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12 June

Coronavirus Diary with OV Jeremy Thompson: Entry 12

OV Jeremy ThompsonWe are now on entry number 12 in OV Jeremy Thompson (S 61-65)’s Virus Diaries for Sky News and this could be the final instalment. We have very much enjoyed reading Jeremy’s diaries each week- thank you Jeremy for your wit and insights over the past 12 weeks of lockdown.

Monday 1 June

School’s back. That’s the chatter of this COVID week.

Not all classes, not all children – and definitely not all parents convinced. At the school gates, legions of trepidatious grown-ups contrast sharply with offspring just itching to see their classmates.

Bea returns for four half-days a week. She’s desperate to be in school again.

Parents Emma and Ryan tell me they’re in two minds: “We’re watching with bated breath.”

But their doctor friends are sending their kids back. And even the most anxious self-isolators are chancing it.

Anyway the first week goes well. And, as Emma tells me, they even manage “a fully distanced Black Lives Matter kneeling solidarity event in the playground”.

Jamie says Alex, his five-year-old, is going alternate days. The school’s made it easy and rather fun. The kids all get a “magic wand” – a social distancing stick – to ensure they stay apart.

Alex is one of only five to return to a class designed for 15.

That means one teacher to five pupils. So the parents are delighted. Each child has their own dedicated desk, unlike most of their parents who spend their working lives hot-desking.

As her children gambol around her in the park, I hear one mum say to her friend: “I’m going to see how this first week goes before I decide whether to send back my children.”

She may be in the majority.

Peter and Karin, our most adventurous friends by far, have now followed their Los Angeles to London flight with a London to Stockholm hop.

They report that boarding the plane was done in a very orderly fashion – three rows at a time. But disembarking turned into the usual helter-skelter dash for the doors, with a total disregard for social distancing.

Stockholm was open for business, with outdoor bars carefully spaced.

After living under lockdown for two months in the US and the UK, Peter says: “It feels unreal, as if nothing has happened here in Sweden.”

But Sweden’s light touch approach may come at a price. The country has far more COVID-19 deaths than its Nordic neighbours and is facing a damaging recession.

Peter tells me the economic cost could be severe when the next quarter’s results come in. And the virus has also exposed chaos in the elderly care home business.

He thinks the government could be punished for its handling of the crisis.

For all of this week’s entry please click here.