2020 has been a very strange year and as I’m only writing this in September you can see, as usual, I’m rather behind!
The origins of the pandemic Covid-19 are still uncertain though some scientists believe that it originated in bats and then jumped to humans via a pangolin intermediary – an animal I hadn’t even heard of before 2020! Pangolins are wild animals consumed mainly in China where their scales are used to treat various health problems and their meat is also highly prized for its supposed health benefits. The earliest known cases of this new coronavirus – Covid-19 were identified in China and were linked to a live animal market in Wuhun in December 2019. It spread from that first cluster in the capital of China’s Hubei province to a pandemic that has killed millions.
People in Britain were already becoming nervous of the situation and by 13th March the number of new cases in Europe had become greater than those in China – Europe was considered by WHO (the World Health Organisation) as the active centre of the Covid-19 pandemic but there was still no news about what Britain was intending to do to keep its population safe . . . shoppers began to panic buy. Below are the shelves in our local Waitrose on 16th March which I called into before going to work – not a loo roll to be found! The atmosphere was alarming and seeing an elderly woman in tears raised the emotions of everyone around . . . . the situation seemed to be spinning out of control. By 18th March more than 250 million people were in lockdown in Europe but generally life was nervously going on as usual in England!
After weeks of uncertainty in a televised announcement on 23rd March 2020 Boris Johnson our Prime Minister finally told the country that people ‘must’ stay at home and certain businesses must close – all unnecessary social contact should cease. People were only allowed to leave their homes for ‘very limited purposes’ such as shopping for necessities, one form of exercise a day or travelling to work if they could not work from home and banned gatherings of more than two people from different households in public. Non-essential shops were told to close, and social events including weddings were stopped. Johnson warned that the police could enforce the rules.
Many communities worked together to help those in need. We’re extremely lucky to be surrounded by great neighbours who quickly organised a WhatsApp group to ensure everyone could stay connected and those who were alone, shielding or needing help could easily ask for support – it’s been a really valuable way of supporting each other and has definitely brought out the kindness of everyone. Early on many people put soft toys in their windows so that young children could search for them as they went on their one walk a day around the block – it brought smiles to the adults too and we were very fortunate with the sunshine during the early months of lockdown.
Some families needed food and provisions brought to them and prescriptions collected and quickly neighbours stepped in to help.
A warning that the virus could be particularly dangerous to some households.
Overnight the streets emptied of cars – only essential trips were allowed. Usually a very busy road – not a vehicle in sight, the silence was bizarre.
Queues for supermarkets were the norm . . .
Luckily we could escape to local walks to enjoy the spring blooms and the noises of wildlife, usually hidden by the thundering roar of traffic, could be heard everywhere. One day we even saw a family of five Red Kites and on another walk we saw two Green Woodpeckers!
The daffodils looked so beautiful – at least we could enjoy them.
As a way of thanking NHS staff; carers and essential workers for working in such stressful and dangerous conditions we, along with the country as a whole, started its weekly Thursday 8pm clapping in thanks.
For some people this was their only contact with the outside world all week – though socially distanced of course!
There were inspiring messages to be seen in closed shop window or in pebbles left nearby.
It does bring home to you what’s important in life!
With social distancing the use of face masks and shields hopefully we can eventually return to a normality of types though it has taken a while for face masks to become the expected norm in shops etc.. From 15th June face coverings were required on public transport and in England’s shops from 24th July and by 8th August they became mandatory in more indoor settings with fines to ensure the rules are followed.
Trying to lighten the atmosphere though with an important message some local councils have issued posters like the one below!
With the damage to the economy there has been a big drive to encourage people back to restaurants with the Government’s ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme which gave diners 50% discount up to £10 per person from Monday to Wednesday throughout August . . . we finally made it out on the 31st August, the very last day of the scheme and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we tried out a great local Vietnamese restaurant near by called Thanh Binh, a family run traditional restaurant opposite Magdalene College in Cambridge – well worth a visit!
School life through this period has also changed for students and teachers alike . . . a very quick steep learning curve as everyone who could, got to grips with online learning and teaching . . . not so good for so many students without the ability to access such provision and without doubt there’s going to be a lot needed to be done to enable those disadvantaged in society to catch up. For many this period has been very tricky indeed . . .
Schools have reopened this autumn . . .though there are fears about a second wave of the virus as has been seen in some countries and the difficulties of managing these difficult practical considerations are inevitable
But on the bright side . . . friends will be reunited and education will be at the foremost of many parents and students alike let’s hope everyone keeps safe and well.