Back in the spring I heard a phrase on the news that I thought was valid. It was reported that one of the reasons the timing of social distancing restrictions was delayed in the spring was due to COMPLIANCE. How long would people cooperate with and obey what was being asked of them?
I can only relate what I have seen here in England, and the rest of UK. Now I know there have been a minority who were always going to do their own thing. They seem to think the virus is a hoax and that all the measures being taken are ridiculous. Why they think the government would try to cripple the economy if this was a hoax – I am not sure.
However, on the whole, the majority of people in this country did comply with social distancing requirements in the spring. Most people did what they were asked to, and I don’t think we should ever take that for granted. Most people were unselfish, self-sacrificing and creative in finding new ways to keep their spirits up despite the change in their routines and the restrictions on their freedoms. People knew this was serious and they wanted to do their part to make a difference. And they did!!!! It was very impressive and it made a big difference.
During the summer months, restrictions were lifted. For some people life seemed to become more like their normal way of life. Seven months later and now in response to rising numbers of infections and hospital admissions, the government are once again bringing in restrictions. So far, they have been trying to do that in a more targeted, localised fashion.
Half of my family live in Wales. They are going into a full lockdown from Friday for a whole fortnight. But they are ready to cooperate with what is asked of them, as they have done all year.
If you have been watching the UK news, you may be aware that in some areas there does not seem the same level of cooperation as there was back in the spring.
Now it is not my desire to call judgement on that. I work in the NHS, so I am mindful of the damage to physical health, but I am also very aware of how mental health is being stretched.
The concern over people’s livelihoods is a valid one and I am not willing to wade into a very sensitive situation. For those who are hard pressed economically or in debt, anxiety and stress can be a huge threat to mental and physical health. So I don’t think it can be ignored that after already losing income throughout 2020, some are extremely concerned about the prospect of their income suffering even more.
I am more worried about the conversations I have had with some of my patients and friends here in London. I have heard some strange things of late. Some are extreme. There is one patient who I dread seeing because he is so disdainful of everything to do with this virus. He insists it is a hoax, he accuses the government of all sorts of crimes (I am not a fan of politicians but I think this patient us unbalanced in his outlook) and he has gone so far as trying to physically remove our PPE and deliberately coughing to make it clear how he feels about the measures people are taking to protect themselves and other. I wish we could ban him from coming anywhere near us. But generally I prefer to deal with him speedily and efficiently so he can leave us and the rest of our patients in peace.
But then there are those who have just had enough it would seem of limitations being put on their social lives. Someone told me the other day that they had plans to go out for meals in restaurants pretty much every day the following week with different friends and family. They told me they would tell the restaurant that they were living in the same household – in other words, they were going to lie in order to be able to socialize freely with whoever they wanted. Right.
I totally understand anxiety over income and why that would make people feel the restrictions placed in certain areas are a further threat to their livelihood. I understand and empathise and I know that there is no easy answer to that issue. But I struggle to be as sympathetic with those who are willing to lie so that they can socialise with whoever they want That is not something I can approve of. The whole idea of a social bubble was to help life be bearable for those who are isolated. So get in a social bubble and stay in it. Claiming to a restaurant that you are in a social bubble with your fellow diner in regards to a dozen different friends is showing disregard for the tremendous sacrifices many are making.
When this person told me their intention I gave them a little food for thought. I mentioned that I had been reading a lot of posts from Canadian bloggers who reported being on their own for Canadian Thanksgiving for the first time in their lives. I asked this person, how do you think people in England would feel if they found themselves alone for Christmas for the first time in their lives?
This issue of compliance is a worry. I think the government do want to keep children and students in education. I think the government do want to keep most businesses open. So that leaves them with the activities that are classified as more under the umbrella of recreational or social, where they can bring in restrictions. The more people take liberties, lie about their social bubbles, just do whatever they want and try to find loopholes to justify their actions, well….everyone is going to pay for that.
Above all – whether you are working or playing – remember that the most effective measures we can take are:
- WASH YOUR HANDS
- DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE
- SELF-ISOLATE IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS
and if the authorities where you live ask you to then please
- WEAR A FACEMASK
- COOPERATE WITH THE RESTRICTIONS ON SOCIALISING
- KEEP A DISTANCE FROM OTHERS
This is all temporary. It’s hard but it’s temporary. When you are in the midst of a challenge, a trial, you may well wonder, “when will this end?” But when the hardship has ended you appreciate more than ever what really matters and hopefully you will have learnt to develop strong qualities.
If you are struggling emotionally with the strangeness of this year, please be assured that is perfectly understandable. There is nothing wrong with you! These are challenging times and admitting that you are overwhelmed, or dealing with increasing anxiety is normal. But disregarding the measures being taken and deciding you are going to socialize with whoever you want to keep your spirits up is likely to upset others. Do keep talking though. Phone, email, blogging – it’s a good idea to keep in touch with those who seem balanced and practical when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges. Being completely alone with your worries can put you at risk. So connect, but connect with people who are responsible and wholesome.