I remember how surreal everything felt as the original lockdown approached last March. One day, I went into Winchester to pick up a new inhaler just before I went home, and what struck me was that between leaving campus and being halfway down the high street, I literally didn’t see a single soul. I suppose it was to be expected, since we were all being told to stay home as much as possible, but I’d obviously never known anything like a pandemic in my lifetime, so it was borderline eerie. When I did eventually encounter human life, it was in the form of queues outside the bank or the pharmacy, where people were being admitted on a strict one-in, one-out basis. Their conversation rang out in the open air, such was the emptiness of town, and there was clear anxiety on every face as they waited for their permitted essentials. It was like something out of a disaster film – and at that point, none of us could have really known that we were only at the start of the longest film any of us had ever seen.
Over a year on, the pandemic continues to dominate the news and our lives. According to the Government, however, the end is in sight, and 21 June will bring our collective return to normality, with all remaining restrictions lifted.
Really? Are we really expected to carry on with our lives exactly as they were before coronavirus?
The restrictions and the lockdowns have been hard for us all, but most of us have just done what we’ve needed to do to get through it, because it’s just been the way things are. And whether we like it or not, it’s still very much the way things are – there might be a decline in cases, and an ever-increasing number of people being vaccinated (I was Pfizered for the second time just under three weeks ago), but coronavirus is still well and truly with us. I myself have spent the last three days isolating in my room, thanks to a positive test for one of my flatmates. With that in mind, I’m not sure how I really feel about simply going about my daily business as if nothing ever happened. We’ll still have to take precautions, obviously, but fully opening society doesn’t quite sit right with me. I can’t help worrying that we’ll get complacent and end up right back at square one. I guess only time will tell how it pans out for us all – but I’m not holding my breath for a happy ending just yet…