7 weeks into the Lockdown. And everything has changed so drastically.
~Small children now have a restricted time to when they can play outside,
~Teenagers cannot spend time with friends,
~ Students are having to self educate, petrified that they are not doing enough, or doing it right
~Adults are petrified about whether they will be able to get enough money now and in the future to make ends meet
~Front line workers are working flat out, harder than ever before, terrified
While older relatives are missing children and granchildren, after having to isolate themselves compleatly.
You do not realise how so much can change in such little time, until it actually happens… Inevitably this has taken a toll on those who live in challenging households, those who were already “just about getting by” financially, and those who suffer with mental health issues. Plus with everyone else, we all miss people who we love and the experiences the world had on offer to us, before this lockdown begun…
Meanwhile according to official statistics, the UK has been the second most effected country in the world now only behind the USA. With nearly 30,000 lives lost (edit, over 30,000 now) each belonging to a valuable individual. Where so much potential for them is lost, plus a circle of grieving friends and family members surrounds each of these cases.
Now however it may appear that we have “passed our peak”, as on Monday we saw the lowest daily death toll since March. Nonetheless this was still above 300, and if we compare ourselves with other countries like New Zealand where they have exerecised very similar lockdown measures but these were put in place literally when daily deaths were in single figures, and it remained this way all throughout- with a total of just 20 deaths! Whilst they forced Quarantine on those coming through the boarders, very early on, before any lockdown was under way. In stark contrast from the UK, whereby just a few days ago the government announced that they will begin to in-force those coming into the country, to self isolate for 14 days- being after the catastrophe we have experienced. While Greece were more “on it”, concerning putting in the right measures at the right time, having only experienced 150 deaths in total, far more than what the UK is experiencing even now on a day to day basis. And that is in-spite of Greece facing “a near decade-long debt crisis”. Economic analyst Antonis Papagiannidis describes Britain’s handling of this pandemic as being “almost Mediterranean in style, flippant and carefree”. And people who stress that our government’s handling of this has been unsatisfactory have every right to feel this way. From the unclear message at the beginning where we were brainwashed in thinking this was nothing worse than the flu and that as long as we “wash our hands” (and sing happy birthday) all would be ok, to the unwillingness to react to what was going on in Europe at the time thus the too late lockdown measures, denying to accept Europe’s offer of PPE to us for a reason no bigger than “for political reasons” and far more cockups as it were. Nonetheless someone more symphatetic towards “this government” will claim that it is the “toughest job of any government in years.” And you cannot really deny this being true… Whilst the lengthy period of austerity prior to this, didn’t help. Putting the NHS under far more strain than what would have been necessary otherwise.
But right now, most of us don’t want to focus on looking back, but instead to look forward to what will happen next. As inevitably people will wonder whether they will be able to go back to work, and if so what extra precautions will they be obliged to make. While people want to know if they will be able to meet with family members and friends, and some off us kind of want to buy another potted plant (it can and will wait, don’t worry!) Nevertheless some people believe that lifting the lockdown now would be far too soon, and it should therefore wait until we are confident that there are very little new infections. Otherwise, as well as the extra avoidable suffering that lifting the lockdown now could cause, some speculate that it could potentially cause a “second wave”. This way, it would be like a “lose, lose” situation, where apart from anything else, the economy could shrink more than if there were to be a slow, planned and steady exit…
Nonetheless as we have heard all too much, it is those people who are vulnerable to this who we are aiming to protect the most. And quite rightly so. However to me, in a way it seems like a battle between protecting one aspect of vulnerability against the other. The primary protection of, well fragile lives and really thinking of it, seemingly trivial matters including the economy, people’s jobs and people’s mental health. m m
Personally I would say to be gentle, all around. For a start, the reopening of the country should be handled with care and caution, making tiny changes every over a long period of time. So this way at it gives us a constant boost, feeling we have something to look forward to, while we are less worried about the consequences of this- as at least the country is reopening in a controlled manner, where we can keep on top of the side effects of this. Meanwhile we can try to be a little more understanding towards those who may not be strictly following the rules, or have a little more lee-way. This way I am not saying things like mass gatherings should be encouraged. Absolutely not! Nevertheless a little understanding towards those youngsters who may be seen with one or tow friends could be implemented, as I am sure that this would be a living hell for anyone experiencing a very tough time at home and their only escape is by spending time away.
However it has already been afloat in some newspapers that police have been letting young people who are in difficult households travel to a local friend’s home for a “cooling off period”. And to some extent, I think this a good thing. As otherwise they may be a greater risk of not letting this happen, than of having just a couple more people meeting one or two people, when they need that period of stability. Nevertheless there is a bit of a dilemma, as it isn’t too clear and I am sure there are many in a situatiion who aren’t able to leave for a littlee bit, as the parents are unaware of this rule- Or unwilling to admit there is a problem. However to be fair, this has not been implamented by the government. Rather, it is just whhat the police are “accepting”, so not many people in this situation would be aware that they’re of to see a friend. Meanwhile what would happen if the the government were to make this all a bit clearer. It may inevitibly lead to more of us intrepreting these rules to our liking, putting more people at risk. Plus anybody can lie… Likewise if people became aware that those who are “hanging out” are not being punished, more and more will follow like sheep…
Another issue is the government has said from the start that people are allowed to leave the house for more than “1 form of exercise a day”, for “health reasons”. For instence, somebody suffering autism may be allowed to travel to their favourite spot and spend more time outdoors for longer, and more than once a day- which the government made clearer a few weeks ago. This way it looks like those whos own health would be effected by the lockdown rules, do have protection. Nevertheless no exeptions have been made for, those who suffer mental health and may be more at risk from not seeing others.
