Sixteen weeks ago today Britain went into lockdown. Most presumed it would only be for a month, two at the most. We talked about Blitz spirit, how Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague lockdown, and worried about toilet rolls, yeast and flour. No one, I don’t think, expected sixteen week and then things opening as they are doing.
Now things are opening up and I must say I’m not sure I like it! Yesterday I took my regular walk which goes along a fairly main road, a footbridge over a major road, along the beach and back through the park. Sixteen weeks ago there was no traffic along the roads. You could stand for a while and see the main arterial road along the North Wales coast totally devoid of cars until you got bored and carried on walking. In fact it did get boring seeing roads with no cars on and people stopped posting photos. But also the footpaths were busy with walkers and cyclists and people all avoiding each other. A couple of months ago the traffic started to get busier.
Yesterday though it was a Sunday and it was 7am both roads were busy. The holiday cottage, which had been in the process of being renovated when lockdown came, now has a high fence around it in preparation for privacy for the holiday makers who will enjoy their stay two minutes from the beach. The caravan park is now reopened. After seeing these static caravans locked up, the gate to their site padlocked for so long, I had got used to it being a ghost place. But yesterday there were cars parked by the mobile homes, gates wide open, sleepy residents wandering the shingle whilst smells of bacon call them back to eat.
I know it is all “good for the economy” but I’m not sure I like it. I enjoy it when I walked round my little seaside town and only saw locals.
On Friday my husband, myself and the dog were volunteers as part of the “welcome back to Snowdonia” campaign; reasuring people about the measure in place to keep the virus at bay (e.g. foot pumped hand sanitizers outside each toilet block) and reminding them that in Wales we still have the two metre distancing rule. I’m sure for the locals of Snowdonia, a place that can have over 5,000 tourists fill the area each day, it must be a huge change. Yes like me I’m sure that they are pleased to see their shops and cafes, restaurant and pubs back open. I’m sure that they are pleased to have income coming into their area. But I wonder too if they miss the tranquility, the “knowing everyone” feel that went on for the last sixteen weeks.
It only takes a month to build a habit. Four months and it had become our “new normal”. Now we are being asked to change again. And being the amazing human species that we are we will manage it and in a month or two the “new normal” will feel … well normal!