Never in my life did I think I would experience a global pandemic, let alone in the middle of the country that has just declared the most deaths in Europe. Yet, here I am, experiencing it head-on from the safety of my mate’s flat in Camden Town.
Let’s wind the clock back to mid-March. Government heads were down-playing the seriousness of the coronavirus with talks of the country going on lockdown still being debated in parliament. Bear in mind, this is still happening while loads of other countries on the mainland and around the world are either already on lockdown or mid-battle with the coronavirus.
Go back a little earlier to March 13th when our chief scientific advisor defended the idea of herd immunity—basically letting everyone get the virus — to avoid a total lockdown of the country, and waiting for people to naturally develop an immunity to the virus by letting the body fight it off. Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the man who supported and brought forth the idea of a herd immunity plan. I remember him saying something totally asinine like ‘keep calm and carry on.’ I know. It’s absolutely bonkers. I can’t imagine a world where that would happen successfully. Bear in mind this came from the same man who only a short time ago nearly died from catching COVID-19 had it not been for the liters of oxygen he received.
Anyway, enough about that.
My friends and I weren’t oblivious to everything going on. We were following the news every day for any sort of update. I’d moved out of my flat in Stoke Newington, North London to stay with them in Camden, North West London over the course of the summer. This all happened a few days before the lockdown was finally announced on March 23rd. The country was only half-prepared.
Our healthcare system, the NHS, is run by the state. What this basically means is that taxpayer money is used to fund healthcare in the UK leaving access to medical services free, minus certain surgical procedures that are a little specialist.
The NHS was left scrambling. Due to the way the government approached a solution for COVID-19 before the 23rd, there weren’t enough medical supplies in hospitals or respiratory kits available to help badly infected patients. The lack of preparedness was heavily criticized by a lot of people who feel that if the government had initially avoided the ‘contain, delay, mitigate, research’ plan we would’ve been better off. I totally agree. Why is it that we, one of the leading economic powers in the world and without a doubt one of the most well-known countries in the world, just acted as if it weren’t as serious as the media was saying?
We started to see on the news that the death-rate was climbing at an exponential rate. It was quite scary. We were all given a set of rules to follow by the government which you can read on gov.uk. The rules stated:
Allowed to go out for one form of exercise a day
No social contact with family or friends, unless they live with you
No public gatherings
Stay 2m apart from people when in public
Only go outside for daily exercise, food or work if you’re an essential worker
The police were also given certain powers insofar that they could find people who were caught breaking these new emergency laws.
I remember being a few days into the lockdown and seeing people in parks still frolicking about as if nothing were wrong. It made me boil inside. How could these people be so hare-brained and ignore the lockdown rules? The police quickly intervened which gave us quite the show.
It may sound a little dramatic when I say that Brits love a queue. They’re structured and logical. I don’t know why seeing a queue outside of a massive Morrison’s supermarket shocked me to the point that I had to share it with my friends on Instagram. A queue, outside a Morrison’s?! It really helped to let the feeling of a lockdown settle in. Upon entry, the whole thing was turned on its head. Non-perishable foods were totally sold out, there weren’t any eggs available, all the loo roll was gone. Everyone was in a state of panic.
It became a little scarier when, upon prompt by my old primary school teacher, I was making a short video for his students about life under lockdown in the UK. I took a walk with my friend to Camden Town, known for its yuppie culture and hipster vibes, to see something I’d never come across before. An empty Camden. I’d never seen anything like it. All the shops were closed and the high street was left barren. It was like something out of a zombie apocalypse film.
Minus the panic, the UK has pretty much been like this since late March. The NHS has been working incredibly hard to fight this thing off and I think they’re doing a brilliant job. We’re going to find out this coming Sunday just how much longer the lockdown is going to be in place for. A leaked report from the Mirror suggested that one of Boris Johnson’s elements in his five-stage plan is to allow social gatherings between family and friends from the end of May and to re-open pubs and restaurants as far away from now as September.
Although the number of recorded deaths has seen a daily decrease with the government saying now that we’ve passed the peak of the outbreak, the emergency laws here will remain in effect until a set plan is put in place outlining how we’ll eventually crawl out of this. That plan apparently will be made officially public on Sunday so we’ll have to see.
I hope everyone reading this is doing okay. Stay home, stay safe, and stay sane.