As we start lockdown II today, it makes sense to consider what kind of services we consider "essential"; in this context of course, meaning who gets to stay open and who has to close. What kind of services do we really need?
Lockdown version I took place in a context of lengthening days, the weather getting warmer, and a blaze of spring sunshine. Lockdown II starts 10 days after clocks went back; it's getting dark before we finish work, the sun is low in the sky and the weather patchy at best. The question raised by David Bibby's impassioned plea (below) is how we can best maintain our individual (and collective) wellbeing in this context.
Of course we need to buy food and get hold of our medication. And of course we can probably put off buying trainers for a month (despite the suggestion from Sports Direct in lockdown I that they were an essential service). But we also need to take care of ourselves physically, to get our hearts going and keep the weight off and all the other good and positive benefits that exercise can bring.
This should prompt us to consider the need to look after ourselves in "the round", to take care of our emotional, mental and physical health even as the days get darker. But it should also make us think - what are the services that we value in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities? How do we make choices about what we prioritise? What matters?
This second lockdown will be even tougher on the UK, with shorter hours of sunlight and colder weather, people in the UK will no longer feel safe or motivated to exercise outdoors. By offering essential access to gyms and leisure facilities during the lockdown period, we can help to tackle this issue of inactivity.