Shropshire Star comment: Is it really too much to ask for people to follow the rules?
Nobody ever said social distancing was going to be easy.
For a nation famed for its love of the great outdoors, having to learn and adhere to a new set of rules about how we function in our daily lives has proved to be problematic.
The message has been clear for some time now.
Avoid all essential travel. Stay indoors.
By keeping your distance from others you are helping to save lives, particularly those of the elderly and vulnerable.
- LIVE coronavirus updates as Britain starts first full day in lockdown
- Shropshire coronavirus: Who is supporting your community and how you can help
Yet over the weekend, in unprecedented scenes, many attractions across the country were packed.
There was barely a parking space to be had around Snowdonia National Park, with visitor numbers far higher than they would usually be at this time of year.
Beaches were rammed, as were parks and other recreation areas.
For thousands of people across the country, young and old, the message was clearly not getting through.
If we’re being kind, we can say that the people who indulged in such behaviour were perhaps looking for one last day in the sun before what is likely to be a prolonged period behind closed doors.
However, it seems remarkable that none of them realised the consequences of their ill thought out behaviour.
Some blame “mixed messages” from the Government, arguing that Boris Johnson’s failure to announce a total lockdown meant they were unsure about what was allowed.
It is almost certainly the case that many of these people are precisely the same type who complain about too much state intervention, while others – such as those who packed the pubs out last week in a barbed show of defiance against the PM – simply don’t like being told what to do under any circumstances.
How anyone could not see for themselves the magnitude of the situation that the world finds itself in is almost beyond comprehension.
Turn on the television and look at what is happening in Italy, where the death toll has surged above the 6,000 mark.
Look at Spain, where the number of deaths has risen steeply in the past week and is now well above 2,000.
In the US, hospitals are already struggling to cope as health experts warn of dire times to come.
Then look closer to home, where NHS workers are battling to deal with with the spiralling number of cases.
Each day the situation becomes more and more acute, particularly in the Midlands, which has been declared a Covid-19 hotspot.
And now the Government has seen no option but to step in and enforce a complete lockdown with police given powers to force people back home, closing shops and dispersing gatherings of more than two people if need be.
Put simply, just by staying in and avoiding non-essential social activities, tens of thousands of lives could be saved in this county.
So each of us can – and should – do our bit to help in the midst of this pandemic which is sweeping the globe. If we stick to this plan, health workers will be able to focus their efforts on helping those who need it most.
At a time when as a country we all need to come together, is it really too much to ask for people to follow the rules?