THE LOCKDOWN CLASS
Over the past few months we have become well versed on how covid-19 paramedic has created greater inequality between BAME and disabled people and communities from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst these important issues are now being openly discussed, I am noticing something else creeping in, the self-centeredness of particular individuals. There have been a lot of conversations about no need to leave the house, having a back garden, being in procession of a car and not having to be near anyone who is likely to carry the deadly convid-19 virus amongst the chatting classes. Whenever I go and visit anyone with a garden, the amount of stress they put on telling me that is the only “welcomed” space and that life could come to an end without it.
House gardens have become the only permitted place for socialising as a result of the very confusing Government’s social distancing guidance. And for those of us without gardens we are welcome to meet in a public park without access to mere public amenities such as a toilet. The garden or a lack of garden has never been something I have given any real thought to; whatever people did in gardens I could enjoy with friends and family around the kitchen table or sloughing on my comfortable sofa in my living room. All of a sudden my home and indeed inside of family and other middle class peoples’ homes with gardens has become no go areas for visitors. Whilst having a chat four months into locked down and restrictions began lifting I was advised in the nicest possible manner by a good friend that she was not ready for me to sit on her sofa – this is after many years of sitting on all sorts of chairs and sofas in their family home.
Not only have we been advised to stick to our private gardens but also to travel by car and where possible avoid public transport. The lucky ones who are able to drive and could help us avoid public transport or avoid that long walk from station to guest house were issued with guidance advising car owners to stop sharing with people outside their own household. This prompted to me to think about the rationale behind this “restriction” – to avoid public transport users who have sat with all those human beings having the potential to carry the covid-19 virus.
From having chats with others I come to conclude that somewhere down the line that many of us are perceived as second class citizens because we do not have private gardens, entertaining areas, private transport or are having to go out to work on a day to day basis. And some-how there is a prevailing unspoken view that those of us who spend more time in public open and enclosed spaces are more likely to infect others and therefore families and friends private indoor spaces that were once opened to many of us are now no go areas since locked down and thereafter. Nor are we only expected to visit family and friends in their own gardens usually getting there by public transport, if it rains we are expected just to leave and go home. The home and car owners give no thought to those who have to wear those horrible face coverings whilst travelling on public transport and exposing ourselves to some kind of risk of contracting covid-19 and getting wet.
Of course we all need to take precaution whatever we do including visiting other people and where possible minimise our risk to ourselves and others catching convid-19 virus through minimum (rather than no) touching, washing hands with soap and water, wearing of face covering and alike. And we can come to arrangements on how to proceed when eating together, separate cutely and cups, extra hand washing, no food bowel sharing etc. Like before if we are not well, then we should not be going out in the first place! If we do this I believe there is no reason why we cannot continue enjoying each other spaces in comfort, taking into account covid-19 risks and being at ease with our loved ones, friends and colleagues. After all we are permitted to travel in a taxi, sit in a shopping centre where we can sit on sofas, enjoy a shared meal and retail therapy with others for prolonged period of time with Government’s blessing. I wonder whether anyone has had similar experiences elsewhere.