I thought it might be interesting to write out some of the words, phrases and behaviours that have become our new normal during the pandemic. Also some of the people and organisations who have become household names, and some of the other things that have arisen as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown, as I think of them.
- began on 23rd March 2020 with the instructions to stay at home other than for a limited set of reasons. Shops and many service industries were told to close. Unnecessary travel was banned. We were not allowed to visit friends or family or meet with anyone outside of our households.
- for some, the basic Lockdown restrictions were not enough to ensure their safety, and they were advised to stay within their own home. This included those considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable.
- the act of keeping a minimum of 2m distance between yourself and anyone not in your household at all times, unless absolutely not possible. Moving to the far edge of a pavement or path, or stepping into the road to let someone else pass “safely” - behaviour that would have been considered downright rude prior to the Coronavirus outbreak rapidly became the polite thing to do.
- one of the reasons we were allowed to leave home in the early stages of lockdown - “for one form of exercise per day” until 13th May, at which point this was relaxed. This spawned social media hashtags such as “Boris Walk” and “Government approved walk/run”.
- the Government’s scheme to support those workers whose companies would otherwise have had no option but to make them redundant, on the basis that the company has no income with which to pay them. The scheme, formally called the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” paid employees 80% of their usual pay. There was a similar scheme for the self-employed also, although a fair number fell through the net on that one.
- each day a senior member of the Cabinet plus a couple of relevant expert advisors carried out a press conference. Initially this was done face to face - subsequently via video conferencing. In the early days of these briefings the majority of the population were glued to them, however this faded for many to just reading or watching the highlights once we all got a bit “newsed out”
- a video calling platform which went from zero to hero within a few days of the start of lockdown, enabling both business meetings and groups of friends to “meet” and chat online, almost as normal. See also Teams, Skype, messenger chat and others.
- prior to the COVID-19 crisis this was usually used to mean members of the emergency and medical services, however it rapidly became apparent during lockdown that our keyworkers also included (but weren’t limited to) shop workers, care home staff and those caring for the ill or elderly in their homes, bus and train drivers, taxi drivers, postmen, bin men, street cleaners, those employed in food production, distribution workers, teachers (many continued to work as children of other key workers continued to attend school, allowing their parents to carry on working while no other childcare was available to them). Thanking these workers became commonplace. Let’s hope we all continue to appreciate their part in our lives in the future.
The Thursday Applause / Clap for carers
- at 8pm each Thursday many people gathered on doorsteps, balconies and in gardens to applaud. Initially this was for keyworkers generally, but in subsequent weeks it became mainly about the NHS. People, clapped, cheered, whistled, banged pots and pans with wooden spoons - anything to make some noise. His continued for 10 weeks after which the originator requested that it stopped before it became habitual, and less meaningful.
Working From Home
- something which we were all aware of prior to March 23rd, but from then it became the normal for most people. Will it continue to be accepted by companies as a regular part of life into the future now it has been proved that it can work? We’ll see.
- formerly business accounting software, we now know it also stands for Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
Supermarket one-way systems
- organised by a series of arrows on the floor, we were all asked in larger supermarkets to proceed up one aisle and down the next throughout the store to reduce incidences of people breaching social distancing protocols. Likened by some to a giant game of real-life PacMan, it mostly worked well when people wanted it to. Dirty looks and passive-aggressive muttering addressed as those who insisted on flouting the directional arrows became the norm.As Lockdown was eased, and non essential shops were allowed to reopen, this also became the normal way of managing things in town centres, shopping malls etc.
- this is the reproduction rate of the virus, in other works how fast it will spread. An R number of above 1 is a significant problem, indeed it was not until ours went below 1 that Lockdown was able to be relaxed. This number fluctuates a lot however, making managing it tricky - for this reason we were warned that a lockdown restrictions may need to be tightened again.
- a word used to describe those who behaved stupidly and potentially out others at risk of the virus. Those refusing to acknowledge the social distancing guidelines, and gathering on beaches in their thousands, for example!
Professor Christopher Whitty CB FRCP FFPH FMedSci is an English physician and epidemiologist. The Chief Medical Officer for England, Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and Head of the National Institute for Health Research (source: Wikipedia) He became a regular face on our TV screens and printed press in the early part of the lockdown, along with...
Sir Patrick Vallance FRS FMedSci FRCP - A British physician, scientist, and clinical pharmacologist. He has since March 2018 been the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of the United Kingdom.