Claire Buss takes a look at locked down life and what the new ‘normal’ might look like.
We’re now in week five of being locked down here in the UK and it’s remarkable how adaptive people have become. Yes, you’ve still got those who refuse to follow government guidelines and ignore social distancing because they’re immortal idiots and nothing bad ever happens to them. But, on the whole, people are doing what they’ve been told. And the curve is being flattened.
Now, the figures we’re seeing are the reported deaths in hospital and whilst that is both staggering and frightening, it is also not the whole picture. What of the deaths happening in the community? And believe me, they are happening. Has that curve flattened out? What’s the deal with having a flat curve anyway?
The point of being locked down was/is to control the number of deaths to a more manageable level whilst the NHS scramble to prepare themselves for a massive overload of patients. Apparently, they are now ready and don’t get me wrong, I salute every single NHS staff member for being absolutely incredible but I worry, are they really ready? Coronavirus has not gone. It hasn’t decided to visit another country for a while and leave the UK alone. It’s still out there. It’s still deadly. And it still has a lot more people to kill. And those people will start to die when the lockdown is lifted as it may well be in a couple of weeks time.
Other countries in the EU are cautiously lifting their own restrictions to see what happens and obviously, we will observe and hopefully adapt our own plans accordingly. There is talk of the schools being reopened in May. That feels frighteningly too soon to me. But we are where the government wanted us to be as a result of lockdown – an alleged flattened curve and a prepared NHS. So all that remains is to gradually lift the lockdown and return to your life.
But what will this new normal be like? It cannot go back to business as usual despite the elastic adaptivity of the human race. Should everyone continue to walk around with face masks on as a precaution? And what about social distancing? I’ve read that keeping yourself apart from others should be the new method of social interaction going forward. Gone is the handshake or the platonic air kiss greeting. Instead, we will stand a respectful distance away and incline our heads or bow. Maybe wearing gloves to interact with others will become standard or the continual use of hand sanitisers an acceptable business meeting routine.
The incredible effectiveness of working from home has got to raise questions on whether the polluting commute and the brain-numbing office-based 9-5 is really the best option for everyone. I truly hope that businesses become more flexible on where people work especially since the entire country has proven they can get the job done. Of course, there are jobs you cannot perform from home and I am by no means suggesting that people should remain locked inside their houses. I just wonder whether a new degree of flexibility will emerge.
I think about my high street, similar to so many of your own, and wonder which shops will still be there. Will that wonderful indie coffee shop still serve its delicious vegan mochas and immense vegan chocolate cake slices? What about the charity shops – with their older generation of volunteers, how will they be affected? Will they continue to take donations? Will the library be flooded with people desperate for new reading material or will it remain empty and barren as people can’t bring themselves to leave the house. Did local business get the help they needed on their rent or mortgages? Were all the staff successfully furloughed? I hope everyone has a job to go back to.
There have been many dire warnings of the economic fallout once lockdown lifts so I guess we have to continue to observe and wonder who will rise and who will fall. Now, more than ever is the time to go local and support the little guy.