As of today (13 May), the government’s new “stay alert” message has come into action in England, replacing the original “stay home” guidelines we were given back in March.
“From [today], we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise,” Boris Johnson has explained. “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.”
Similarly, the government’s previous stance was that people should only go to work “if they must,” Johnson said. “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance, those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”
Johnson has also announced several other new measures:
- People returning to work should avoid public transport where possible.
- Quarantining people entering the country by air would come into place “soon.”
- A new five-tier alert system, like the one the UK uses for terror threats, will be employed by a biosecurity center.
- Primary schools could open from 1 June, but that is the best-case scenario.
- More shops and the hospitality sector could reopen in July, depending on circumstances.
It is worth noting, though, that England’s coronavirus lockdown rules are now different to those being practiced in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Indeed, the rest of the UK is still telling people to “stay home”.
There’s no denying that this sense of disconnect seems to be spreading, as people of the UK clash over lockdown rules on social media. Some believe we should be offered more freedom – permission to spend time with friends and family, to return to work, to visit their hairdresser. Others, though, have said that it’s too early to lift lockdown: they fear a second wave is guaranteed to follow if people are allowed to return to their pre-Covid 19 lives.
Referring to her recent decision to share explicit details about being “raped, drugged and kept captive”, Duffy continues: “You may or may not have read my words. I found them to be liberating. And so I would sincerely like to know, how are you?
“Tonight, some of us grieve the easing of enforced lockdown – and some of us appreciate it. The sense of security found in a common goal, a shared goal, is changing and could now stand to divide, which it must not, above all, in adapting to a new uncertainty.
“And so, I want to create a post where you can talk openly about how you are doing. I invite you to write here, if you would like that. I look forward to reading how you are, about your life, and current experiences. For you to share your stories visibly with others too, here.”
You can read the post in full below:
In offering people the chance to talk, to be vulnerable, to share their thoughts and feelings and opinions without fear of judgement, Duffy has opened the lines of communication. And her followers, responding to her post in waves, have thanked her for this opportunity.
“I have BPD and it has been a struggle mentally, some days worse than others. I think it’s important to check in on those who might be struggling a bit more at this time,” reads one such comment.
“I’m doing ok today. I have to take it day by day. I’m a nurse and sometimes struggling with mental health. I’m proud of you for speaking your truth,” says another.
And still one more says: “Thank you for sharing your story and for this post. I am anxious to see how life changes day to day after this and what’s to be of the world.”
In short, Duffy’s post has taught us an important lesson. 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, all suffering is relative.
So, when someone expresses a lockdown view that’s entirely at odds with your own, don’t lash out. Theatres are closed, shops are shuttered, streets are silent: let’s not fill that newfound newfound quiet with messages of anger.
Instead, let’s be more like Duffy. Let’s simply ask a very simple question: “how are you?”
With just those three little words, we can offer people the chance to talk – really talk. By simply listening, we can help someone work through how they’re feeling.
And, in taking the time to do so, we may just help to prevent yet further division across the country, too.