The UK has been in lockdown for 35 days and I hate to think what the statistics would be if it hadn’t been.
I went to the local shops this week to pick up some groceries for my parents, while I was in there it was clear that some people, one person in particular, was paying no attention to the social distancing measures in place. Several times he was about a foot away from me as I tried to shop and seemed to find it amusing more than anything that we kept ‘bumping’ into each other.
While this man was likely in the minority group of people playing ignorant to actual health advice, I think the biggest noticeable concern was my own reaction. Since lockdown I haven’t been leaving the house very often, I’ve walked the dog a handful of times (he is walked every day, just not always by me) and, where possible, I’ve done the food run so my mum doesn’t have to. Each and every time I’ve left a shop I’ve doused myself in antibacterial gel and begun the anxious routine of wondering if that was the time I was going to catch Coronavirus.
I find myself getting irritable whenever i’m in a public place. On a few occasions I’ve seen someone wearing a mask and not observing the social distancing guidance of standing 2ft away from anyone, as if the mask solves everything.
Let me be clear, it doesn’t.
Not all interactions are negative; On the days I go for a walk with my dog I politely smile back to those who wait in a drive-way for me to pass or who thank me as I move out of the way myself. The people exercising are conscientious, and in those shy, awkward greetings, there’s a solidarity. We’re all in this together.
I certainly find myself feeling increasingly paranoid when I leave the house and I am not a germaphobe at all. Even on the days I come back from a walk and haven’t crossed paths with a single person I still rush to wash my hands and face. I get frustrated with myself if I’m out and absent-mindedly scratch my face and I find myself muttering angrily if someone doesn’t make the effort to move a little further out of the way.
I can’t be the only person who is noticing their approach to strangers is different. I know there has and always will be people who don’t sing Good Morning as they walk past you in the park and there will always be those oblivious to ones personal space, but I suspect this Pandemic could cause a shift in people’s behaviour towards others. Will hand-shaking be a thing of the past? Will people forever gasp in disgust if you cough in their vicinity and squash themselves into a bush as you wander past? Or, like Instagram will have you believe, will everyone basque in the glory of freedom, hugging loved ones, holding them tight, singing in the streets outside newly opened bars with their arms slung over friends just made?
The latter sounds like an unrealistic dream but then again, this Pandemic is the stuff of movies so who’s to say how our lives will change?