of course the vast majority will.

We all have our opinions about the Cummings and goings of the last week. But it is now a subject which is confusing the message – a message that could be a matter of life or death.

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So whether Dominic Cummings should have done what he did is now not the most pressing matter we have to consider. It’s a distraction. We can express our views at the ballot box in future. It can be brought up at an inquiry when all this is over. But let’s give it a rest, as my mum would say, when I was wittering on and on about something.

Donna Eddy helps her son Phoenix with school work at their home on April 9, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. PIcture: Getty

Durham Police have investigated 
and said he may have been guilty of a minor breach by driving to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight, which has always seemed to me to be a pretty stupid decision. You don’t drive if you think you can’t see. But there are 
more important things to contemplate now.

We all need to know what our world is going to look like over the coming weeks. Because far from being a return to normality, this next phase is the most complicated. We need a finely balanced new way of living if we are to avoid a second wave of this dreadful virus, and if we are to see some sort of economy surviving.

And I, for one, need the new normal explained calmly and in detail without the interruptions of the same repetitive questions over a Government adviser who, if he had just said, ‘‘sorry, I panicked’’, we might have been able to move on much sooner. But move on we must.

I have already had a glimpse of what the new normal might look like and I know one thing, it won’t be easy. Let us be clear this is not the end of lockdown. It is the start of selective lockdown and I want to know how it will work. I want to know what is expected of us in the next few weeks. I won’t be queuing up for an hour for a fast food takeaway, or making a dash for a department store browse. I find it stressful enough going into a supermarket as it is.

I will feel safer with track and trace. I will download the app without a thought for civil liberties, or fear that ‘Big Brother’ is watching, because knowing who I have come into contact with will make it easier to relax a little. Though I must admit I would always prefer a friendly voice on the other end of the phone than a text to my mobile telling me I have to isolate.

We all need social interaction. But I am willing to stay at home for 14 days time and again if necessary, if it means a return to some sort of normality.

I do want my hair cutting, but safely. I do want to support businesses which have supported me and I would love a holiday – even just a night away. But I will be advised about as and when I can do all these things, and feel comforted that if something goes wrong someone will be in contact to tell me what to do, in order to protect me and my loved ones.

It has to work and I believe it can. In Australia, my daughter is a teacher 
who went back to work for a week 
with track and trace in place. Within seven days, she was sent home to isolate. Not because she has the virus but because one of her pupils tested positive. That afternoon she was 
called by a public health worker who told her she must isolate from her family in a room of her own for 14 days even though her test was negative. Which, to be honest, is actually tougher than the full lockdown she has experienced these last couple of months.

Her eight-year-old daughter can’t understand why mummy is staying in her bedroom. Though after a week she is getting used to it. Her partner is now working from home, looking after their daughter and her, and every time she leaves her room she is advised to not linger and to wear a mask. Oh, and her daughter can keep going to school unless mummy tests positive. She will be tracked and traced and the process will begin again. Still with me? Probably not.

It may not even be the same system here, but with only just over 1,000 cases in the whole of Australia and just over a hundred deaths, if such stringent measures are in place there, including closing and deep cleaning the school for two days, it’s even more important we understand the implications here with our huge numbers of fatalities and positive tests. So let’s get things up and running. There will always be some glitches when 50,000 newly trained workers try to log on at the same time. Let us first get used to personal contact rather than technology. That will come.

First and foremost, let us embrace it as one step nearer to life as we knew it. A blanket lockdown was far simpler to manage but it was always unsustainable.

Our lives are changing again and change is never easy. But things move on. On Thursday I, like you, took part in my last clap for carers. I found it as emotional as ever but agree that although we will never forget the work of the NHS and others on the frontline, the battleground will soon move into our workplaces, our shops and businesses as they make preparations to reopen in the coming weeks.

Now it is down to all of us to step up to the mark. I think the vast majority will. So stay positive. We can do this together. We’re getting there.