Here we go again. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming a mile off. We need all our patience and adaptability to cope in these uncertain times. The first lockdown was bad enough, but now it seems that the waters have been muddied. It doesn’t seem like a “proper” lockdown this time. More shops and businesses are open, and although some people continue to work from home, many have jobs where home working is not possible. Covid etiquette still exists – leave two metres space, wear a mask, wash hands, be kind – but how many people are still actively practising “hands, space, face”?
Our instinct may be to rush around and gather as many items as we can when out shopping, avoiding all human contact. But we are human and we are social animals (well, most of us, perhaps) and we need that human connection. It is the essence of our being and we require more than just to merely exist. This is our dilemma. We need to keep safe, keep distant, but we also need to be close. We have tried many different approaches, sitting on opposite sides of a park bench, going for a distanced walk, sitting apart in a cafe unless we live in the same household, and when we could go in each other’s houses, keeping the windows open and sitting miles away from each other.
This is all so alien to us and it has taken us months to adjust to the new normal. Yet we must do, as our hospitals predictably fill up again. But this lockdown will be wasted if we don’t know who has got the virus and if we don’t persuade these people to do the responsible thing. We know what must be done, but financial and personal reasons get in the way. It is a survive or suffer dilemma which many people have to face on a daily basis. Unlike the first lockdown, now the dark nights are drawing in and people cannot get outside as easily as they could before. The mental health of many people has deteriorated due to the pandemic and subsequent isolation, and winter is never an easy season to cope with.
And what of the Covid deniers who think that their freedom has been taken away for nothing? Nobody is going to persuade them that this lockdown is worth doing again. Some are older and want to enjoy what is left of their lives, others are younger and think it’s unfair that they should be locked away and not enjoy their lives when older people could be shielding. Or some who just do not see that although they may not be at risk, could spread the virus to others who are. Some of these people might be friends or family members.
It would be great to start thinking collectively and to act with more social responsibility. This is difficult because we all have our own priorities and our own particular set up of family and friends. It can be hard to see the bigger picture. What we have proven is that we can support each other in small ways. The first proper lockdown illustrated this point. We know how to act responsibly and can achieve an awful lot. However, when we see that our leaders are not following the same rules this can seem unfair and can leave us frustrated and let down.
We have seen that another scenario is possible, where we consume less and use less fuel and energy. For a few months the world was a cleaner, greener place. We appear to have lost that again but it is never too late. We can capture what we achieved before, but it will take an immense national will.