Will I feel confident outside again?

Lockdown will eventually lift. But will we feel safe?

Every day we speculate about how long we’ve got left in our current lockdown situation. But when the time comes for a lift on restrictions, will we be hesitant to venture out? By Holly Beddingfield.

Brewdog said they’ll buy everyone a beer when it’s over. Eyal Winter, an economist working with the government on plans to ease the lockdown, suggested pubs limit people to two or three pints each when they reopen. The anticipation of a big, rowdy celebration is definitely in the air.

But… What if we’re scared?

In every daily broadcast from the government, we’ve been reminded of the key pandemic dichotomy: looking after the health of the population, and keeping the economy afloat.

Of course the two are not mutually exclusive. But in simple terms, a longer lockdown may keep people out of hospital, but it’s forcing our economy to crumble. There is no doubt that this deterioration is applying as much (if not more) pressure to ease restrictions than anything else.

I began to think about how I would feel if I was told I could go out and do more things. I fantasise about putting a great outfit together and heading to a bar with my friends. I’m excited to see a wider group of people, those I might not chat to one-on-one right now. And I’m ready to hear music played somewhere other than my home speaker.

But if I’m completely honest, without reliable and widely-available testing, or a vaccine, am I really ready?

I decided to ask some of you how you felt about life after lockdown too. I found I was not alone. Many of you said you were worried about a second wave and would avoid crowded places for a while longer. But what does that mean? Public transport? Your office? A pub?

Pitting health and economy against each other, both in government discourse and the media, feels responsible for much of this fear. We don’t want to spend our money and go back to normal until we feel it’s safe to do so.

But the economy is crumbling beyond repair. So what’s the answer?

In my circle of friends, we’ve chatted about the potential to carve out new ways of doing business as a society, and reinvent how we live as communities.

This pandemic has halted the status quo like never before. If I’m totally honest, I don’t want to go back to the old ways. I’d love the opportunity to build something new. A model that puts the wellbeing of its people first.

I know that those with decision-making power are keen to return to the old model as soon as possible, and I have no doubt that will happen. (With a difficult, uphill climb, of course.)

So with that, I guess I can hope that we look to the example set by supermarkets for safe social distancing, and that as a society who have recently bound together at this time, we don’t try to flout the rules.

It’s important to remember that everyone has had a unique experience of lockdown. Some people are experiencing grief, some unemployment, some domestic violence, and some all three.

Some people have tried new habits and kept them. Some have had creative epiphanies. Some people have found the time to slow down like never before in their lives, and they’re better for it.

When we emerge back into the outside world, I hope we can do so with the sensitivity and care that this pandemic has helped us to nurture.