It seems like most of the UK is making significant progress in getting back to normal at the moment. A new normal, of course, but it’s much more similar to life pre-Covid than I expected it to be by this point.
That would be a comfort, if it wasn’t for the fact that Covid is still a very real threat to people’s lives.
And perhaps it’s because we’re getting closer and closer to a new normal that increasing numbers of people are ignoring the new, more relaxed, rules. Those huge gatherings in Cardiff bay demonstrate that it’s happened on a large scale, but it’s the smaller, more widespread things which worry me. Like people taking pictures in which they’re clearly not social distancing, inside houses with people from a number of different households. (They’re very unlikely to all be in a ‘support bubble’, since those are still limited to just two households In England, and it was the same in Wales until very recently).
Forbes published an article explaining why people were breaking the rules at the height of quarantine, but I feel the reasoning behind breaking the more relaxed rules is much the same.
“Actions are driven by emotions, not rational thought”
People have spent months indoors, not being able to see their friends or family members, and there’s no doubt that most of the population has experienced a decrease in their well being as a result. The emotional boost that comes from seeing friends and family again would’ve distracted many from the “rational thought” that they had to live their lives by for what felt like more than just a few months.
And when the rules were relaxed it probably felt more justified to break them a little, as they were so laid-back anyway – what harm could it do? It’s true, a social life that’s not Zoom-based is an integral part of people’s lives.
You don’t need to break Covid rules to have one, though.
“Many […] are in denial, especially if they aren’t in hardest-hit areas, aren’t in high-risk groups and/or don’t know anyone with the virus”
Again, this was written in April, and I don’t think that the people who are enjoying a few drinks inside their friends’ houses are necessarily in denial of the seriousness of Covid anymore. They just want to have a good time. If I had to guess what they’re in denial of, I’d say it was the potential consequences of their actions.
Or perhaps they’re unaware of the actual rules around extended households, or ‘support bubbles’ as they’re called in England. In Wales, you’re only allowed to go inside someone else’s house if you are providing care or support for them, or if you’re one of the four (and only four) households that they have joined up with. In England, you can have people from any two (only two!) households be indoors together, and they don’t have to be in a ‘support bubble’, but they do still have to socially distance from one another.
Covid spreads a lot easier indoors. The reason that pubs, restaurants and even gyms have been allowed to open is because they’ve agreed to carry out regular vigorous cleaning and ensure that customers can remain (at least somewhat) socially distanced from each other. They also leave doors and windows open where they can, to try to minimise the risk posed by a lack of air flow.
So no, the ‘but the pubs are open’ excuse doesn’t quite cut it when you’re visiting someone’s house who, let’s face it, is probably not going to anti-bac the surfaces every time they’re touched, or leave the front and back door open to create an air flow, or pull people from different households apart when the distance between them inevitably becomes less than one metre.
More relaxed rules don’t mean that we have any less of a responsibility to do everything in our power to stop ourselves from getting Covid. If not for ourselves, then for others who are more vulnerable than us.
There is no vaccine. Covid-19 hasn’t disappeared, nor have the devastating consequences of its existence. The rules are all that’s between us and another outbreak. Follow them.