Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
2020 was not a good year. 2020 was in fact a very bad year, and for most people, the worst year of their lives. The world has experienced such fundamental change and chaos and tragedy in the past year, I don’t need to recount all of it here – we’ve lived it, we know what happened. We’re all so desperate for this year to be over, clinging onto the idea that 2021 will be better. But as we are increasingly approaching the start of the new year, it’s had me thinking that 2021 is actually being set up to be as bad as or even worse than 2020.
Most obviously, the horrendous problems raging through the world today will not be solved upon the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The Coronavirus pandemic is the biggest of these issues, which is also coincidentally the biggest reason for 2020 being so awful.
Whilst things seemed like they were getting better for a while after the first lockdown restrictions were lifted in the summer of this year, things have been gradually getting worse since. The second lockdown in November seems to have not done enough to keep the virus at bay, and the new Tier system in place from the 3rd of December doesn’t seem to be working as well as hoped either. The higher frequency of counties moving into higher Tiers instead of lower ones indicates that the lower Tiers just aren’t doing enough to contain the virus. The government has even had to create Tier 4 to impose even further restrictions as Tier 3 is not sufficient either.
On the 14th of December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced to the House of Commons that there had been a new mutation of Covid-19, with this variant being up to 70% more contagious. This has already spread throughout the South East and London, with Tier 4 measures being placed on millions in the lead up to Christmas and as of Boxing Day too, including Southampton.
The Covid-19 situation is not under control, and evidently will not be for a long time. The government’s continuous attempts this year to balance containing the virus and not shutting down the economy have failed, simply prolonging how long we will be in this mess for. Yes, there is hope in the arrival of vaccines, but it will take a very long time to make this widely available for everyone. Healthy students will be at the bottom of their list of vaccine priorities (rightly so, I might add). As far as getting back to a normal life goes for us, I can’t see it happening in 2021.
Then there’s America. Their response to Covid-19 has been abysmal from the start. They have not experienced a series of waves like the UK but one continuous tsunami of infections and death which continues to rise. Over 300,000 Americans have died of this virus so far, with no sign of it slowing or stopping. As long as a country as large and important as America continues failing to get a hold of this pandemic, it hinders the chances of the rest of the world to collectively recover too. We can hardly recuperate from this situation and just leave America behind as plague island.
Politically, January will be very charged for Americans, with the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden scheduled for the 20th of January. This most recent Presidential election has been very messy, with the incumbent President Trump still continuing to claim voter fraud and false results. As we move closer to the time when President Trump will be forced to leave, there is a sense of terrifying apprehension about what he would be prepared to do to stay in office. Furthermore, it is possible that Trump supporters could take to the streets with extreme violence to enforce his claim.
In our own country, Brexit is coming to a head. Whether you wanted it or not, this is just exceptionally bad timing to be cutting off trade relations and damaging our economy. The effects of continued financial strain will really start to be felt in 2021, as the furlough scheme needs to end eventually, and taxes must be raised to deal with the country’s unprecedented debt. Many businesses have already collapsed under the strain of this year, with many more sure to follow when government support is inevitably withdrawn. Again, Brexit, which we are expecting to have a severe effect on many British businesses, will be another kick in the teeth at a time that we really just can’t cope with it. But as long as we have control of our fish, I guess it’s all worth it…
Finally, as bad as 2020 has been, we just haven’t learned from it. People are still out there flouting restrictions, denying the virus’ existence, refusing to wear masks and saying that they won’t take the vaccine. In acts of ignorant xenophobia, people are still going around calling Covid the ‘China Virus’, seeking to put the blame on people and create fear. With poverty rising in this country and across the world, there are politicians like Jacob Rees-Mogg criticising UNICEF for stepping in and feeding children in poverty because the government can’t do it themselves. Most of all, despite the U-turns, continuous mistakes, delays, slip-ups and breaches of regulations from their own MPs, this government still doesn’t have any idea how to handle this pandemic.
I want 2021 to be better than 2020 as much as anyone else. But the world won’t be better just because we want it to be so. There is hope, and a lot of things to be thankful for, but we may need to strap ourselves in for another year of madness to come.