By Cerys Jones | Comment Editor
As social distancing requirements ease in nature, many express concerns that society is prematurely returning to normality, thus encouraging the emergence of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19.
Complete compliance with the government guidelines has fallen to less than 50%, causing the daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK to rise steadily.
A study conducted by The University College London revealed that restrictions such as physical distancing and staying at home had dropped within the last 2 weeks from an average of 70% of people to less than 60%.
The county of Caerphilly has become the first area in Wales to enforce a local lockdown following a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
The county which has a population of 181,000 people has had 132 citizens test positive for the virus in the last week, the highest statistic in Wales, and amongst the highest in the UK.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, stated that he had been forced to act due to the increase in cases consequent to the lack of social distancing performed in the county.
“We’re in this position largely because social distancing has broken down and in particular people are socialising in each other’s households in larger numbers.”
Mr. Gething stated that failing to address the problem now could result in “national consequences”, and appealed for people to abide by the local lockdown guidelines, “It’s for you, your family and the whole community”.
It’ll be interesting to see how many do abide by the rules, with Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr being other Welsh counties who are close to having local lockdowns enforced.
The younger population
The younger population has been subject to criticism regarding their general ignorance of social distancing requirements implemented by the government to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, stated:
“The UK could see a second spike in coronavirus cases if young people don’t follow social distancing rules”.
Speaking to Radio 1 Newsbeat, Mr. Hancock used France and Spain as countries of reference as the occurrence of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 was started largely amongst the youth of society in these countries.
The health secretary also expressed concern regarding students returning to university this month, as he stated that “affluent younger people” were the reason behind the sudden rise in infections. The government scientific advisors predict that “significant outbreaks” linked to universities are likely.
Mass gatherings are continuing to take place despite the implementation of government safety measures. Privately organised raves have replaced conventional nightlife, which cannot operate in a socially distanced manner.
Five men aged 19 to 25 were arrested at a rave located at Ogmore-by-Sea in the Vale of Glamorgan following a mass brawl which occurred on June 25.
Videos of the violent clash circulated on social media, and showed a large-scale crowd failing to adhere to social distancing requirements, showing complete disregard for the community’s safety. Many of those in the crowd were young people.
Anthony Williams, the Chief Inspector for the Vale of Glamorgan stated at the time:
“We appreciate the coronavirus lockdown measures have been difficult for our communities, but the kind of behaviour seen recently at Ogmore-by-Sea and other coastal areas is simply unacceptable”.
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, warned that “lockdown restrictions will not be eased if large parties at beaches continue in Wales”.
He also stated that the scenes “threaten the health of people in Wales and undermine the sacrifices the majority of people have made during this ongoing crisis”.
A newly enacted legislation released on Friday intends to help the police force tackle citizens straying from government safety measures.
Organisers of illegal mass gatherings including raves could receive a fine of £10,000. The legislation also states that failing to wear a mask and participating in unlawful gatherings could be fined £100 for their first offence, doubling for each repeat to a maximum of £3,200.
Though the youth population’s ignorance towards government safety measures is frustrating to the majority who abide by the rules, this must not undermine the efforts made by the masses.
It is important to hold others accountable for their unlawful actions, but vital too not to let a group of people cast a negative shadow on the positive progress made during this period of such uncertainty. Until now, Wales was the only nation in the UK with a falling R-rate, and things were looking up.
It is also vital not to deem the youth subsector fully responsible for the possible emergence of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, as other subsectors of society can transmit the virus also.