What young people want to ask the government about its coronavirus strategy

  • Words by ITV News multimedia producer Wedaeli Chibelushi

Young people in the UK aged under 18 have been expressing their thoughts on coronavirus, given they're unable to submit questions for the government's daily coronavirus press conference.

From late April, members of the public have able to quiz the government about coronavirus at the daily Covid-19 press conference.

However, to submit questions you must be over 18.

You must be aged over 18 to ask a question at the coronavirus press conference. Credit: gov.uk

A government spokesperson told ITV News: "Accepting questions from people under the age of 18 will require further processes and additional protections to ensure that privacy is protected."

Six under 18s expressed their thoughts about the pandemic and what they'd ask during the government briefings if they could.

  • Alicia from Essex, aged 17

Alicia from Essex. Credit: Alicia

With my mental health, I originally was struggling quite a lot but now I'm doing a lot more to make the day go quicker.

It's very hard to gain any sort of motivation because the future is so uncertain, especially being a student with exams next year!

Do I feel safe with the current government guidelines? No, but at the end of the day, they have to ensure post-Covid we still have a country to go back to!

Saying that, the strategy scares me. It's supposedly done all on science but it seems there has been no common sense put with the facts. It just seems a little unrealistic.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: Why did you forget about the youth of this country? They deserve a say in what happens next as they will be the generation to live with the long term consequences.

  • Tia from Cardiff, aged 15

Tia from Cardiff. Credit: Tia

I'm doing okay; I have siblings and I think that's really helping me through this. I think if I was alone it would be a lot harder. What I'm struggling with is not having a massive house and a massive garden. It's hard not to have a lot of space.

I like to watch the news and I use a news app on my phone. I've set notifications, so when one pops up I have a read to stay informed about coronavirus.

I watched the Welsh government's press conference - I can praise that in a way as they haven't mentioned specified dates, things are more based on science.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: Is the economy more important than the public's health? At the moment, I feel parts of the government are prioritising the economy.

  • Archie from Staffordshire, aged 15

Archie from Staffordshire. Credit: Archie

I would say that I’ve coped well with the pandemic so far. Fortunately, no one I know has been affected by the virus. However, it is saddening and shocking to see the sheer volume of people losing their lives.

I think the media has done a good job at relaying relevant information to the public about the pandemic. The guidelines were very clear for the first seven weeks of the lockdown. Now the country is beginning to open up again however, the new guidelines are more complicated.

When the disease first came to this country, I think the country was too slow to impose restrictions. However, some people have been far too quick tocriticise the government using hindsight.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: What measures will be taken in the future to ensure that there won’t be a second wave of the virus?

  • Leah from Norfolk, aged 15

Leah from Norfolk. Credit: Leah

Things can be really difficult at times. You can be in an okay mood, then it goes straight to: "I really need to go out, I need to calm down before coming back in to talk".

I sort of feel informed about the government's strategy, but I sometimes feel confused about what they're trying to put out into the public domain. I normally keep up to date through social media and the news.

I'm a young carer* and lockdown means I'm doing more full-time caring. I used to go to school, then come back and look after my little brother and then have time to myself because I used to go to clubs. Now, I'm always stuck at home looking after him to make sure he's alright.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: Could you produce a traffic light graphic detailing what sort of things are safe to do and what aren't?

  • Anonymous, Hertfordshire, aged 9

The pandemic is not nice for me. My life has changed a little, and sometimes it feels like a long summer holiday. I do school at home. It is fine, but I miss my friends and teachers.

I think the lockdown idea is good. It keeps a lot of people safe andthen they won’t spread germs and don’t get ill. I think the idea of people notworking and receiving money from the government is a good idea that will help a lot of people and the community, so the food shops don’t close down. If they did it would be bad and then no one will be happy.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: Will we beable to do anything like football matches, parties and going on holiday in a different country ever again?

  • Luke from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, aged 17

Luke from Northern Ireland. Credit: Luke

Unlike other young people who have hobbies in art or music which can be done at home, a lot of my free time is spent campaigning for and representing my constituents in my role as the local Youth MP.

This usually involves numerous meetings a week, so this is a big change I've had to get used to.

The technology which is in place to enable video calls and online learning definitely make 'life in lockdown' a lot easier but being able to go for a coffee and a catch-up or hug your friends is what I'm really missing. I do love a good Zoom quiz though!

Quite simply the government is failing in its duty to communicate with young people.

Reopening schools for example, the government has held tense meetings with the teaching unions yet hasn't reassured young people that they will be safe when they return to school.

This isn't some alien and complicated concept, the leaders of New Zealand, Norway and Scotland have all held Q&As specifically for young people.

If I could ask the government one question, it would be: Why are they ignoring the concerns and requests of the devolved governments? Surely the PM must accept that his statement to the nation and ensuing advertising in the devolved nations was in the least executive overreach?

*Support for young carers during the Covid-19 pandemic can be found here.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know