HOW are our young people meant to feel?
On the one hand for the past month they’ve been told by Rishi Sunak to go out for dinner and drinks with friends on the beloved Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
They’ve also been assured by Gavin Williamson that returning to schools and universities carries a negligible health risk given their age.
But if they open up virtually any national newspaper today they’ll see a starkly different message coming from another Cabinet minister.
In fact, Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s warning that young folk could “kill your gran” is perhaps the most unsavoury of this crisis so far.
It immediately undermines weeks of work to try and coax a terrified population out of their houses and back to work to stave off a health and economic tidal wave that could cause destruction for years to come.
But I think it also unfairly portrays the country’s young people as reckless when it comes to coronavirus because they are less likely to suffer serious health consequences.
That’s not my experience at all. I’ve spoken to many 20-somethings throughout this crisis who have made every effort to make their lives Covid secure. Sometimes they have been at odds with the older generation who have balked at some of the restrictions to our civil liberties as a result of lockdown.
My biggest concern about the messaging coming from Hancock and Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who says we have all “relaxed too much”, is that it creates a sense of unnecessary panic.
While we have to take a potential second WAVE very seriously, there was always going to be a second SPIKE.
Schools are now open. We are very slowly returning to the workforce and getting on public transport again. More folk have been eating out. Holidays overseas have increased.
A rise was always going to be part of living with this virus, given there is no guarantee of a vaccine.
But also increasing is our testing regime, which is only getting more robust by the day.
What we should be concentrating on with laser sharp focus is the numbers of people being hospitalised as a result of Covid-19 and, of course, then tragically dying with the virus.
We have a long winter ahead. There will inevitably be dark moments.
That’s why a degree of perspective and calm is required when it comes to the reporting of case numbers, rather than a destabilising demographic blame game.