A couple of days ago the government asked people to observe ‘social distancing’, another term that just a week ago wasn’t part of our everyday parlance. Now it’s a phrase that everybody knows, but some either don’t understand it, or blatantly ignore it.

The rule is, we shouldn’t go within two meters of other people outside of our own household. If you can work from home, you should. If you can avoid going to the shop, you should, you shouldn’t go out socially, indeed pubs, restaurants, ice rinks, bingo halls, cinemas and theatres have all been closed. Today is Mother’s Day and we’ve all been told not to visit our mothers, it’s just too risky.

Even though the prime minister has been forcing this message daily, lots aren’t getting it. The popular seaside areas which are normally very quiet in March have been packed this weekend, there are huge queues at supermarkets where people are panic buying food. There are no toilet rolls on the shelves, even though 95% of UK stock is produced in the UK and there are warehouses full of the stuff, they just can’t get them to the shops fast enough to keep supplies on the shelves. There is no pasta in the country. People are stockpiling the dried staple which will keep in their cupboards and no go off in a few days. There are shortages of all sorts of food.

I took a walk to Iceland, a frozen food supermarket this afternoon. There have been large queues outside supermarkets in the mornings, to the point that they are now only allowing elderly or vulnerable people in the high risk groups, and NHS staff, in to shop for the first two hours of opening. I chose to visit just after 12pm, when the nation will be eating their lunch, probably with their mothers having ignored the PM’s appeal.

There were only a couple of customers in the shop when I got there, so no need to queue. I worked my way around the isles making sure I didn’t cross paths with anybody else, keeping to the two-meter rule. The freezers were almost empty. I managed to pick up some frozen chicken breasts – it’s impossible to get fresh ones at the moment, and there was just one pack left in the freezer – but there was plenty of fresh food available such as fruit, ham, yoghurts, margarine and bread. The milk shelves were empty, but that’s not unusual for a Sunday afternoon.

When I got home I emptied my freezer and made a list of the contents. It could be some time before I can replenish them, but we’ve got a lot more in that I knew, it’s just massively disorganised so I couldn’t see or find a lot of it.

The government are starting to put out visuals to get the message across. They key message being, “Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives”.


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