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Coronavirus lockdown: how people are feeling about that “unlockdown” announcement

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Kayleigh Dray
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Boris Johnson has suggested that the coronavirus lockdown will be loosened next Monday, and people’s feelings are divided, to say the least…

When will the UK’s coronavirus lockdown end? Sooner than we imagined, if Boris Johnson’s latest comments are anything to go by.

In his first prime minister’s questions since recovering from Covid-19, Johnson promised that he would give a statement this Sunday on his plans for an “unlockdown”.

Explaining that social distancing measures could be loosened from as soon as Monday, the PM added that possible areas for change include allowing more outdoor activities and making clear ways in which businesses could get employees back to work.

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Naturally, it wasn’t long before the phrase ‘unlockdown’ began trending on Twitter.

One, taking umbrage with the term ‘unlockdown’, wrote: “Over 30,000 deaths in the UK – his fault. And his response – because he’s incapable of being serious or taking any responsibility – is to make up what he thinks is a funny word.”

Another, echoing many people’s disbelief, added: “The PM is talking about having an ‘unlockdown’ on Monday when we’re still getting 600 deaths a day?”

“The end of stay-at-home orders doesn’t mean the pandemic is over,” said another. “It means they currently have room for you in the ICU [Intensive Care Unit].”

Echoing this sentiment, one Twitter user shared a side-by-side illustration of a man sitting on his sofa at home, and a man lying in a hospital bed.

“You decide,” the comic’s caption read. “Be patient, or be a patient.”

Another added: “The UK has the second highest death rate in the world, so lifting the ‘lockdown’ (barely a lockdown, because people are still going out) would be stupid and reckless. It needs another three to four weeks to prevent a second wave and allow the numbers to go down.”

And still one more noted: “Johnson said in #PMQs that he’ll release details about how ‘unlockdown’ will proceed on Sunday, so people ‘know the day before what would change’. My guess is that people would like a little more notice than that about something so critical to their continued physical existence.”

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Others, though, seemed excited about the prospect of social distancing measures being loosened.

“I think that ‘liberation’ is a better word to use than ‘unlockdown’,” said one.

An osteopath, meanwhile, shared: “Getting ready for ‘unlockdown’ with my first homemade mask. I’ve enough fabric for 16 more, which will allow me to change for every patient.”

“I don’t understand these people calling for a lockdown extension,” tweeted another. “Neil Ferguson is the reason that around 3 billion people are on lockdown, and he’s just been exposed for meeting up with his married lover! If he doesn’t see the point in his own rules, neither should we.”

And one more added: “If some had their way, the lockdown extension would be indefinite… [but] working class people who actually want and need to work are losing their livelihoods.”

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Twitter seems, at this time, divided into two camps: those who think lockdown should be extended, and those who believe that we must begin lifting social distancing measures as soon as possible (although all seemingly agree that the term ‘unlockdown’ is ridiculous).

Elsewhere on the internet, though, humour could be found in the memes flooding in.

You know the drill: there are the Mean Girls fans, with their “stop trying to make unlockdown happen, it’s never going to happen” references. There are those who – sharing cartoons of wild-haired and unshaven cavepeople at laptops– fear their colleagues will no longer recognise them in person. There are the introverts, many of whom have expressed their fondest wish via a flurry of ‘Homer Simpson backing into the hedge’ clips: to stay indoors, on their terms.

There are those who have highlighted everything they felt was wrong with the UK lockdown in the first place, using nothing more than a door handle, a broken lock, and a Wotsit.

And, of course, there are those “asking for a friend” jokes about having to revert back to “normal” drinking habits once this crisis is over. 

The internet, as it were, never changes.

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Whatever your feelings on the matter, it’s worth noting that Johnson has acknowledged that every coronavirus death in the UK has been a tragedy.

However, he insisted that it was not possible to make accurate scientific comparisons of death rates around the world, despite the government’s own slides showing the UK in the worst position in Europe.

“At this stage, I don’t think that with international comparisons the data is there to draw all the conclusions that we want,” he said, stressing that ministers “were governed by overriding principles to save lives and protect the NHS”.

“Of course there will be a time to look at decisions we took and if we could have taken different decisions,” he added.

Stylist will bring you more on this story as and when the government provides us with new information.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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