I’m trying not to write every time something happens during lockdown but, here I go again.
London and the South East are now consigned (or condemned?) to Tier 4. Thanks to rising COVID cases across the region and a ‘new variant’ of the virus running amok in the region, all non-essential shops are now closed (excluding supermarkets). Gyms, leisure centres, hairdressers and beauty salons are shut once more. The only social interaction you can have is with one person outside your household and you can forget about Christmas, because you can only be around the people you live with.
Places of worship are to remain open, which is a bit ironic considering the government have literally cancelled Christmas.
For the last nine months, people have been going stir crazy from staying indoors for so long – with a brief break of freedom in late summer. Working from home, baking endless banana breads and counting the days until normality comes around again and there is no real care or regard for the mental wellbeing of people from our government. When all this is over, they had better throw serious amounts of money at providing mental health facilities because everyone – young and old, black and white – is going to need access to them.
Christmas was the one time people thought there would be some respite. I noticed that the media recently published a number of feelgood news stories: the creation of the vaccine; the administering of the vaccine and the R rate going down, culminating in the announcement of relaxing of the rules from the 23rd to 27th December, as if COVID is out of office during the festive period. Then, fully aware that people had booked their tickets and were preparing to travel, they pulled the rug from under their feet and said, ‘It’s not happening. Sorry for the inconvenience.’
Much as I’m going nowhere this Christmas, countless experts told the Prime Minister to review and revoke his Christmas relaxation plan, but he waited and waited until Saturday evening to scrap everything. Did you hear how Boris said ‘Tier 4 starts from midnight on Sunday’ so casually? I thought I misheard him because it sounded like a throwaway remark, then I quickly realised the magnitude of it.
How can you give millions of people a window of less than eight hours to pack their shit and get the hell out of Dodge (currently known as London)? So many live away from their nearest and dearest and want to be with them at this time of year. They have been forced to stay away and the majority have followed the rules, so to dangle a carrot in front of their faces and snatch it away and expect them to just accept it was never going to happen. Also, what about those who live in other parts of the country and want to come in to London for Christmas? It’s such a mess.
The government were better off telling everyone a few weeks ago that Christmas is cancelled, rather than providing a false dawn. The now-defunct rule relaxation encouraged people to buy train and bus tickets in advance; now those people are out of pocket and out of time, struggling to get home for Christmas.
Social media had footage of crowds at train stations trying to get home before their carriage turned into a metaphorical pumpkin. Professor Chris Whitty told Londoners to “unpack and stay home” but a lot of them refused to listen and had enough of seeing their plans dashed by a government who think they can drop everything at the very last minute. Surely Whitty, Boris and the rest must have known that people would take matters into their own hands. We know the government do not like the public going rogue (see when the Education Secretary ordered schools not to close early for Christmas under threat of legal action, even though they had a few days left and that was mainly to hold Christmas parties), yet that taxing time frame had Londoners throwing all they needed into their suitcases with one aim: to get out of London before midnight.
They encouraged them to get ready to spend Christmas with their loved ones, despite the rising infection rates, then took away the opportunity (and choice) with the shortest of short notice.
This could have prevented if a lockdown was imposed a few weeks ago. Or better yet, when London and the South East moved into Tier 3 last Wednesday, non-essential shops should not have been allowed to stay open. But they did because of money. So what was the point? It defeated the main objective of implementing it, especially as there was no leeway when areas in the North East and North West were forced into the same Tier.
Anyway, I’m hoping that everyone manages to make the best of this shambles and stays safe over Christmas and the new year. ❤