So the road out of lockdown has now been paved and for many of us the reassurance of a ‘normal’ summer will be enough to see off the remainder of the winter. Pubs will be open! Sports venues will be open! Weddings are allowed! It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and feels like the country has let out a sigh of collective relief that the current lockdown isn’t forever. But there’s still a long way to go.
Call me pessimistic but I’ve taken note of that “earliest possible date” footnote and I’m not celebrating quite yet. I was not one of the many booking flights abroad on Monday night and I don’t think I will be for quite some time. Perhaps it’s down to my current mood, but I can’t quite bring myself to be excited. As nice as it is to have some sense of being able to plan, if the last year has taught us anything it’s that a pandemic doesn’t stick to dates and that viruses can be unpredictable. Whilst I have a lot of faith in the benefits the vaccine will bring, I don’t necessarily share that faith in people’s behaviour.
Whilst the summer currently looks deceptively inviting, I’m loathe to fill up my calendar too soon. Don’t get me wrong, I have a list a mile long of things I want to do and people I want to see, but I don’t quite trust that plans will have to be cancelled. I’m also slightly nervous about being busy socially again. A fulfilling social life is fantastic, but I also quite like not having to make decisions, rush around between places and just having time to bake or read. If anything, the last year has made me more introverted and it’s going to take time to adjust.
And I still have a lot of questions buzzing around my head. What about next winter? Should I do everything I can this summer in the expectation that winters will be more restricted? When will it feel OK to do things again (given we didn’t make the most of any of the freedoms offered to us last summer)? It’s only a matter of time before I’m asked by work how often I want to be back in the office and what sort of working pattern I want. All things I’ve let mull around my brain, but nothing I have answers to yet.
Before anything else, I need to do some organising. Whilst the prospect of having a proper wedding celebration this summer will thrill many couples, we’ve once again managed to land ourselves on the wrong side of the all important (potential) 21 June date. The fact we’d have to rearrange everything again wasn’t entirely unexpected but is frustrating, and quite honestly I feel like I have limited energy to do anything about it currently. Our big trip to Canada (which we’d also already concluded probably wouldn’t happen this year) will also be delayed again until we’re confident international travel is possible without a quarantine period taking up most of the booked holiday.
There are rules for other countries to check. It’s all very well that there’s a grand plan for England, but when some of the people you plan to prioritise visiting when possible live in Wales and Scotland, those rules and dates become just as important.
This has become quite a gloomy post for what should be a positive subject. But I’m nervous. I’m nervous people will start taking liberties now and that will spoil this new plan we’re all pinning our hopes to. I’m nervous our hopes will be dashed yet again as the plans unveiled are too optimistic to be a reality. And I’m a bit nervous about what life looks like on the other side. We’ve gone through a huge societal change and no matter how much we convince ourselves otherwise, life at the other side won’t be the same as ‘before’ and there are many of us who won’t come out of this period completely unscathed.
I can’t wait to be able to see people I haven’t seen in months. I can’t wait to hug people again. I want to be able to go to a restaurant, to the cinema, to the theatre… and more than anything I want to be able to do it without feeling like I’m being irresponsible. So whilst the new ‘roadmap’ brings hope, I’m going to stay cautious for now.
How are you feeling about the road out of lockdown?