Lamenting Lockdown – Labour Article
It is just over a year since the UK started its first lockdown in March 2020. I recall driving through the streets on that Friday evening when all the pubs, clubs and restaurants were officially shut down. That marked the beginning of the first lockdown. Witnessing empty streets that would normally be crowded every Friday evening, it seemed as if a bleak “winter” was upon us and it was going to stay for quite some time.
The beginning of Corona hit the world like a giant tsunami wave. All one would hear in the news was about the rising death toll and the catastrophic situation around the world. For a moment, it felt that we were all a part of some real-life catastrophic movie. All one would observe were closed markets, empty streets, empty shelves in the convenience stores, with little staff around and hardly any person shopping. The giant factory of the world had come to a halt.
For months, people stayed in their homes, keeping the doors shut, fearing corona like it was an old hag roaming in the streets, waiting to hunt down its prey. Washing hands, social distancing and wearing a mask became the spell to keep the witch away.
Starting with the fear of the unknown, people slowly understood the reality of corona and started to adapt to it. Lockdown slowly gained popularity as the new way of life which, on one hand, abstained people from meeting each other. But on the other hand, it raised the sense of neighbourhood and living beyond just the regular work-based busy life.
But soon, the charm of this new adventure ended. Staying at home all the time slowly developed frustration. Domestic violence increased and people generally became agitated to step out and breathe fresh air.
The frustration rose so much that as soon as summer started, despite an official lockdown, famous beaches started getting crowded with people travelling from all over the UK. The government, however, was determined to do every effort possible to maintain both physical and mental well being. From mid-June 2020, with some reduction in the rapidly growing rate of covid deaths, the restrictions of lockdown were gradually eased to comfort people and the economy. But the government ensured that personal protection equipment (PPE) was applied in all public places to avoid covid.
As the winter approached and yet no sign of the vaccine, the covid cases started increasing. The UK had been hit by the second wave of corona. Christmas was around the corner. But due to the devastating condition of the pandemic, the Prime Minister announced a second lockdown from 5 November in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus ahead of Christmas and New year. After the short and relatively cold celebration of the New year, the country was again put under a strict lockdown in January 2021. The second wave had hit the country with maximum impact.
The danger was still present and could not be overlooked. Like the rest of the world, the UK had all eyes on the health organizations, waiting for the development of vaccines. It was initially predicted that it would take a year to develop any covid vaccine. And so before the end of 2020, due to the restless efforts of the government and the healthcare system, the United kingdom trialled and approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The systematized vaccination of people is now going on. Because of the relief of vaccination and a year of tackling covid, people have adapted to the situation. Social distancing and face covering are normalized. People are still in lockdown, but the psychological impact of covid has weakened, as people have learnt to live with it. The government has also started to ease the restrictions, along with ensuring the rapid vaccination of the people.
The impact of covid is ongoing. People are still getting infected, and covid related deaths are still happening. Even though the whole country is set to be vaccinated by the end of this year, the damage of covid will go on for a lifetime. Covid has changed the whole world. Life will not be the same as it once used to be. Travelling, meeting with people, jobs, shopping and the government’s policies; everything would be different. This whole period has given us a break to look at, and analyse ourselves. The human race is a fast learner, and we learn from our mistakes. Hence, there is no doubt that humanity will once again thrive.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Shamamah Dogar
Point of Information
A year of lockdown lessons we shouldn’t forget – A Liberal Response
One of the biggest lessons of this pandemic is something so indiscriminate can easily exacerbate existing inequalities. The highest death rates have been in the most deprived areas and for ethnic minorities. Decades of decline in the northern regions has resulted in towns having entire generations lost. The effects of this disease, which has impacted us all, have not been uniform.
Millions of workers – whether doctors, nurses, janitors, shelf stackers, delivery drivers, and many more – have been out risking their lives to provide the goods and services we all take for granted. We owe them an extreme debt. Not only because the majority of them are severely underpaid and underappreciated, but because they stepped up so we could stay home.
The cracks in the British state have been widened too. The understaffed and overworked NHS is limping towards the backlog of postponed appointments. Staff are exhausted, their mental health in tatters and, yet, their calls for increased wages and better working conditions ignored. The welfare system has been bolstered throughout the pandemic, but without the attention of celebrity footballers, how many children would have gone hungry? How many others, who lacked this kind of attention, have suffered?
The world reckoned with another pandemic, racism. The murder of George Floyd, and more recently the murder of predominantly Asian Americans in Atlanta, has brought the race back to the forefront of public consciousness. In response, marches and rallies decried historic and institutional injustice. And a group of white nationalists and conspiracy theorists stormed the seat of the world’s most prominent democracy, days before its new leader, and first female, first African American and first South Asian American vice president, took their oaths.
As the vaccines leave the laboratories and into our arms, and the world opens up, it will be easy for some to push the past 12 months out of mind and return to ‘normal’. Or at least try to forget the hard moments. It is true that a lot of good was in the darkness that was the past year. Passions were rekindled in everyone’s spare time. We also have been able to develop, produce and administer millions of vaccines for a virus that didn’t exist 12 months prior is a testament to human ingenuity.
Sadly, the world we live in has been changed significantly over these last 12 months. We should not forget all that we have learnt. The pandemic may, one day, be over. But its effects will outlive it several times over.
Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Daniel Jones
Fingers Crossed for a Long Goodbye – A Conservative Response
I do like that last line: “there is no doubt that humanity will once again thrive”.
Humans are amazing at adaptation. Remarkable, even. This has been ever-present throughout the pandemic because we haven’t had much choice. Adapting our patterns of work, socialising, and exercise, has not been a walk in the park.
Humans are also very social animals. We thrive in communities — loneliness literally kills us — so the removal of the lockdown will be the removal of considerable psychological weight. With the dropping of this burden, I am sure that we will do as Shamamah mentioned: “thrive”.
I hope beyond hope, that this is the last lockdown. I would much rather that our releasing take longer, and be final than be rushed, and not. On this score, we do have the vaccine in our corner.
Our withdrawal will not be all smiles, however. The retraction of the various waves of Covid will lay bare some skeletons: unemployment, mental health issues, PTSD of those on the front line, and the rising levels of abuse of various forms, to name but a few.
The release of lockdown will not be a complete fiesta. We will need to tackle the problems caused by the past year; however, at last (hopefully!), we will not be so massively hindered in our doing so.
All of the failures and successes need to be learned from, and a game-plan for pandemics developed. There will be more in the coming decades and centuries.
As for this one, let’s hope that today is the start of a long goodbye to Covid-19.
Written by Chief of Conservatives, Alexander Dennis
I’m a queer loving feminist liberal, enough to make a hard-line conservative have an aneurism. I have been forced to this position having grown up witnessing and experiencing injustice first-hand. Politics sort of came to me, which it does if you are anything but a cis-white-heterosexual man. My life and the way I wanted to live it was unavoidably political, so I may as well get involved.
Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.