England Coping with COVID | a glimmer of hope

A road in England. The sky is cloudy with only a few stray rays of lights peeking out, basking the trees on the side of the road with light.

COVID-19 roadmap A.K.A a good old-fashioned schedule

Here in the England, we do love a good schedule. So what better way to move away from COVID-19 than to implement such a device. Actually, I believe it’s technically called a roadmap but it’s basically a schedule. Anyway, it’s been a long road, but after three lockdowns over the last year, the UK is finally moving back into normal life.

Since December – January the UK has been in lockdown (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all imposed different restrictions at different times. This following schedule is England’s return to normalcy).

Lockdown number three

The third lockdown ended – sort of – on the twenty-ninth of March when outdoor gatherings of up to six were allowed, outdoor pools were allowed, and many workers began slowly starting to return to their offices.

But the end of lockdown hasn’t brought the end of restrictions. In keeping with the schedule, on the twelfth of April non-essential retail, libraries, and public buildings opened, as well as venues with outdoor seating – like pubs. Gyms opened, as did self-contained holiday homes like Airbnb.

Step by step we’re moving forward

Now we wait for the seventeenth of May for the next in the scheduled lifting of restrictions. Indoor venues will reopen, indoor mixing of two households or up to six people will be allowed, and outdoor mixing restrictions will lift to a limit of 30 people. It will, for many, be the final level of restrictions which will feel like life has returned to normal.

Then on the twenty-first of June all restrictions are set to lift – except possibly the rule for social distancing measures but that will be decided separately. Assuming nothing changes between now and then, this will be the end of this year of COVID-19. Of course, come winter a few restrictions may need to be adopted to stop another escalation, but that’s for the future. For now, we look on with cautious optimism.

Crossing each milestone

Throughout this schedule, the daily cases of COVID-19 are being tracked, as is the R-rate and a few other technical things which show the spread of COVID-19. The UK is also on course for its vaccine rollout, with over half the population already vaccinated.

Things are looking good – again, cautious optimism here. This lifting of restrictions on the 12th of April and the lifting on the seventeenth of May will be the real tests to see how the virus is, or isn’t, spreading.

But so far, things are on track.

A variety of COVID-19 experiences

It is difficult to sum up the current experience of the move away from COVID-19. The restrictions are still very much felt for most of the population. While those who live in more rural areas may have more freedom with the countryside at their doorstep, the closure of local pubs and community centres has put an immense strain on small towns and villages and its economic ramifications will continue to be felt for some time.

In larger towns and cities, the restrictions on movement and the general encouragement by the government to work from home is a constant reminder than things still have far to go before life returns to normal. Also, with nowhere open indoors, in cities like London the pavements can often be packed with people trying to experience some semblance of normalcy.

And I haven’t even factoring into the equation industries like the service or entertainment industry, both of which have been heavily impacted this last year and both of which will take a great deal of time to recover.

A long road to recovery

Even if things go according to plan and all restrictions are lifted in June, the British economy will take a long time to recover. That being said, predictions are optimistic. The question that remains now is how the UK will adapt to a world post- COVID-19. Because while many of us might want to go back to the way things were, to forget this last year, we have to learn from what has happened. We do have to make changes to the way we live. If we can use this last year as a steppingstone to a more economically and environmentally secure future, then we are less likely to return to a year like 2020. Nobody wants that.

And after all, you know what they say about history repeating itself.*