Life will be different after lockdown - GulfToday

Life will be different after lockdown


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

Lucie McInerney, The Independent

The last six weeks have both slipped by in the blink of an eye and dragged on for an eternity.

For those of us fortunate enough to endure life in lockdown without illness or serious threats to our safety, this “new normal” still has its pluses and its minuses.

No wedging oneself onto a rush-hour train for a twice-daily commute? Plus. No glasses of rose in a pub garden enjoying the sunshine with friends? Minus.

But while I am champing at the bit to see my friends and hug the absolute living daylights out of my parents, the idea of stepping one foot out of my front door brings on a panic that can only be described as ridiculous. My personal pandemic panic set in around the middle of March as we watched Italy struggle to cope with their outbreak. It was a matter of when, not if, the same would happen here. Fear of the unknown led to anxiety about what was about to come.

It has since subsided as we have all adjusted to the new normal but as we are still without a vaccine or a universally agreed strategy on how any country can and should exit a lockdown, a new kind of worry has developed: what if there’s a second spike? And given that more and more people think the Boris Johnson’s British government imposed a lockdown too late, how can we be sure that they’ll get the strategy for lifting the lockdown right?

It makes absolutely no sense to me that none of this concern dispels my ever-increasing impatience to get back out there. Well, as long as “get back out there” is limited to seeing my friends and family. Even then, I’d be a bit wary of socialising with them anywhere — a garden or a park, truth be told. And I can do without large gatherings of any kind — particularly if they’re indoors — thank you very much.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. A poll conducted by Ipsos Mori discovered that more than two-thirds of us are “uncomfortable” about going to large gatherings, while 60 per cent are uneasy at the thought of going to restaurants and using public transport if the lockdown were to lift in the next month. Sir David Spiegelhalter, who carries the currently-very-appropriate title of professor of the public understanding of risk, even expressed concern that the government’s message to stay home may have been slightly too successful. He made the point that while we are still (at the very least) weeks away from lockdown lifting, once restrictions are eased, there remains a serious challenge in turning the tide of public opinion back towards a feeling of safety when it comes to leaving their homes.

 Three-fifths of those surveyed are comfortable with the idea of meeting friends and family outside of those we live with. As opposed to familiarity breeding contempt, when meeting those we know well, we feel more confident that we are safe — we know where these people work and whether it means they re likely to have come into contact with others who might be sick. So there’s a sense of they’ve taken the rules seriously, as have I.

Meeting friends and family doesn’t feel as risky as going to a restaurant or getting on the bus surrounded by different groups of people who could be averse to hand washing and licking supermarket shelves for all we know.

If you yearn for a drink or a meal that you’d usually enjoy in a restaurant, you can learn to make your own cocktails or buy a meal kit from one of the many eateries offering the opportunity to make their signature dishes at home. As nowhere is open and so many of us are working from home, the need to travel on public transport is severely reduced so we just don’t have to do it.

However, being physically close to those you love cannot be substituted for anything else. Sure, you can jump on a Zoom call for a catch up — but it’s not the same. My friends and I all talk at the same time at varying degrees of volume all at once (it’s madness, but it works for us) and so the tendency for video conferencing platforms to prioritise one speaker’s microphone over another makes for stilted, unnatural conversations.

This state of hibernation might be natural for bears a couple of months a year, but for humans, we need physical interaction, particularly with those dearest to us. So it makes sense that the option of meeting friends and family polled as the post-lockdown option we are most at ease with.

For now, as we stay home and protect the NHS, let s focus on the incredible rush we re going to get when we can hug the absolute living daylights out of our loved ones once again.

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