But there is always a line to draw with these kind of issues, and a compromise to be met between one side and another. Is it right that we should
Regarding businesses, I would personally argue that all businesses should receive support. Especially those smmaller independent ones, ones where there are many workers, and those which have a positive efvfect on the community. And although the government is stepping in massibvely to help most business, it is not quite as good as it seems. People who have been self employed for less than a year for instence, havent been able to recieve any government help. And whilst the government’s loans are helpful to business, they only really help businesses up to an extent. While most will still be paying “lockdown”, rent, while getting barely any income through the door- if any being a cafe. Moreover, people do not know when this will come through… So in this cse, it could and will lead to some businesses going down, meaning higher rates of unemployment and social issues arising because of this. Now should the government be more gental with this, and let those “low risk” businesses go back to work, or should they wait longer. Or chip in a bit more, and pay them a guaranteed amount according to the number of months or weeks that they are not able to be at work for. And while I most certainly see the point about why the economy should be the last on the agenda, s we have to prioritise people’s lives- unfortunately like it or not, the strength of the economy definitely has a massive effect on people’s livelihoods- and length of lives. Imagine if there are too many firms gone and too many people out of work at once, the government will need to pay more benefits. Thus may result in more cuts (sadly..). Then there will be increasing numbers of families, who cannot afford to put food down on the table at every meal 😦
Another side is that, why can the government not help these businesses stay afloat more? Yeah, another bloody hard thing… The issue of “where will the money come from” has to arise doesn’t it? And yeah, there are ways the government could extract this money if they wished, but there would be risks. Therefore they have to prioritise where and how to spend this. And part of this is a long term plan of how to go about taxing people and spending money… Or the big unanswerable question about how can we make the economy work better?
I think whatever happens, regarding businesses the government should do their best to not keepp them in the unknown. Many are able to “work from home”, meanwhile there are some whiich would require strict office social distancing rules if they were to return. Now how about those who kind of provide public entertainment. Now I am not talking about summer festivals, pubs and concerts. No way. But the controversial question of whether Nanny Betty should be able to pop into the local farm shop to buy some gardening seeds. Or whether old Uncle tom should be allowed to pop to the local libary to take out some books. Or about whether i can buy some compost so that I can actually repot my plant that has grown so big that the roots are visible from above. Yeah, horrible! Now obviously none of these people would be going out for “essential” reasons, but is it important to help these workers.
There is also the issue off compaciency. Some of us Brits unfortunately don’t like being told what to do. So if we let the lockdown linger on for too long, then people may not take the guidelines so seriously. However, if we relax it, peoplle may choose to twist the rules further. Whiilst it is quite possible small businesses may illegially open up again.
But perhaps really, the only way of enabling the best protection, is by telling people how serious it still is, rather than saying how this is not serious. Like I remember about 2 weeks before we went into “lockdown” and many of the European countries who hadn’t had it as bad as us were already in this situation. Meanwhile many of us were still busy laughing it off… And it didn’t really hit, until nearer to the time, where there were finally fewer cars on the road, and we were all too busy buying loo paper (dont worry, im not really guilty of that.
Ok, so this is just what comes to my mind regarding easing the lockdown. It is scary to write really, as in a few years, months, weeks I may look back on this and think how horrifically wrong I am. Yet I am SO SO undecided. And in-fact, I don’t know if anyone really knows what is best or what to do. No idea really what will happen on Sunday, where many of expect us to see a few measures being relaxed. Will any measures be relaxed, or will there be another extension? Both of these prospects scare me to be honest, but my gut instinct is that it would be better for very little change at the moment, to ensure at least better safety. I dread to think what another wave would bring, I dread to think what else could happen in the future, I dread to imagine the vast amounts of suffering this pandemic + lockdown are causing together. It’s an extraordinarily grim prospect when you come to think of it. Whilst I hope that we can learn to be better prepared for something like this in the future, to Maybe the lockdown will teach everyone something. In that there needs to be a more equal society so we aren’t all worrying over the detrimental economic effects, Perhaps all we can do during times like this is to hope, hope that we will have learned in the future to take more precautionary steps as well as the importance f protecting our fragile planet. Less potential future suffering. As well as hoping for better times ahead. Whatever happens, it is beyond our control, really with something like this we cannot be expected to “stay positive” but we can remember good times we have experienced, and use this as proof that good times remain ahead even though they may seem out of sight. While hope that too, the world may just be able to change and grow slightly from this…
Coming back to this a few days later, having already written the bulk, the gap between then and now has given me a little extra time to think things through.
And with currently 7 minutes before Boris Johnson is expected to announce what will happen next, here is what I hope (and probably think will be the case at least with some of this…). So I strongly hope, and am confident that it won’t be like flicking a swith. I reckon many closures will still remain. I hope social distancing remains in place, and duh it will do.. However I think (and hope) that the government will discreetly provide some businesses with guidelines of how to SAFELY get back to work, where it is not possible or always practical to work from home, and where it doesn’t involve crowds of people. I acknowledge it is important to get the economy moving again, in a slow,, steady and responsibly handled way. Because like said before, it kind of is people’s livlihoods. Though then I know the gvnt can intervene and help AND IT SHOULD DO SO. But being unemployed does effect MH with some regardless… Moreover concerning people meeting others, aany gig groupings shouldn’t be aallowed. And the rule of not seeing others (non household members) should stiull be in place cuz of the simplicity. But I think the mutual understanding that some people would be having a hard time, needs to be in place, and that young people in small groups should beignored unless in huge groups