24-03-2020 – Lockdown: Day 1

Today is the first official day on UK Lockdown, following Boris’ new mandatory measures which were announced yesterday evening.  I think most people are horrified by this, unable to imagine how their lives will be trying to live under such restrictions, but it also feels like most people think this is a good move, with many, myself included, thinking this is long overdue and he should have acted sooner.  Of course the problem remains of how to ensure everyone abides by this, and judging by recent idiotic behaviour by a minority of selfish fools, there will continue to be some defiance of this.

Tweet, at 06.53, commuter ‘key workers’ on the Tube

The main issue trying to be tackled here is the new buzzword ‘social distancing’ but clearly it is impossible to ensure this since everybody’s lives and circumstances are so diverse.  The media was flooded with horrendous images of London commuters absolutely crammed into Tube trains for their unenviable journeys to work, which leads to the unavoidable conclusion that regardless of whatever other precautions these people make to protect themselves from the virus, their greatest hurdle is how to get to work where ‘social distancing’ is impossible.  It’s also worth remembering that most people are now either working from home or have lost their jobs in the midst of this chaos, so the people we’re seeing in these photos and tweets are our vital ‘key workers’ – NHS workers, care workers, teachers.  This situation has been exacerbated by the recent decision to drastically reduce pubic transport services in the hope that people will use other means of travelling to work, but clearly this has backfired badly and has resulted in putting far more people at greater risk as they now have far less options for their commute, with more people being crammed into less space on the remaining transport services.

Miles away up here, I wasn’t sure what to expect today, maybe something a little different, deserted streets perhaps, but things didn’t seem much different to the past few days.  I’ve had problems getting hold of a couple of basic items – milk and paracetamol – both necessary and becoming more urgent with each passing day, so decided that since I’m still waking up much earlier than usual, I’d try hitting the village shops early, at 8:00, before walking the dog rather than after on my way home again.

Paracetamol – the latest currency du jour

The chemist was my first stop, but now has a locked door and doorbell kind of scenario going on, with a maximum of two customers in the shop at any time, and the staff are now gloved up.  No paracetamol there, since it seems to have reached the dizzying new heights of being as coveted as loo roll, a rare commodity indeed.  Similarly, the Co-Op now has a policy of limiting the number of customers allowed in, although I’m not sure exactly how many, but once inside I noticed there were at least five staff members working and no doubt a few more out the back.  It’s interesting and quite shocking how, only a few days ago, I’d reached the conclusion that shopping in the village was the solution to the crazy supermarket problem, but now it’s turned into something else entirely.  I did manage to get some milk, but no paracetamol to be had anywhere so I’ll have to keep trying since I need them for long-term daily medication alongside opioids to manage my arthritic pain.

The dog walk was lovely and peaceful, lots of space and sunshine too.  I bumped into an elderly guy I usually see from a distance and we had a long chat at a presumably safe distance apart – I suspect that most people are feeling the impact of social isolation already.  Back at the car, there was a group of Highways Maintenance men with vans, presumably going to do some work up there today.  One of them had a minor grump to me about still having to go to work, and I tried to jolly him along by saying that there are far worse places to work today; he didn’t keep much distance from me, and his co-workers were all huddled together chatting.  I’m not really sure what Boris expects people to do, especially people who are working together, even if they are in the great outdoors.

Back home again and I decided to wash the car – big mistake!  My breathlessness problem continues and is certainly worse than a few days ago, so although I’m doing everything slowly, it remains a bit of a concern. 

E stopped to chat on his way to the village, saying he would go back through the shared yard to see if anyone was about, which I found quite alarming.  Under normal circumstances he’s a very sociable, out-and-about partying kind of guy, and will be feeling the new social restrictions profoundly.  I did remind him to be careful about being in close proximity to others, but what can you do?  He’s not some stupid teenager defying restrictions in order to brag on social media.  E is 90 years old, is lonely and craves social contact; he’s also quite deaf so has to be close to you even if you’re almost shouting.  I’ve always had a theory that he’ll outlive us all, but suspect he’s extremely vulnerable at the moment simply because of his need to chat with people.

Back in the house again and needed to do some boring stuff, clarification on a couple of things since everything seems to have changed and nobody actually knows what to do anymore.  First, I messaged DWP to ask if I still needed to provide sick notes in the current circumstances, since I couldn’t get a GP appointment for this, and felt that GPs’ time could be far better spent on more urgent issues than doing mundane bureaucratic tasks such as this.  Apparently, I do still need one, even though it seems highly unlikely that they will be insisting that anyone actively seeks work or attends job interviews at the present time, if, in fact, any such opportunities exist, which I very much doubt.  Second was regarding an appointment with the Wellness Clinic, scheduled for tomorrow at a local leisure centre which is now, obviously, closed.  I wasn’t sure whether they would replace with a telephone appointment or just postpone indefinitely, but having spent many months on their waiting list, I didn’t want to be kicked to the curb simply because I didn’t know what to do.  So it seems everything is on indefinite hold right now, except DWP’s obsession with paperwork.

Caught a bit of the news later on, and apparently some idiots have already defied the new social distancing measures by having BBQs.  I did notice a few notices up when I was out walking this morning, the same notices about banning fires and BBQs on the Moors that we had last year after vast areas of moorland were destroyed by BBQ-fires-gone-wrong.  It struck me as very strange that the notices had been put up again, thinking that now, surely, in a time of mandated distancing and isolation, why would anyone even consider having a BBQ?!  But clearly, we are still no nearer to finding a cure for sheer stupidity and selfishness.

Ending on a positive note for today, I found a card in my letterbox. Apparently the neighbours in the adjoining streets have got together to create a community support network to help anyone who needs it – shopping, medication, dog walking, support in an emergency etc., which is a fantastic and reassuring thing for everyone.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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