I was quite shocked yesterday (23rd June) when I read that the government would no longer be holding the daily 5 pm press briefings on coronavirus.
I have found them hugely useful (plus irritating, exasperating and whole host of other emotions) right from the start, and have made a point of listening or watching most days. On days when I haven’t been able to watch or listen I’ve read the updates on two different news sites to get the key points. I’m very conscious of my own news consumption and selective, in ‘normal’ times, about where I get my news from, and how much I consume. The daily briefings have allowed me to get what I needed straight from the horse’s mouth, and be informed about the issues that affect me and mine.
On a personal level, I’m quite at a loss now about where to get the updates I want and need. I don’t want or need to know everything there is to know but I do need to keep playing my part and staying safe. Plus, in searching for what I need I’m likely to consume more in volume to get to the salient points I need. Thus my consumption will go up, which is not good for me.
On a non-personal level why in the heck are they stopping them now? We are still very much in the midst of this pandemic and far from out the other side. If you listen to Prof Chris Witty, England’s chief medical officer, (and I do, hanging on his every word) we’ll be living with this virus for a very long time. Given that we are part of the solution to keeping numbers down and keeping people alive we need to be informed, and regularly.
Also, what does it signify? No more briefings, but why? Because it’s all over? But it’s not! And far from it. Given that much of the briefing yesterday (the last daily one) was about easing lockdown and opening up the economy, but not all of it, and with caveats and covid-19 measures across the board, it leaves us all with many, many questions. And now no opportunity to ask those questions. So, I’m flummoxed by this decision to end the daily press briefings when we most definitely still need them.
Some people have been inside for 12 weeks plus. Some people have been on furlough from work for some or all of this time. The many variations on people’s circumstances are too many to mention/list here but for a lot of that, very little has changed in terms of our personal behaviour and what we are allowed/not allowed to do. What changes now (or as of 4 July) is pretty much everything for everybody so surely we need the daily briefings more than ever?
We’ve been getting mixed messages and confused comms from very early on in this thing. This decision to end the daily press briefings seems like a very poor decision and will surely lead to people failing to adhere to the guidance. We can only be part of the solution if we are kept informed. I just can’t fathom the strategy on this.