For or against? Social distancing debate sparks huge response

Police patrol the promenade at Hunstanton beach in Norfolk on Sunday, as the UK continues in lockdow

Police patrol the promenade at Hunstanton beach in Norfolk on Sunday, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Fears that the irresponsible actions of a minority will lead to further freedoms being taken from the majority was the common theme in an extensive debate about Covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

We posed the question ‘are tougher social restrictions needed to combat Covid-19?’ in a poll on this website yesterday, following comments from health secretary Matt Hancock that the allowance for people to leave the house once a day for exercise could be reviewed as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues.

MORE: Are tougher social restrictions needed to combat coronavirus?

That’s due to police forces being kept busy around the country as the government guidelines were flouted during warm weather over the weekend, with Norfolk Constabulary giving out 109 warnings and issuing 16 court summons.

MORE: Pub reported to trading standards and police break up house party as lockdown rules ignored

At the time of writing, our poll saw 65pc of votes saying tougher restrictions are needed, with 27pc voting against and the remaining 8pc saying they are unsure.

However, a post on the @EDP24 Facebook account generated a huge amount of debate, drawing over 500 reactions and almost 450 comments.

While many were simply replying with a yes or no answer and there were several either joking around or going too far with silly suggestions - as is par for the course with social media - there were also many serious responses.

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Emphasising that the situation is extremely difficult for local authorities and the police to both manage and develop, there was a real blend of genuine answers both for and against.

Here are a selection of the Facebook comments reflecting the opinions aired during the discussion - with the poll remaining open above.

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Mark Newstead

Unfortunately this whole thing relies on common sense, and social responsibility. And not being a selfish idiot, This isn’t a game, where you can bend the rules to “win” on a technicality.

Lindsay Parfitt

Not really, just tougher penalties and enforcement.

Joe Fisher

No. Just read that Sweden refuse to lockdown, instead choosing to protect the vulnerable and allow the fit and healthy to contract the virus. By mid-May they expect 60% of the population to have had it and recovered. That’s probably a lot quicker than the UK can come out of lockdown. How else are we supposed to build up an immunity to it?

Michelle Anna

Yes. Surely full lockdown short term would be better than partial lockdown long term.

Amanda Betts

It’s bad enough already only allowed out for bike ride or to get food, can’t keep people locked in the house all day every day, folk will go mad.

Wendy Norman

No. People should be able to use common sense surely. There are not many people behaving like idiots.

Christine Walters

Yes - it might be tough - but if others won’t respect the rules then perhaps we need to get tougher. That said - you can’t legislate for those who ‘wont’. No matter how much you legislate it will be exactly like drink-driving - the law is incredibly difficult to enforce and there are always going to be those who think they can get away with it. Best we can do is all try to make it plain that it’s unacceptable to each and every one of us as individuals.

Pip Murphy

No. It’s really bad for people’s mental health and this is going to cause so many other health and social problems.

Gina Savage

Not really, I think penalise those who abuse it harder.

Judith Smith

No because the idiots will still ignore the restrictions and those of us who are following them will be the ones to suffer.

Trudi Harvey

Minority spoils it for the majority as usual.

Rachel Smith

I will do whatever it takes. I am currently at home and only been out two times in 30 days.

Nicola Smith

Don’t think they should stop people running and cycling on the road it’s the parks and the open grass and grass areas which are the problems also it’s not so much round here in Norfolk where people are socialising it’s London and cities

Karen Coe

That would punish those that are already doing the right thing. Enforce the fines that have been agreed first, if that doesn’t work, then yes, tighten the restrictions.

Jacqueline Ward

I would definitely welcome tougher restrictions as there are still a lot of stupid people putting the rest of us at risk. Gates to parks should be closed and if they don’t have gates put a notice up saying there will be a hefty fine if you enter. Same with the beaches and beauty spots. People need to pack it in and stop being selfish.

Faye Peacock

Of course. I love all my family and friends, and will do whatever to keep them alive and safe. I think people that ignore the new rules are very selfish, by looking at other countries, a total lockdown will mean a lower rate of death. This would also mean a shorter period of time living how we are. So many people are selfish and think they are above anyone else. It will only become a reality when it’s their loved one that is dead.

Rachel Parkerson

No. Some people this applies to will still break the rules, you will never get rid of those people in society. There will be an even bigger increase in domestic violence and mental health problems. No point in locking down even further, as proved in other countries. The people who are worried are following the rules already.

Tess Denis

I’m afraid so yes, even though I do feel sorry for people who are stuck in flats without a small garden of their own. It’s hard, and tough on mental health. However, we need to look at the big picture for our own safety as well as for those of others.

Kevin Bennett

Yes bring full lockdown in that will teach them to listen.

Robert Bartram

Should have been done straight away, far too many people being like naughty little children.

Denise Slaughter

No, I would really struggle if denied the chance to exercise outdoors once a day.

Kevin Clarke

Yes I would. First thing Saturday morning five lycra-clad idiots came past my house all riding side by side on racing bikes. The other day a group of adults were having a picnic on the playing field, the men were kicking a football around. When the hell are people going to get the message, what is so hard to understand, it’s a simple request, stay at bloody home.

Ian Rigg Peterson

I’d be annoyed that a few idiots ruined it for the majority but of course I’d support it.

Leigh Weir

No. Tougher checks and penalties are needed on the non-compliant! Why the hell should the majority suffer for the selfish minority!? We’re being told we’re responsible for them and that’s NOT okay!

Gemma Dodman

Absolutely, this is needed as some people will not stick to the guidelines. As soon as the sun comes out they are off - need to do it for the greater good.

- What do you think? Cast your vote in the poll above or leave a comment below.

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