Since last October, it has practically only rained here in England. Although it was not such a cold winter, we had rare sunny days, and we were looking forward to it.
And what do that has anything to do with the coronavirus? Well, just when social isolation started, about two weeks ago, the sun decided to rise in all its glory and the sky is almost cloudless.
The result: Saturday and Sunday the parks and beaches were full of people, and there were several queues at the “Fish & Chips” shops and other food stalls.
On Monday, 23th of March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement that was a little more categorical and almost begging people to stay at home. The motto here is: save the NHS.
The cafes, pubs and restaurants and several tourist attractions had already been closed, but he demanded the closing of any non-essential shops in general.
He also implemented new measures so we can leave the house only for one of these four reasons:
– shopping for food and medicines, which should be as infrequent as possible;
– a form of exercise a day, like running, walking or cycling – alone or with someone who lives in the same house as you and always keeping a distance of 2 meters of other people;
– any medical need or to assist a vulnerable person;
– get to and from work, but only if it is absolutely vital.
How they will check this, I have no idea. However, in recent days the parliament has approved several measures giving more power to the police, and they are now able to stop people on the street and give them a fine if necessary, especially in repeated cases.
As I have lived here for over 15 years, I know that in the British culture, they rely heavily on each other’s word and common sense. So I believe that the government is trusting the population to follow these rules.
A controversy here is that some major construction companies have not stopped working and even the Mayor of London has already asked the government to oblige those companies to close.
The fact that train services are less frequent and with fewer lines running, the tube is still crowded, and several of these people are employees of these construction companies.
At this current situation the tube should be almost empty, so that health workers and other vital professions can make their way safely, respecting the rule of 2 meters (6ft) of distance.
I don’t know if a mandatory lockdown for everyone would be more effective!
In supermarkets, there is still that madness of people trying to stock up on food. Several products are not in stock like flour, pasta, eggs, hand soap, hand sanitizer gel, toilet paper (the most sought after commodity and have no idea why!) and other non-perishable and cleaning products, like bleach.
However, I believe that this will soon calm down, as the markets have made several restrictions, such as:
– each person can only take a limited number of essential products (between 1 to 3 depending on the product and the supermarket);
– specific times for the elderly, vulnerable and disabled or NHS employees and other vital workers to buy what they need;
– some supermarkets are starting to limit delivery service only to the elderly and vulnerable people.
Also, measures made in Italy and Spain are being introduced here, like the demarcation inside and outside the supermarkets, so people keep a distance of 2 meters between them; a person is limiting the number of people within the market; some of them are placing glass screens so that the cashier and the customer are protected.
Several supermarkets are drastically cutting the range of products they sell and are asking manufacturers to stop making some products to focus on those which have higher demand.
On March 26, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the package to help self-employed professionals.
The package will be the same as the one for employees of companies where the owner is unable to pay the salary during this period.
In other words, the 3.8 million self-employed workers, can apply for a concession worth 80% of their average of the last 3 years on monthly profits, up to a maximum of £ 2.500 per month.
The news is excellent and leaves the country a more optimistic amid this chaos.
A law was also enacted where tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent, during this period of emergency.
Owners must notify all renters three months in advance if they intend to obtain their property and the three month notice period may be extended, if necessary.
The private health sector has reached an agreement with the government, where it will reallocate almost all of its national hospital capacity to the NHS.
The agreement – the first of its kind – includes the provision of 8.000 hospital beds across the country, almost 1.200 ventilators and around 20.000 employees who will assist the NHS England in the fight against coronavirus in England. They will also perform other urgent surgeries and treatments for cancer. Incredible, isn’t it?
The initiative came after the growing number of people infected and killed by the coronavirus.
Between 26 and 30 of March, more than 600 infected people died, bringing the death toll here in England to almost 1.300 and more than 17.000 confirmed cases of infected people, the vast majority here in London, including the PM Boris Johnson, the Heath Minister and Prince Charles.
Unfortunately, we know that from now on the numbers will only go up and the peak is coming. It’s quite scary, as here in London, there is already a lack of ICU beds.
To honour these health professionals who are putting their own lives at risk, every Thursday at 8 pm (since yesterday) people will come out the windows to clap them. #clapforcarers
The United Kingdom has donated £210 million and is now the biggest contributor at the international coalition to finding a coronavirus vaccine.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the government asked more than 65.000 doctors, nurses and other NHS retirees to go back to work, to help in this critical moment. More than 11.000 have already confirmed that they will be returning to activities.
Firefighters, police and retired ambulance drivers were also contacted to return to work.
And for these people, here is my genuine admiration. After all, they are retired and are on the risky group, so they are literally putting their lives at risk for the sake of others!
The government has asked for 250.000 volunteers to help the elderly and others who are in obligatory isolation, delivering food and medicines, taking patients to consultations and many other tasks.
More than 500.000 people volunteered in approximately 24 hours.
And if you would like to volunteer, here are some info: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely–2/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely
As we can see, now is time for people be united, rather than divided. Let’s help each other and be strong for what’s coming!