Monday 23rd March 2020
A very welcome day of respite. Last week was an 80+ hour work week, something that happens roughly every three weeks. Now I have two days off to complete life admin and recharge my batteries for the week ahead.
I am woken up around 06:30 by the cars driving over the cobbled streets outside my house. Our street, normally awash with cars, has been noticeably quieter these past few days.
I start with a dash to the supermarket. I call my parents, who I haven’t had a chance to speak to in a week or so. They are doing well. I urge them to stay indoors and away from others as much as possible, not just for their own safety but the safety of others. Civil duty, I call it.
The supermarkets are rationing essential items, only three of all of these items are allowed by any one individual. These include rice, pasta, bananas, cleaning products and toilet roll. Many of these items are out of stock given the mass panic buying that has ensued in recent days. I settle for an Israeli egg dish to make for dinner and luckily most of the obscure items have been safe from the chaotic purchasing patterns of consumers. Win.
Many supermarkets now have ‘silver hours’ for elderly and NHS staff. An hour dedicated to these groups to allow them to shop before the store open to the remainder of the population. This is a useful time for me to get some shopping in before the swathes of shoppers pick over the remanents on the shelves.
The day is mostly relaxation and recuperation. This is interspersed with a free meal from McDonald’s, a kind deal on offer today for NHS staff, and a feelgood movie or two.
Then comes the moment that breaks through the monotony and marks this seemingly ordinary day as much more extraordinary. The prime minister’s address to the nation explaining that we as a nation are in a ‘national emergency’ and are to lockdown for at least the next three weeks to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Citizens will be restricted to leaving their residence only to: shop for essentials such as food and medicine; attend medical appointments; go to work in essential industries and to leave once a day for exercise. All parties outdoors must be no bigger than groups of 2. This stark new reality is delivered at 20:30 by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, in a sombre manner.
These new measures will be backed by legislation later in the week allowing the police to enforce these rules with fines and potential criminal action if the new rules are not obeyed. This is our new reality for the foreseeable future. Containment via isolation.
As I reflect on the day, I feel a sense of relief as these new measures will help to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus within the UK. A plague that has terrorised global society during 2020 and has already caused a great deal of morbidity and mortality. Yet I am saddened by our loss of liberty and freedom of movement. These are virtues that underpin our democracy and thus it feels as if the virus is attacking not just individuals but the social constructs that we value in our society. The very thing I have been calling for in the past few days, greater restriction of the movement of people to reduce the impact of the virus is now here and it is bitter sweet.
Tomorrow, I will examine some of the medical literature surrounding the virus and attempt to translate the current literature for the layman. Both for my own understanding and for any others who may be reading these entries.
Before then, another sleep before the routine of being woken up by the cars on the cobblestones outside my residence to signal a new day and a new way of life.