Once a day during this lockdown I take my children out on their scooters for their state approved outdoor exercise. I am lucky to live on a very quiet estate in a small Yorkshire town. Social distancing is easily maintained and going for a walk in the area is safe.

There is a little wooded area my six-year-old George calls “the wilderness” where we go to play, explore and catch insects. Spending so much time with my children under the lockdown restrictions has reminded me how to take pleasure in the little things. The simple things.

My two-year-old boy Charlie is talking about the beach a lot. We even went to the seaside in our imagination the other day. We had fish and chips and ice cream. George wants to go swimming and to visit the garden centre. They are missing normal life. No playgrounds. No parks. No eating out. No swimming. No days out. No seeing beloved grandparents. They appreciate simple things, but they also miss the special things.

Going out for a walk or on scooters is a simple pleasure at a time when our lives have become unbearably constricted. Yet today I must contemplate the idea that we may soon be told that we cannot even do that, and personally I think that would be a step too far.

Yesterday, Matt Hancock warned us that outdoor exercise may be banned if people continue to flout social distancing rules. He said he “understands how difficult” the COVID-19 pandemic is for the country but insisted the lockdown must be adhered to.

Clearly, the government is desperate to ensure that the health system isn’t overwhelmed. The human cost of that would be immense and Italy provides a disturbing case study. That’s what the lockdown is all about. The pithy message “Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives” is a mission statement the country has bought into.

The problem is this: if the government goes too far with the restrictions and the police fail to apply some pragmatism, common sense and empathy in their application of the law, then they will undermine our collective mission. Public trust could be lost and along with it consent for the lockdown.

We are not prisoners. The police are our public servants. They must remember this when they record us with drones, shame us on the internet, hector us for buying Easter eggs, fine us for stopping too long during our allocated exercise time and threaten us with arrest for being out in our cars. We may be living under temporary police state conditions, but must they relish it quite so much?

Matt Hancock says that he understands, but does he? Does he understand what it’s like for people who live in small flats in a tower block? Would he like to be in their shoes if they are told they can’t even leave their flat? Does he really understand what it’s like for people who live alone and are struggling with enforced isolation?

There are photos of people in parks circulating on social media. Every day the lockdown puritans have their five minutes of hate to spit out their vitriol at them. Among them are families with children who live in small homes with no garden, people who live in high rises who got sick of looking out the window, and lonely souls feeling anxious alone and need of fresh air for their wellbeing.

Piers Morgan calls them “traitors”. The virtuous patron saint of the lockdown spends his days writing hysterical moralising tweets in shouty upper case and directs them at anyone who dares to go outside. He chastises the government; he condemns park-goers and he downplays the difficulty of what is being asked of us. All of this is easy to do from a luxurious home with a huge garden. Like life itself, one’s ability to deal with the lockdown is greatly enhanced by wealth. You can be sure Piers is deprived of very little.

“All you’re being asked to do is sit at home and watch Netflix” typifies the comments you get if you discuss the many inevitable negative consequences of the lockdown. This is narrow minded oversimplification made by people who appear to have not given the wider implications of this lockdown any real thought at all.

For the couple unable to be together it’s not so easy. For the grandparents deprived of the joy of their grandchildren this is hard. For the agoraphobe who was making progress and finally able to go to the shop without having a panic attack, this is a significant setback. For the clinically depressed people who had pledged to get themselves socialising again this is catastrophic. For many recovering addicts who were trying to kick the habit, this isolation is being alleviated only by them surrendering to their addiction.

It’s time that the government and the lockdown puritans became more sensitive to this. Every day we are instructed to remain in our homes. Yet the cost in physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention to people’s livelihoods are absolutely immense. This is going to leave scars.  Most people accept the lockdown because they want to protect the NHS and save lives, but it will become unsustainable with overzealous policing and overly-extreme conditions.

To punish the many for the actions of a few and imprison us in our homes is too much. For the physical and mental health of the people I hope the government doesn’t cross that line. Those people demanding yet more restrictions must remember that for the law to be enforceable and sustainable it must be credible and enforceable. Policing depends on consent, as does this lockdown. Once consent is lost civil disobedience will soon follow. Then things could spiral out of control.

Let us heed the words or her Majesty the Queen and tap into the British traits of self-discipline and good-humoured resolve. We need to look after each other, show understanding and obey the lockdown while showing common sense and empathy.

Let’s not descend into a society of self-righteous jobsworths and busy bodies, snooping and snitching on each other, and shaming each other online. Taking your children for a walk is not a crime.