Britain in Lockdown – Day 2

It’s all about the numbers. Yesterday, during Day 1 of lockdown we were told that there had been a sharp rise in deaths in the UK but Italy had seen its second consecutive day in which the number of deaths declined. It’s too early to tell but perhaps the impact has peaked in Italy. Nevertheless, nearly 7,000 people have died there already.

The death total in the UK has reached 422 but the pattern is very similar to Italy’s, so if lockdown doesn’t work or is ignored by enough people then we can expect thousands dead in the UK within a fortnight.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the Excel exhiibtion centre in London would be transformed into a field hospital with space for 4,000 beds. He also launched a scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS. Anyone stepping forward can expect to be delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to appointments and bringing them home again, or simply phoning people to check on their condition. Another 35,000 additional workers made up of retired and student medical staff have already signed up

Deaths and infections from Covid-19 24th March 2020
Deaths and infections from Covid-19 24th March 2020

Who’s Allowed Out?

The lockdown rules have left lots of grey areas open to interpretation. The TV and radio chat shows are full of people discussing what constitutes an essential worker and how to answer questions from the public about their particular circumstances.

This was inevitable with such a quickly drawn together plan for the activities of 65-70 million people. I doubt anyone really knows exactly how many people there are in the UK. For example, recently there has been mention of 1 million ‘undocumented migrants’ – the new euphemism for illegal immigrants. When you consider the living conditions of many in the cities it’s not hard to imagine how difficult it must be to adhere to the standards of hygiene and social distancing that are expected of us all.

Presumably this was all discussed during the government’s COBRA meetings and they came up with a plan that might slow the spread of infection but with no realistic hope of stopping it. One can only wonder what percentage they came up with and what the real trajectory looks like.

Yesterday there were full trains on the London Underground. Some of the passengers were essential workers but many others were construction workers. Due to drastically reduced demand Transport for London has been running a skeleton service, so those people still travelling to work have been squeezed into the remaining trains, making a mockery of the whole social distancing idea.

So on the one hand there are people queuing 6ft apart at supermarkets and petrol stations while on the Tube people are packed together like sardines. The streets are nearly deserted and the Police are patrolling, breaking up groups of more than two people.

How People Are Coping

Thankfully most of the UK is enjoying clear blue skies with little wind, so for the second day of lockdown we have woken to stillness and the promise of a warm spring day. The absence of aircraft in the skies and the greatly reduced road traffic has created an odd sensation. It’s as if life is on pause, which I suppose it is.

It’s far too early to determine how people are going to cope. So far, the novelty factor hasn’t worn off. There’s a strong sense of ‘we’re in this together’ as people share stories of home schooling, exercising, or cooking with ‘whatever’s in the cupboard’.

Many are using social media to express themselves in a variety of memes and videos. I wonder how long that sense of humour will last. Probably as long as there’s food in the fridge and toilet rolls in the bathroom.

Our local shops still have plenty of food but lots of empty shelves too. As long as people don’t hoard and buy only what they need then we should all be fine, but it varies from place to place.

There are still hundreds of British citizens abroad trying to get home amidst all the flight disruptions and lockdowns.

There has been some vandalism of food delivery vehicles and ambulances. Some thugs who were asked to disperse spat and coughed at the Police officers. Contrast these people with the NHS workers who spend long shifts caring for other people only to find there are no fresh vegetables or fruit when the drop in to the supermarket on their way home.

I Will Survive Lockdown Video