By Escher Walcott
Since the middle of March this year, London has completely transformed into a quarantined city. From being a place once home to the Olympics and bustling with visitors from all corners of the globe, this thriving city in which I was raised, is now weirdly still.
Early on Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference urging the country to avoid elderly relatives so as not to possibly infect them. By March 19th, Coronavirus took a massive toll over Europe (with Italy being hit the hardest at this point). COVID-19 had now reached London’s borders with the death rate risen to 137. Bars, pubs, and clubs were closing down by the weekend, along with schools, with all exams canceled.
I feel particularly sorry for students at this time. Especially those who are missing out on the memories of their last academic years. Uni students who have moved to a new city have also been uprooted and robbed of their college experience.
The government has restricted certain transportation routes, having fewer underground lines and fewer buses on the road. This has led to more packed carriages unhelpfully. It’s been urged by Boris Johnson that only vital workers travel to work, while everyone else has been advised to stay at home. I still hear construction workers outside my house drilling away though confusingly. Not really essential, right? Around this time my local supermarket looked like a scene out of an apocalypse movie. To my disbelief, most shelves were cleared out. The place bustled with panicked shoppers which at first was amusing, but now affected me getting a loaf of bread, which was annoying.
On March 21st, the reality of the ‘new normal’ truly hit me. McDonald’s officially announced it would close down on in order to protect its staff. Sad as its sounds, my heart literally dropped hearing this news as I knew other chains would soon follow. Sure enough, all coffee shops including Costa and Starbucks, and all restaurants shutdown days later, leaving very few food delivery services available. Where will I get my fast food fix now? If I knew a month ago eating McDonald’s would be my last time in a while, I would have cherished it way more!
On the evening of March 23rd, Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown in the UK. Personally, I thought the Prime Minister’s approach had been too unimposing before now, giving only stern ‘warnings’ not instructions, so I was happy with this outcome as an effort to try and prevent this virus from spreading widely. Parks are still open nationwide and the public is allowed 1 hour of outdoor exercise, although I’ve seen people abuse this having picnics and hangouts. Recently, the police have enforced stricter supervisions to prevent this which is definitely needed. Our supermarkets have also become impressively regulated, with spaced out queues forming outside stores and taped spots inside showing where shoppers must wait in line to pay for their groceries.
By early April, London matched Italy becoming one of the worst affected European countries with death rates reaching peaks in the 900s. This has given me more momentum to stay at home and help protect not only my family but the NHS. This adjustment will help relive staff of pressure in treating mass numbers of COVID-19 patients. I am currently isolating at home with my family. My mother is a GP. She is working from home treating patients over the phone as best she can. Every Thursday, households throughout the UK clap for the NHS and all they have done during this pandemic, raising spirits for a few minutes during this bleak time.
“I find myself in a surprising state of calmness living in this new normal.”
I clap for my mum and all the staff that continue to help us make it through this. Applauding NHS workers is important. I hope that the country and the British government remember their efforts.
I have found a surprising state of calmness living in this new normal. Despite the unsettling circumstances, I’ve found much joy in my creative practices. Writing and shooting content for my blog, has given me much joy, inspiring me, and giving me hope for the new normal when we emerge once again.