Headline writers were especially enthralled with Harries’ response to a question he was asked on the eve of the first national lockdown about how lovers should face the coming months. Standing at a lectern next to Matt Hancock (who we can assume was not listening), he said: “I’m clearly going to start a new career here in relationship counselling, so I’ll tread very carefully… If the two halves of one couple are currently in separate homes, ideally they should remain in those homes. The alternative could be that, for a fairly significant period in the future, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to reside permanently in another home.”
“Stand aside or separate,” shouted the newspapers when the shutters were lowered the next day.
Harries is a big believer in the power of human experience and believes that as a population we have learned a lot about infection control in recent years. So much so that if we were faced with another pandemic tomorrow, the UK would take a more Swedish approach to social distancing, he suggests. Social contact declined broadly to the same extent in both countries during the pandemic, but while stay-at-home orders here were mandatory by law, in Sweden they were largely voluntary.
“What we saw with omicron and subsequent waves of the pandemic, and even now, is that people are good at looking at data and will take action themselves,” Harries says. “You can see it in the footsteps going down. In fact, people begin to manage their own socialization, and [viral] The waves flatten and go down.”
So next time we will be more like Sweden, changing our behavior but without the need for legislation?
Harries is too smart to have the word Sweden or, as I will try later, South Korea, put in his mouth, but the direction ahead is clear. The key, she says, is to be transparent about the risks and build public trust.
“The more people trust the organization to give them early, accurate, honest and direct information, then yes, the likelihood of us adopting extreme forms of transmission management will reduce all the time, whether it’s coronavirus or anything else.” , said. says.