The Lowdown on Lockdowns

As most of us in the UK find ourselves in our second (or third!) lockdown since this pandemic began in March 2020, these circumstances may feel never-ending. Words that had never been put together before - support bubble, social distancing and self-isolation - are now part of our daily vocabulary. It is easy to feel like lockdowns place us back at square one.

I can't blame anyone for losing track of the restrictions in respective parts of the UK, so before I go any further, I’ll recap. England moved from its tier system into a full lockdown on 6 January 2021, for a third time. This followed Scotland’s decision to move to level four restrictions on Boxing Day 2020. Wales is in a lockdown to be reviewed at the end of January, and Northern Ireland will have their lockdown reviewed on 6 February. Ministers for these two countries have indicated such reviews will not see the easing of restrictions.

With ever-changing rules and guidance, it is no wonder that there is frustration amongst the general public. The English government’s U-turn on sending children back to school was a particular cause of resentment amongst parents and students themselves, wishing they’d had clarity before they sent their children back for the first day of school only to be told schools would be closed thereafter. On top of this, within the tier system there was confusion. Can I meet with a friend in a park? Yes? But not in my garden? And I can’t meet with this friend because they live in a different tier?

Therefore, despite the frustrating feeling that such a lockdown came too late, there is atleast now some clarity within the tier system. I for one think that, despite my resentment at having to stay at home even more, lockdown is the best option given the current circumstances. BBC news has reported that about 1 in 10 people across the UK are estimated to have had coronavirus by December 2020. At the time of writing, 21 January 2021 saw the highest number of deaths in the UK since the outbreak began. We are now suffering the tragic effects of the eased restrictions in December.

It’s not all bad news. We do, after all, have multiple vaccines which are being distributed every day, at a rate of 200 a minute according to the House of Commons. This is very impressive and something to be optimistic about. However, at the same time, it is important to remember this is part of a process. Whilst we wait for herd immunity, we must still be careful. And with the cases currently so high, a lockdown makes sense.

Such uncertainty surrounding the end of lockdown is frustrating. As human beings, we like to plan. Given that we have been living in a pandemic for almost a year now, it is no surprise that people are fed up. But if this pandemic has shown anything, it has also shown how remarkable human beings are. This will end. We will start to see life returning to normal, we will hug our friends, we will see our favourite cafes, restaurants and bars open again. It is important to remember this is temporary.

If that sounds a little cliché, I’m sorry. The best thing to do is to find some things which will help get you through. My personal tips include switching the news off. A lot of it can seem very pessimistic and hopeless. Instead, I recommend the Instagram page ‘Simple Politics.’ It gives the key updates without all the excess dialogue. Trying to get fresh air (where and when you can) is also helpful. It is crucial to take care of yourself during this time, now more than ever. This is by no means easy, and if your productivity levels are low, that is absolutely fine.

If you would like some further advice on coping with feeling overwhelmed, Mind has some strategies which might help. If you live in the UK and need to access urgent support for mental health, call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans.