A view from South-West England

By Vic Cann

Back at the start of lockdown in March I decided that, rather than spend my time trapped in a house arguing with my housemates all trying to work from home, I would take myself and my cat, over to stay with a friend for the duration.

This change was the best decision as I was able to spent a relatively luxurious eight or so weeks combining work commitments with a routine consisting of online fitness videos, hanging out in the garden and having two-person BBQ’s, learning Japanese on Duolingo and perhaps my lockdown highlight, taking acting classes via Zoom; something which I thought would definitely be postponed until people could mingle again.

The world slowed down and to start with I must admit I quite enjoyed it. It took away any requirement to be sociable and allowed for a period of uninterrupted self-reflection, the result of which was that when lockdown eased I moved into my friend’s house on a permanent basis.

Looking back on that period I can see why I found it easy, the weather was hot and we knew what was expected of us, to stay in our own homes and go out to shop or take exercise. The lack of freedom undoubtedly caused upset but we got on with it, on the understanding that if we followed the guidelines then an end to this battle would be in reach.

So…when will it end?

With the eventual release from our homes, my friends and I ventured out into the Bristol parks to enjoy the last dregs of summer, the first for many years not highlighted by a festival experience or road-trip. Although the onset of Autumn has meant meeting outside may be short-lived, my friends have been known to sit in a park under trees with umbrellas in the rain! We abide by the rules but also use our own common sense to try to fill the gaps the government leaves in its wake, meaning more time outside with friends rather than in each other’s homes.

At the start of October, I managed to squeeze in a couple weeks of visiting family in Plymouth, the first I’ve seen any of them since February, before rushing back for the latest ‘big announcement’ last Monday, which divided the country into fluctuating levels of alert. But it seems I needn’t have stressed as at the time of writing the Test and Trace app tells me that my area in Bristol is in Covid Alert Level – Medium; the lowest of the three, as is across the rest of the South-West of England.

So, with this in mind, I have visited pubs in Bristol a couple of times. On both occasions the staff were really helpful and attentive (although I can’t say the same for their online apps) and the safety systems in place were easy to follow. Some of the tables didn’t seem to quite have enough space between them as they probably should have but it was a relief to feel some of the usual good vibes, albeit with only up to six friends.

The question which I know I’m not alone in asking myself is for how long will this last? The government and scientists are now disagreeing more often, and after familiarising myself with the differences between the alert levels I’m not sure any of these latest steps are enough to make Covid disappear.

It’s not an easy call to make, but on the basis it was guaranteed to work, I think I would rather endure another full lockdown if it means a return to normality, instead the current regime that seems to be dragging things out and is surely not sustainable.

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