This got real

Throughout the day news reports were showing pictures of crowded beaches over the weekend, gatherings in town centres, and other social meetings. The government’s guidelines were being ignored by a large section of society.

In the afternoon TV stations started promoting a broadcast by prime minister Boris Johnson which would be on TV at 8.30pm. Until now his daily press conference had been shown around 5pm on the news channels, but this was going out in prime time and across all the main channels.

“Stay at home. The only you’re allowed out of your home is….” was Johnson’s message. We were now starting to understand what lockdown meant. We’re not allowed out of our homes unless one of these four conditions apply:

  1. Shopping for food/medical necessities – but get it delivered if you can
  2. Once a day for exercise – on your own or with members of your own household
  3. Medical need or providing care
  4. Travelling to or from work (if you can’t work from home)

If you are caught out of your home for any other reason the police can issue on the spot fines. The first will be £30, but if you continue they can escalate upto £1,000. New laws are to be rushed through parliament this week to confirm the right for police to issue these new fines. The laws will be reviewed every three months until they’re no longer needed.

This was a direct response to those people who didn’t follow the advice. While other countries had been quick to ban citizens from leaving their home, our government wanted to offer the opportunity for everybody to act responsibly without having to enforce it. They treated us like adults, yet some of us just couldn’t be trusted. Indeed, some even posted online that they will keep doing whatever they want, until they are banned from doing it; and that advice and guidance didn’t have to be followed.

I’ve thought it for some time, but these last few days have really confirmed my feeling that we’re now living in a society that says, “fuck you, I’ll look after myself”. That’s not all of society of course, but there’s enough people to make it noticable.

IMG_7557

Lockdown

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”.

IMG_7549