Dear Nick Fletcher, local MP for my home region,
Many thanks for taking the time to read this email, I appreciate we have spoken frequently in 2020. To be clear, I have also published this as a blog on my own site.
The news of a third lockdown has shattered me. Yet, if that is what needs to be done, then I’m on board. I have family members shielding, and I have no desire for Covid to dominate 2021 as it did 2020.
I am however, as I was in lockdown 2.0, bewildered and confused once more.
To the understanding of essential.
I work in a CrossFit box, I have invited you down on many occasion and the same for Dan Jarvis, Barnsley MP and all of Rotherham’s council. We were told to be Covid safe after the first lockdown, and we did that. The government said to work out capacity at per square feet. We did this, it would have meant our building would have been able to hold 70 people. We looked at that and said no way; we reduced to a max capacity of 28.
We put in workout zones, we limited equipment, we clean everything, we wear masks, we stick to time limits, we even stepped away from coaching a class safely – although we could see no rhyme nor reason in this. We argued we were essential businesses because we support the NHS, we reduce obesity which is heavily linked with Covid, we do wonders with mental health. The government disagreed, and sadly classed garden centres as essential and fitness as none.
However, I repeat – if the gyms need to close to stop the virus spreading then I am reluctantly on board.
As long as it makes sense.
But it doesn’t.
Off-licenses are an essential business. Why is being able to buy a legalised drug essential?
Garden centres. Why are they essential?
Home Bargains, B&M, The Range, Poundland, Wickes, – my local shopping retail park is 60% open.
KFC, McDonalds – drive throughs – open – we are being asked not to travel, yet drive throughs of junk food are open and discounting their wares.
Do you see my frustration?
The small businesses are being crippled, the grants are not enough, in leisure we are paying full rents on buildings that have been predominantly closed, VAT is still at 20% and we are being slowly crushed to death whilst we watch the public grab a McDonalds on their way to shop for non essential goods at The Range, before calling for a bottle of wine at the off license on the way home.
I repeat – if we must lockdown, then damn well do it, but this isn’t one.
In lockdown 1.0, I recall queueing outside the supermarket, where is that?
If the government tells me that a large, brand name discount store that sells everything from clothing, to alarm clocks, to toys to canned goods is safe and essential. Then, yes I will argue that gyms should be open too – because we can enforce social distancing, manage numbers via a booking system, and control the spread of a virus in our building. In my gym, no one will pick up a piece of kit that wasn’t disinfected by its last user – in am essential store such as B&M – how many people handle the goods before it is bought and taken to a home?
The point of this email? I would like to understand essential?
Mental health is disintegrating.
My youngest child has sobbed every night with the news that once again she is at home away from friends; at 10, she is scared and confused and also questions this hypocrisy. She questioned….
Covid surely can’t be that bad if we can go buy toys at the shop, so why can’t I go to school in my bubble?
As a single parent who runs a limited company, I fell through the cracks for financial support.
Once again, I am home with 3 children, trying to work harder than ever before to have a company and business at the end of this, whilst also trying to feed the kids, help the kids learn, and get them outside in the Baltic cold for exercise. I cannot be furloughed to support my family, I have to do both, and after 24 hours I can tell you that my own mental health is cracking. I stress more than I laugh, and cry more than I smile. I feel like I am letting my family down, and not working hard enough for my clients.
Frankly, it is an insult to me as a mother, a business owner, and a tax payer that “essential” has such a wide net – and whilst such a volume of places remain open – how can a “lockdown” be successful. It is a slap in the face that leaving my home to visit an off-license in lockdown is permissible as an essential journey, but a trip to the gym is deemed a risk.
The schools are closed, but I can buy alcohol as an essential item. If I were a smoker I could travel for my cigarettes every day.
I appreciate you reading this, and welcome a response.