‘I can’t wait to sit in a pub with a pint chatting with my friends when this is all over.‘ ‘I can’t wait to have a cuppa with my grandparents when this is all over.‘ ‘I can’t wait to go to a restaurant when this is all over.’ ‘I can’t wait to get paralytic in Jesters when this is all over.’
Phrases like these have been flying around in abundance over the past week or so, and things have intensified since Boris’ announcement on Monday 23rd March. For me, that was the scariest moment so far. Until that broadcast, I had been in denial that the severe restrictions faced by other areas of the world would affect the UK in the same way – it all seemed so far away, merely videos on twitter and news headlines. Now it’s here, it’s rubbish, and there’s still more to come. Yesterday, I had to queue to go into a supermarket. I’m used to shivering in the Oceana queue, waiting to enter the sweaty dance floor before grabbing a drink and forgetting about the cold. Shivering outside of Sainsbury’s with my Bag for Life waiting to buy courgettes, onions and bread was a different vibe entirely.
Last night (26th March), the entire nation huddled together on their doorsteps, at a safe distance from their neighbours, to applaud our NHS. A sense of community and optimism swept the nation and there was a brief glimmer of hope. However, clapping is not enough. In this “war” against coronavirus, they are our frontline, and they deserve the respect that this role demands. What will happen to our NHS when this is all over? Will it get the investment it deserves? Will its workers be treated fairly at last?
Overnight, homeless people have been offered shelter to self-isolate. Resolving the crisis of homelessness was truly simple, after all. Yet when this is all over, will they be forced back onto the streets? Will the country resume treating them with total disregard?
Self-employed workers have been offered support that has been offered in other European countries for years. The need for this support has not emerged in the UK due to this pandemic however, it has existed for years. Will it be withdrawn when this is all over?
On a more basic level, communities have pulled together to support their most vulnerable groups, people are smiling at each other whilst queuing to go into supermarkets, families and friends are in regular contact, and everyone is checking up on each other. In the midst of something so difficult, this is lovely to see. When this is all over, why shouldn’t this behaviour continue? Since when did kindness become a special measure?
This pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of our society and highlighted ways to fix this. The correct path forward has never been clearer, but will we take it when this is all over?