Don’t Panic: Ignore Clickbait Rumours and Misinformation In The Press

Over the weekend we saw lots of people on social media panicking after speculative stories about hospitality not reopening until July started appearing in the press.

With mental health an increasingly big issue as the lockdown continues, we thought we’d just put some perspective on the situation.

Since this pandemic started the rumours have been coming thick and fast, partly from an element of the media desperate to get the click rate up on their digital rags, and perhaps more worryingly, from the government itself. We have seen various ministers popping up on radio and TV shows spouting all sorts of nonsense, to what end seems a mystery.

The latest news about July reopening was a classic example of papers, led unsurprisingly by the Daily Mail, stirring up a shit show unnecessarily. The actual facts behind the headlines are a lot less scary.

It stems from the government extending the powers that local councils have (which was due to end this week) until mid-July. These powers include the ability to keep hospitality shut but it is a huge step to think that this is what they are going to do. In fact many local councils, most visually Andy Burnham in Manchester, have been keener to keep hospitality open than the government.

The Prime Moron refused to go on record to say that the lockdown wouldn’t stretch into the summer, which is pretty standard avoidance of firm decisions from Downing Street. In actual fact the scientists who advise the government said they wanted to delay the opening of hospitality until May to slow the spread, no mention from them of July at all.

This comes off the back of a government press conference on Friday that was widely expected to announce a plan to reopen the country that was changed at the last minute to talk about the supposed increase in death rate from the new strain of the virus. Less than 48 hours later Matt Cockcock was stating that there is ‘uncertainty’ about this claim. You may also hear new phrases spewing from government gobs such as ‘Halfway house’, these are just a new way of saying ‘tier system’ to make people think they are coming up with new plans.

The actual details that can be qualified by science and not just sound bites to panic are looking a lot more positive. Firstly, the much talked about R rate has dropped to below 1. Secondly, the vaccine programme is actually on target with over 400,000 vaccinations given on Thursday last week. Thirdly, new cases in the UK has been dropping steadily since the 9th January when the 7-day rolling average reached a high of 59,660, on the 24th January this average had dropped to 35,929.

Simply put no-one really knows exactly when things are going to reopen or what restrictions will be put in place when they do but to listen to and worry about every rumour and headline is not healthy. The government will continue to put a negative spin on things in the short term to ensure the general public doesn’t relax whilst the NHS is under such pressure.

Rest assured that there is a lot of lobbying going on behind closed doors from many business sectors including the powerful pub and brewery lobbyists to make sure we are open as soon as is realistically possible and with enough warning that we can do so safely.

For now if you really do have to listen to a rumour then there is one doing the rounds that Easter bank holiday is going to be reopening date. I wouldn’t trust it though.