There has been some criticism of the State Government’s decision to impose a weekend lockdown in four cities of Uttarakhand. The critics include politicians of the opposition and sundry self-appointed COVID-19 experts. It seems having read a substantial number of posts and forwards on social media entitles one to question those tasked with actually combating the virus. The argument of many is that lockdowns haven’t killed the virus, till now, how will they do so in the future. Some lament the impact they have on the livelihood of poor people. Others ask what use two days of lockdown would have when the other five days allow freedom of movement.
The government’s logic is similarly layered. Apart from the fact that the number of positive cases has increased and consequently the pace of transmission has to be slowed down to keep it manageable, it has been noted that during the ‘unlock’ period, too many people have begun to behave as though the danger is over. The number of fatalities is also inexorably going up. This problem has to be, therefore, tackled not just on the practical level, but also the psychological one. People need to be convinced that they would have to face the ‘hardship’ of lockdown, if they do not behave responsibly.
It must also be understood that the ‘frontline warriors’, who are working day and night in so many ways to halt the spread of the virus, need a break from the interminable grind. Too much of their energies are being used to maintain order and enforce physical discipline. It has been noticed that in the worst affected countries like the US, the health and sanitation staff, as well as the law and order forces are facing burn out. Signs of this are beginning to be seen in India, too. At many places, doctors and nurses are just quitting the fight because it has become too much for them. It becomes all the more necessary, therefore, for ordinary people to be as little a burden on them as possible by doing just the little bit expected of them. If they, basically, impose a lockdown on themselves, they would help save their own lives and those of others. There would then be no need for the government to do so. People need to work out how they can return to ‘normal’ activities by accepting these constraints; otherwise the next steps needed to revive economic activity will not become possible. That would hurt everybody more than just the psychological misery of an enforced closure by government.