As lockdown 2: day 1 begins, there is an ominous sense of déjà vu.
I walked into York city centre at lunchtime and it was quiet. Like a Christmas morning or a Sunday before shops were permitted to open on the sabbath (remember that hoo-ha?).
Parliament Street, Pavement, Coney Street and Lendal were almost deserted.
It took me right back to the early days of the first lockdown. Back in March, when an eerie silence descended on York’s streets.
Normally you need your elbows at the ready to navigate York’s crowded centre, packed with tourists year-round.
But not today. And not for the next few weeks as we follow government advice to ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’.
Lockdown 2: Day 1 – same but different
So here were again. But not quite. There are a few things about this lockdown that make it slightly less depressing than the first
- Exit date: December 2 is the date we are supposed to come out of this second lockdown. That may need to be extended. But the fact there is a concrete date to look forward to makes this time around feel more manageable. A light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
- You can have a plus-one: Again, different to the first lockdown. In version 2.0 we are allowed to meet a buddy for a walk or a catch-up, as long as it is outside. This is a real lifeline to many people, not just those who live alone. My diary is already filling up with ‘walking dates’ with friends. It began today with a hook-up with my mate A, who I met with at lunchtime. We grabbed a snack from Shambles Market (the food court is open) and bought take-out coffee and cake from Spring Espresso on Lendal. We pledged to meet every week.
And there’s more…
- Bubbles are go: People can also form a support bubble – which is vital especially if you are in a single household. We will have one with my father in law, who lives in the North York Moors.
- Schools, universities and colleges remain open.
- Furlough is extended to March: I was surprised at this announcement today. But it has to be good news for so many people whose jobs are at risk under these extended lockdowns. There is extra support for the self employed too. But there are a whole swathe of freelancers and other workers who have fallen through the cracks. Can the government do more to help them? I hope so.
- Food and drink to go: It was great to be in town today and be able to buy food and drink (and flowers – the stall at Newgate Market is open). My worry is that if footfall is reduced, can these traders viably stay open?
- There are more treatments available to treat patients, and a vaccine is looking promising, perhaps by Christmas.
Lockdown 2: Day 1 – sadly necessary
When Boris announced last Saturday we were to go into lockdown again it was no surprise. With coronavirus cases rocketing across the country, death rates rising, and the NHS on the brink of being overwhelmed, the government had little alternative.
But lockdown 2 was not inevitable. There is a strong sense that the government squandered the rewards earned from our first, much harder lockdown.
As we stayed home this spring to protect the NHS and save lives and bring Covid infections under control – people gave up on seeing friends and family, attending weddings and even funerals.
The economic cost was eye-watering. The toll on people’s mental health probably immeasurable. But we did it to buy the government some time. Not just to save the NHS, but to get a “world-class” track and trace system in place, which we knew we would need to cope with an inevitable second wave.
The failure of our track and trace system is a matter of record. The reasons behind the failure will hopefully be explored in the inevitable inquiry into the government’s handling of this pandemic.
Local councils are now running the scheme and in York at least it is proving a big success.
This isn’t a case of witchhunting. We need to have a forensic look back at how this crisis has been handled and learn from the many mistakes.
Lockdown 2: Day 1 – getting through
Today is the first day of a week’s holiday. I had been hoping to go to Scotland to see my sister and mum who both live by themselves.
That will have to wait until the lockdown is over – I have three more weeks’ leave in December. I am hoping my daughter will be “released” from her university in Sheffield in December too and we can visit together.
It will be important to stay active and get outdoors during this lockdown. It is helpful we can meet one other person outside: an incentive to us to get out and have a walk/jog/cycle.
Like many people, I am now working from home. It is all too easy to work all day and not leave the house. But since autumn has arrived and the nights are drawing in, I am trying my hardest to take a break at lunchtime to get out and get some fresh air and some sunshine (it there is any going).
Helpfully our editor at The Press emailed staff today to encourage us to take an extended break at lunchtime if we wanted to in order to make the most of the day light and make up our hours later.
Such flexibility is welcome. Not all employers can perhaps offer this, but if they can, why not do it?
Lockdown 2: Lessons I’ve learned
As we head into another lockdown, I know I will do some things differently this time.
- I won’t be washing my groceries.
- Hopefully, I will see more friends, but within the guidelines.
- After Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham, if I need to make an emergency journey ie to see a family member I won’t feel guilty.
- If Joe Wicks comes back on the box, I will give it a miss. I prefer yoga anyway!
Facts of the day
Cases worldwide: 48, 334, 880
Deaths worldwide: 1,228,672
Cases UK: 1,099,059 (Nov 4th)
Deaths UK: 47,742 (Nov 4th)
Italy reports 445 new deaths, the highest daily toll since April 23.
In the USA, as the world awaits the result of the Presidential election, 23 states have reached a record number of coronavirus cases in the past week.
56 million people in England enter the second round of lockdown restrictions as government figures reveal 492 people died of the disease on November 4 and 25, 177 new infections were recorded.
There have been three further deaths related to Covid-19 recorded at hospitals in the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The latest data from NHS England shows that the total number of Covid deaths within the trust now stands at 237. Two of the three further deaths were recorded at York Hospital and one at Scarborough.
York’s director of public health Sharon Stoltz says coronavirus cases in York are falling such that they city should be able to enter tier one of Coronavirus restrictions once lockdown 2 is over.
*Coronavirus facts and figures from The Guardian’s ‘At A Glance’ daily reports, Johns Hopkins University; gov.uk, New Yor Times, and The Press, York