After days of speculation, the fact we’re now finally in this situation was a bit of a relief. All we’ve got to do now is work out exactly what ‘lockdown’ means in practise as it’s fiendishly difficult to implement in a developed country as there’s always going to be exceptions, muddles and ambiguities – and so it’s proved. Many people have been asking simple questions such as “can I still get my car MOT’d”? Others have asked if – as it’s OK to get outdoor exercise – can they not drive outside a crowded city for a few minutes to walk in the great outdoors free of the suburban masses? Plus, the self-employed and freelancers like myself still don’t know where we stand, only that advice is ‘on its way’…
To be honest, this was always going to be the case and I’m not going to criticise the Government for not having all the answers to everything straight away. I notice that they revised and watered down their statement that only ‘key’ workers should go to work within a couple of hours as it was obvious they couldn’t define what the definition of ‘key’ was. It’s going to take a few days for all these things to become clearer. But – the advice is obviously having an effect already. To be honest, trying to enforce a total lockdown would be a logistical and policing nightmare. We don’t have the same sort of paramilitary police or the sheer numbers of officers that countries like France do – especially after 12 years of austerity.
So, day 1 has felt rather weird in that our routine hasn’t really changed at all. The pair of us have been busy working at home, it was only in the mid afternoon that we took a break. As the weather was sunny and warm we decided to combine an afternoon constitutional with a walk to the supermarket, meaning we only had to leave the house once and we didn’t need to use the car.
We passed several people on our roundabout way to the supermarket, all of whom were sticking to the guidelines on keeping their distance. After walking through Scarr Woods up to the promenade (which was pretty much free of promenaders) we bumped into a trio of people we knew and stopped for a chat. Anyone who didn’t know what was going on would have though we were weird as the five of us formed a circle at the requisite distance – even though four of us were couples!
Heading across Savile Park we strolled on to Tesco’s. The lockdown meant it was the quietest we’ve experienced since the shit started to hit the fan. Even better – there was still stuff left on the shelves! We managed to get the fresh vegetables we’d run short of, as well as coffee – which I was perilously low on. New restrictions had been added to the amount of alcohol you could buy (3 bottles each) so there was still a few decent beers available for me to buy. Tesco staff were doing their best to get people to stick to the 2 metres apart rule and to be fair, so were most customers. There’s always one or two who’re either too dim or too self-absorbed for such simple things to sink in, but that’s life. The groceries we managed to pick up mean we can avoid shops for several days now. We have the fresh ingredients we need to cook and eat well.
Being allowed to get out for exercise does make a huge difference as we feared we’d be trapped indoors for the duration (although if the fcukwits carry on the way they are and the infection rate skyrockets that could still happen). We’re better placed than many to cope as we have exercise equipment (weights etc) at home. Whatever happens we’re determined not to turn into couch potato’s. People are likely to go one of two ways, lose weight because they can’t go to the pub/takeaway as often so see it as a chance to get healthier – or go the opposite and binge on processed food and snacks as they confine themselves to the settee in front of the TV. The next few months are going to be an interesting sociological experiment. Only time will tell…
It’s not all been doom and gloom. It’s very early days yet, but the FTSE has gained 9% today. Is this the start of a financial recovery? Who knows, but it’s encouraging to see the rise which makes a change from the kamikaze trend we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Not that we’re anyway near out of the woods yet. The infection rate and death toll is only going to get worse. The $50,000 question is – when will it peak and start to fall back? We’re not going to know the answer to that for some time yet, but if I was a betting man, I’d certainly have money on the lockdown lasting longer than the 3 weeks the Government’s talking about right now.