First the disbelief about the risks of the coronavirus coming to Britain and then the reaction of those who want to go to the pub like Boris Johnson’s father.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first strategy was to let the virus circulate until it had a “herd immunity ” as advised by Chris Whitty, the government’s epidemiologist and medical adviser and Sir Patrick Vallance, the scientific advisor.
FROM HERD IMMUNITY TO BORIS JOHNSON’S ADVICE TO CONTAIN THE CORONAVIRUS
It foreshadowed an apocalyptic scenario with half a million dead. On 16 March, the UK Government took half a step backwards and gave some advice to avoid infection. But the reactions suggest that the coronavirus problem was largely underestimated.
A few hours after Premier Boris Johnson had recommended to the British the measures of “social distancing” his father Stanley had an exchange of views with Phillip Schofield during the television program “This Morning”. “Of course I’ll go to a pub if I have to go to a pub” said the Prime Minister’s father. And Schofield, between the embarrassed and the surprised, answered:” But your son just told you not to.” Johnson did not give up: ”He said we should avoid going to pubs, but if I had to go to a pub, I’d go to a pub” . At that point the other host came into the discussion:” Why would you go?” and he:” Well, because people who run pubs need customers, they don’t want the pub to be empty, this is my line”.
CHRISTIAN JESSEN AND THE CORONAVIRUS AS AN EXCUSE FOR ITALIANS TO TAKE A SIESTA
Lack of awareness of the severity of the current epidemic may seem almost unbelievable seen by Italy but only a few days earlier, on 12 March, British TV doctor and presenter Christian Jessen, in a radio interview with Fubar, “ What I’m saying might be a bit racist, and I’m gonna have to apologize, but don’t you think the coronavirus is a bit of an excuse? The Italians, we know how they are, for them any excuse is good to close everything, stop the work and take a long siesta”.
The speech that sounded racist even to the speaker, however, revealed an absolute disbelief in the face of the epidemic that is also coming from a medical graduate.
REACTION OF THE ENGLISH PUBS AFTER JOHNSON ASKED THE BRITISH TO AVOID THE CROWDED CLUBS
Boris Johnson’s recommendation to the British to avoid restaurants, bars and other public places, to us Italians seemed insufficient considered the gravity of the situation. In fact on 20 March was tightened. However, the reaction of the UK commercial structure to the first measure is to be noted. It is the behavior of those who consider the restrictions to be excessive.
Consequently the letter to the British Government by Emma McClarkin, head of the British Beer and Pub Association stated. “the phrase advising that people avoid pubs did not provide any form of advice or Clarity on how the industry should respond …. This is unhelpful in the extreme. At the same time the absence of any financial commitment to stand behind all businesses including small community pubs is creating panic with people being fearful that their livelihoods will be destroyed”.
On 20 March, Premier Johnson appeared still confident that the United Kingdom was 12 weeks away from the reversal of the trend. At that time there were 3200 positive and 144 dead in the UK. The numbers are still low compared to those in Italy or Spain, but the Prime Minister seemed unaware of the speed with which the virus spreads when not contained.
ITALY AND EUROPE ARE NOT AS READY AS ASIANS TO FIGHT THE EPIDEMIC
Finally, it seems possible to deduce one thing from what is happening. People who have had previous experiences, such as the Chinese or the Koreans, were better prepared to react and were faster and more effective in fighting the epidemic. We Europeans who have not had the experience of SARS or similar epidemics do not have equipment (masks, disinfectants, respirators, doctors ….) and we do not even manage to behave prudently. Here, at the Fattoria del Colle and Casato Prime Donne, we have closed access by reducing activities to those required by vineyards and wine. I hope everyone will do the same because it is the only way out of the coronavirus nightmare.