Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Friday, May 29, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise it’s Friday 29th May and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

I talked yesterday about the problem with top down rules. The very people you need to follow them will probably ignore them. I suggested that it was better to treat people like adults, explaining the principles of what needs to be done, whilst appealing to their own self interest and sense of civic duty. This is what New Zealand and Sweden have done, and they have done really well.

I was therefore absolutely delighted to see the launch of the Government’s new Track and Trace system yesterday. Matt Hancock, explained that it was in everyone’s interest for this to be a success and that it was our civic duty to report infections, to divulge contacts and to self isolate for 14 days if required to.

It was music to my ears and the first time that I have agreed with Government Policy for a long time. The messages were excellent. This was followed up by some excellent messages from the Prime Minister in a completely different tone from that I have seen before.

Actually, I can detect the input of the Behavioural Insights Team here. This specialised team was previously called the Government Nudge Unit. It was part of the cabinet office but is now a social purpose company, partly owned by the Government.

In my professional field, they have long been regarded as world leaders in creating approaches which “nudge” populations to behave properly. Through carefully worded and targeted messages, they persuade people to do the right thing. For example one of their classics was “Most people take their litter home with them to avoid the bins overflowing in this lovely park”. This was subtle but clever, and it worked.

From the beginning of this pandemic, they have been conducting research into how real people are reacting to the virus, and how their behaviours are changing.

Their approach to Covid-19 behaviours is now truly world leading. I have been following them and have previously despaired that no one appeared to be listening. Finally, they seem to have broken through the wall of SPADs and I hope that they continue to be listened to. They know what they are talking about.

The new track and trace system is potentially excellent and could reduce infection rates by up to 15% in any one day. It had teething problems yesterday but it is exactly what we need now. I wish it had been implemented 12 weeks ago, but at least now, the right people are involved. There is indeed hope.

The relaxation of the rules yesterday was not earth shattering. But I am not surprised as the Government has backed itself into a corner. The best we could have expected was that the new rules would normalise what everyone is doing already. The good news is though that Middle England are no longer breaking the law!

I was secretly hoping I could spend the weekend at Helen’s as we used to before the lock down. But it looks like we’ll have to wait another 3 weeks for that.

I spoke yesterday about starting to make our businesses and venues Covid-19 Secure in the Village. And I said that this should start on Thursday. I meant what I said and am very pleased to say that progress was made yesterday on all three of our Village Venues.

Naomi has now received some guidance from the brewery on what she needs to do to make the pub Covid-19 secure. She needs to create some properly covered, but well ventilated outside space. So she contacted the Parish Council asking to borrow the Council’s events marquee.

In the Council’s Neighbourhood Plan, the long term support of the pub is a core part of the strategy for maintaining a vibrant and healthy Village. As a result, the Council was able to consult, meet virtually and make a decision within a couple of hours. Naomi can now have the marquee on loan until the end of the emergency. Cllr Carol Parsons will be our contact point with Naomi. The Council will be working with her to help where possible, ensuring that we have a safe venue available when the Government presses the button. This is great news.

The Parish Council currently has exclusive use of the Village Hall as a Command and Reception Centre during the emergency. At the next Parish Council meeting, I expect them to stand the Hall down, releasing it back for general use when required. Rachael and I are therefore working on making it Covid-19 secure in preparation for this release. We have purchased touch free hand sanitiser stations. We are replacing our washroom bins by foot pedal operated ones. We are zoning off the Hall and corridors to maintain social distances. Once all this is done, we will be able to assess the capacity of the Hall. We can then talk to all the regular hirers and can assess their plans for safe resumption of their classes and meetings.

The Church is also working on its plans for re-opening. Now for my sins I was appointed as the Health and Safety Officer for the Church in January, slightly bizarre for committed heathen. Michelle, I have no idea what those sins were, but I hope I enjoyed them!

The Church poses particular challenges. It is a 13th Century, grade II * building. In the days of Roger Davidson, we could have ripped out pews to create social distancing. But I fear this may not be possible today.

We are looking at all aspects of Sunday worship, from entering the Church to having a cup of tea after the service. All of these activities must be Covid-19 secure. Many of the congregation might be classed as vulnerable. And the last thing the Church wants is to put them at risk.

None of us can guarantee that our actions are completely safe. That is impossible. However, I am satisfied that behind the scenes everyone is working hard to ensure that every venue in this Village is as safe as can possibly be, when the Government presses the open button.

I am so confident that when that point is reached, I will have the most surreal Sunday in my life. I will go to Church in the morning, I will have lunch at the pub and I will attend a celebration at the Village Hall to close our emergency forever.

Now that is progress indeed

Thank you