Feeling Uneasy About the Easing of Lockdown
Tina is sharing with us how she is feeling about the easing of lockdown and what she'd like to see everyone doing to ensure the safety of others.
Many of us, particularly those who have been shielding, are feeling uneasy about what happens next with the easing of lockdown. How each of us choose to emerge back into society is a personal thing, based on our own circumstances. How after keeping ourselves safe by staying at home for over a year, can we remain safe when we re-emerge into the outside world?
Shielding was hard, particularly adapting during those first few months. Not setting foot over my front doorstep for months, as per the original guidelines for shielders. Getting used to being on my own and only seeing others via a video screen. Stressing over booking non-existent online home supermarket slots. However, despite all the drawbacks I felt safe.
Now as lockdown eases, I have a lot of ambivalent feelings. I’m thankful that I’ve had both Pfizer vaccines, but there is so much uncertainty with new variations, as a society we can’t rely on vaccination alone as a quick fix solution to make Covid disappear.
Easing out of shielding I now see some very ordinary, mundane tasks with potentially as much danger as if I was about to abseil down the side of a skyscraper. At times the transition feels overwhelming but I’ve found it helpful to start with baby steps. Initially I was taking taxis to and from my hospital appointments to avoid public transport. When I went for my second vaccine, I took the bus and afterwards went to a coffee shop for the first time in over a year, and sat out in Paternoster Square with my hot chocolate before getting the bus home. I’ve also tried to extend the period of time I’m outside, after months of short walks round the block, I’ll now walk up to my nearby park and sit out for a while. When I leave home, I wear a mask and it remains on until I’m back home. So far, I haven’t met up with any friends even outside. I’m taking things slow.
The thing I am finding the most difficulty with is other people’s behaviour when I’m indoors. In the last couple of weeks, I have started to go inside places. The majority of people are wearing masks and I’m mindful that there are many people who are medically exempt from wearing one.
Last week when I was in the chemist, I waited outside as the notice says only 2 people admitted at a time. One of the men standing at the counter pulled down his mask briefly. When I went in, I found out he worked for a pharmaceutical company. Going into my local supermarket I noticed that most people were not using the hand sanitizer by the entrance and there wasn’t a member of staff there to check or remind people.
Observing these happenings makes me feel very uneasy and unsafe. It feels it doesn’t matter how much I have done or continue to do to keep myself safe, I am only as safe as those around me. I don’t think anyone is doing this maliciously, but by not following basic guidelines, such as using hand sanitizer, it may mean that someone who is asymptomatic may be putting other people at risk.
Likewise, organisations need to be more proactive than just putting up notices online and in their buildings. Disabled people and/or shielders will stop visiting venues if they don’t feel safe.
We all need to remember that there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been impacted by Covid. Many of us have experienced one if not several from a list that includes having had Covid, recently disabled due to having long Covid, experienced bereavement of someone close to us, lost or worried about losing their job, struggled to buy food or pay household bills, experienced loneliness, depression or anxiety and/or provided 24/7 care for adult relatives or children without their usual support network. We’ve all missed a year and ached for the return of some form of normality. However, we still need to look out and after each other.
My request is please stick to the Covid precautions, even if you don’t think your actions or lack of actions will make any difference. It’s a gesture that shows kindness, empathy and appreciation of other people’s health needs. It will help disabled people and/ or shielders to stay safe and it might even save lives.
Thank you and stay safe and well.
It's been great to hear Tina's views and hear that she is getting out a little more. This is part of our Voices of Covid blog series, where disabled people share their stories and raise awareness of topics that are important to them. Please contact us if you would like to take part or find out more.