Look left, look right, look left again: COVID-19 means we must think safety first

As we all start emerging from lockdown, Westside BID’s general manager MIKE OLLEY explains why we should all be following social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.

In the UK during 2018, 1,671 people died in motor cars and traffic accidents, and 122,635 suffered injuries – some life-shortening, all life-changing.

In Birmingham alone that year more than 200 people died because of road accidents.

These are horrendous figures and yet typical yearly averages. And we could stop all this by simply banning the use of cars.

Think of all those lives saved, and all those life-changing injuries avoided. But, of course, it’s unthinkable to ban cars just because of the horrendous death and injury rates, isn’t it?

Now, contrast that with the current pandemic that COVID-19 is creating across the globe. There is no option to ban that, of course, but we can introduce rules and regulations to defeat the disease.

Politicians determine the rules of the road. They do so to keep death and injury rates to a minimum. We play our part by sticking to these rules and regulations. And when we don’t, that’s when we kill others.

It feels to me that the government is currently getting the rules and regulations more than right with COVID-19. So why do we have a new local lockdown in Leicester? And goodness knows how many more there will be to come in other localised areas.

For I can guarantee there will be more lockdowns, as I agree with the prediction of many experts that we are not even halfway into this horrible disease.

Put simply, people are going to die because of other people. Despite the government and all the other powers that be doing their best, people just won’t listen.

After all, they don’t listen to the sensible rules and regulations to do with the roads, leading to unnecessary road deaths each year, do they? They arrogantly think it’s okay to speed or beat the odd light.

Therefore, despite the government’s best efforts and those of pubs, restaurants and shops to create safe environments, more people will die and more lockdowns will occur.

Why? Because COVID-19 does not offer instant death or injury, and therefore people (you and I) think we can get away with it. And we’re wrong.

I attended a couple of Black Lives Matter rallies in Birmingham recently. They were undoubtedly great days out with a positive message, and I saw many lovely people in good spirits.

Yet many were ignoring social distancing. Why did they risk death or permanent lung damage? Why did they potentially take a newly acquired disease back home to spread among loved ones?

Meanwhile, I recently watched a gathering of 50 or more people at a close neighbours to celebrate a child’s birthday. This created the potential that someone at that party was infected. Perhaps the child whose day they were celebrating won’t reach another birthday.

These are harsh but sobering realities. And they remind us that we must all think and do as the government asks over COVID-19 rules.

Follow them and we have a chance. A good chance. Ignore them and you’re doing the equivalent of speeding up a motorway the wrong way.

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