These last few days have been filled with lazy hours sunbathing, barbecue smells – and waiting for a decision from the government. Will lockdown continue or start to be lifted? Will health or wealth win the national argument? Sunday, it is forecast the weather will change and Britain will be plunged into Arctic cold, and the Prime Minister will address the nation with the answer.
With as many Britons killed by Covid-19 as by the Blitz – more than 31,000 deaths, the highest number in Europe, the voices urging restraint for the sake of saving lives are full of dread at the consequences of lifting restrictions too quickly. But, in much of the rabble-rousing press at least, louder voices are demanding liberation.
We’re all bored and tired of lockdown. In our house I’ve given up trying to persuade anyone to get up or go to bed at anything resembling normal hours. It’s like trying to control a tide of why-bother? My enthusiasm for cooking and baking has waned, not helped by both the bread-maker and food processor packing up.
Outside, there seem to be more cars on the roads; the high road is busy with shoppers and the local parks crammed, police saying they are losing the battle to stop people sitting around in the sunshine. With contradictory messages coming from press and official briefings, and the government itself signaling a change in policy is coming, the social cohesion around the simple message of ‘stay home’ is already unravelling.
A survey of 19-24-year-olds found a quarter of young women and half of young men had already broken lockdown rules to go out and meet friends. At yesterday’s supposedly socially distanced street party to celebrate VE Day, a neighbour came up to me and shook my hand. I was too shocked – and a little too drunk – to resist.
The loudest voices for liberation from lockdown are, of course, the businesses most affected, such as bars and hotels. I understand only too well the economic impact of a lengthy lockdown. My own yoga business needs at least clarity. All my face-to-face teaching stopped two months ago. I’ve already cancelled one retreat this year and have refunded my clients, but I am out of pocket, still waiting for a refund from the venue I’d booked. I have three more retreats planned this year – with thousands of pounds spent on venue deposits, that I can’t be sure of getting back. If yoga retreats are ruled out for the rest of this year, I will make a loss – even with the new income stream I’ve created from teaching yoga online.
But I don’t want lockdown lifted yet. It’s too soon and it will result in more deaths. Fellow yoga teacher Mahesh Dhokia, owner of Maitri Natural Health Centre on Streatham High Road, was among those who died of Covid-19 this week. This virus is still highly infectious; there is still no vaccine or cure; it still kills people before their time.
If in Sunday’s statement to the nation, the Prime Minister announces any kind of relaxing of the guidelines, it doesn’t mean we won’t get Coronavirus – it just means there’s more space now available for us in intensive care when we do get it.