Some of us are staying indoors to shield against the coronavirus, and some of us have already had our first drink down the pub. No wonder tensions are sky-high, eh?
Naturally, photographs of crowded streets and venues soon began circulating on Twitter, prompting fears that social distancing guidelines were being ignored. Fears which have, of course, only been exacerbated further following the news that three pubs have already been forced to close after customers tested positive for Covid-19.
“That started well then,” tweeted one person angrily.
“Wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t go to the pub… and never vote Tory again,” added another.
Still one more noted: “How wild is it that 137 people lost their lives to coronavirus in the UK yesterday (for scale, China’s worst daily death toll at the height of their outbreak was 150) yet people are happily going to the pub?
“This is not the end of Covid-19. This is the beginning.”
And many others expressed anger at punters “putting others at risk” with their “stupidity.”
“The British public has no common sense,” snapped one.
It is worth noting, of course, that only three out of hundreds of pubs have reported any issues thus far. And, while there were reports of arrests and early venue closures around the country on ‘Super Saturday’, police said a majority of people acted responsibly.
Still, though, the arguments rage on. Not that this is all that surprising, mind you: after all, this is not the first time that the public has fallen out massively over lockdown rules.
As reported on 25 June: the phrase ‘Yes Boris!’ began steadily trending on Twitter when some, ecstatic over the fact that lockdown rules to control coronavirus would be easing on 4 July, began celebrating the fact that they’d soon be allowed to hit their local pub or restaurant.
Others, though, leaped upon the hashtag to share their concerns for a second wave.
And the result? A lot of squabbling on social media.
“Yes Boris!” read one tweet. “Can’t wait to sip on a nice cold drink in the pub while the ones crying about the new guidelines are hiding indoors twitching their curtains watching people live their lives.”
“Yes Boris, can’t wait for all my extremely vulnerable customers to come back to the pub and ignore social distancing,” said another.
One more tweet read: “Yes Boris, I’m so excited to get back to the pub. Cold G&T? PLEASE!”
“To all you ‘Yes Boris’ idiots,” seethed another, “by all means pop into your local pub for your selfish fantasy. I’ll be giving you and all your cronies a wide berth.”
“Yes Boris!” raved one more. “Now on 4 July we can all celebrate Independence Day in the pub. Nice one!”
And another noted: “Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has said something like, ‘Fuck going to the pub in two weeks, I’m not risking my loved ones’. And we love a pub! So I’m guessing most of the ‘Yes Boris’ crowd celebrating pubs reopening are the people who weren’t observing lockdown anyway.”
Yeah. As I said, there’s been a lot of squabbling on social media – and this disconnect is starting to seep into real life, too, as friends and family come to blows over whether or not they should be meeting up in person. Over whether or not they should “fulfill their patriotic duty” (to use Boris Johnson’s much-maligned phrase) and down a pint at their local.
Over, essentially, who’s right and who’s wrong.
The thing is, as Stylist’s Lauren Geall recently pointed out, nobody’s in the wrong. Not really, not unless they’re planning on meeting up with a huge gang of pals, breaking all social distancing guidelines, and licking each other’s faces. Rather, the clearcut rules we were given at the beginning of lockdown have shifted into… well, into something far more open to interpretation.
To echo what many have already said on Twitter, this means that the responsibility of controlling the spread of coronavirus has been shifted into the hands of the public, rather than the government. And this, of course, means that many will find themselves at odds with others over how we should move forward.
Some, desperately lonely in lockdown, will be keen to meet up with friends for a chat. Others will want to continue shielding. Some will want to, have to, go back to work. Others will be lucky enough to continue working from home. Some will want to take their kids to the zoo, or an amusement park, or the cinema. Others might prefer to stick to board games and paddling pools at home. Some will want to go on holiday with the loved ones they’ve missed. Others will want to postpone all trips until next year. Some might want to host a BBQ. Others, for whatever reason, may prefer to decline that BBQ invite. Some might suggest meeting up in town. Others might wish to stay away from crowds for the time being. Some will want to toast the end of the virus with a pint at their local. And others may prefer to stick to a chilled glass of wine at home.
All of the above is OK. Say it with me: all of the above is OK. And we need to remember to not just respect people’s choices, but be kind, too. After all, this pandemic is entirely unprecedented territory: nobody knows how best to cope, nobody knows how best to deal with things. And everyone is struggling, albeit in different ways: remember, everything is relative.
So, when someone expresses a lockdown view that’s entirely at odds with your own, don’t lash out. Instead, take a moment. Consider things from their point of view. And, if you’re still fuming, then I once again urge you to make like Amy Poehler and start shouting the phrase, “Good for you, not for me” from the rooftops. Because these six little words celebrate both difference and an assertion of self, making it the ideal response to someone else’s life choices. They channel nothing but empathy, appreciation and esteem.
And, boy, could we all use a little bit more of that right now.