Even the word ‘unprecedented’ appears underwhelming at the end of a week that has seen growing trepidation about Covid-19 superseded by the sobering reality that society is effectively in shutdown.
As one much-respected local government chief executive observed, they do not believe that there has been a peacetime crisis like this, and so fast moving, since the war – hence the public sector’s response being upgraded to a ‘major incident’ so wide-ranging civil contingency powers can be used to co-ordinate services efficiently and effectively.
And while there will be despair at the prospect of social isolation measures having to stay in place for up to a year, these extraordinary times demand unprecedented unity in response.
It means heeding public health advice – Covid-19 is an invisible enemy – while making sure that Ministers fulfil their promises to all sections of society and make sure that financial aid packages do, in fact, reach those most in need.
On this there’s much to prove – Chancellor Rishi Sunak remains front and centre of the Government’s response while others, like the Work and Pensions Secretary, have had little to say to welfare claimants, the people with the very least before the outbreak took hold.
But this newspaper, for one, is greatly heartened by Yorkshire’s response which as, on the whole, brought out the best in people. And while physical isolation is a barrier for everyone from office staff working at home to grandchildren being unable to visit elderly relatives, it’s very different from social isolation. On this, we can all play a part looking out for others. And, if we do, we will be assisting all those working tirelessly to put the nation’s health before all else.