A Daily Mail article attacked visitors overwhelming the countryside amid Covid-19 concerns after mere days earlier encouraging flocking to said scenic locations
In the extraordinary times we are living in, emotions ranging from anxiety to helplessness to frustration run high for all of us. But for some media outlets who habitually feed people a steady diet of fear and outrage this current pandemic risks driving them to a paroxysm of red-hot emotion.
True to form, the Daily Mail generated some outrage and lambasted those who ignored social distancing guidance over the Mother’s Day weekend. The article took aim at ‘covidiots’ who engaged in non-essential travel and flooded beaches, parks and other scenic locations all over the country. Among pictures of crowds congregating from Richmond to Skegness, residents, local authorities and minor celebrities were quoted in their outrage at the people selfishly spreading the deadly virus.
It’s true that the majority of these people are not acting maliciously but rather following government advice that’s about as clear as pre-lockdown Venice canal water. But if you’ve stayed home for days, only briefly emerging at dawn in the hope of finding that elusive packet of eggs in your local shop, the images of grinning crowds treating this as an extended bank holiday might grate.
You might even find yourself in the extremely awkward position of actually agreeing with the Mail. But their otherwise valid argument is somewhat undermined by the fact that on Saturday they encouraged their readers to do precisely that.
As Politico reported, a piece on Saturday about ‘Britain’s brilliant boltholes’ encouraged Mail readers to practice the ‘buzzwords’ of social distancing and self-isolation by heading to the countryside. Highlighting locations like the Lancashire hills and the Welsh wilderness the article included hotel bargains in places to ‘revel in splendid isolation’.
While the original article wasn’t malicious in intent, the weekend showed that when what seems like everybody has the same idea to head to a ‘remote’ area to ‘self-isolate’ both terms lose their meaning.
The article encouraging potential virus carriers to travel to locales rich in natural beauty but poor in NHS beds has since been deleted.
It appears that a media outlet proud to stand by its past attacks on immigrants, judges, or Meghan Markle apparently balks at inadvertently encouraging their readers to contribute to the deaths of their countrymen.
Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist