Following Boris Johnson’s announcement that we have surpassed the peak of the coronavirus and as talks of implementing an ‘exit strategy’ are dominating the headlines, I have been thinking more about life after lockdown. For the past 6 weeks, my attention has been on getting through lockdown, planning ways to keep myself entertained and doing the uni work I’ve been neglecting all year. But now (optimistic may it be), I’m beginning to look forward, to what life might look like after restrictions are lifted. We may not be too far off the end of the lockdown tunnel, but what if the life at the end is just as dark as it is now?
With my nineteenth birthday approaching in a matter of weeks, I’m hoping that I won’t be confined to a birthday in lockdown. I’m hoping to celebrate in true late adolescence style – at the pub with my friends. I feel lucky enough to have had multiple things to look forward to during lockdown that have kept me going and feeling optimistic. The excitement of moving into my university house in Sheffield in July, has been keeping spirits high among my housemates and the thought of being able to leave my family home behind after all this time stuck together, is particularly appealing. Less exciting, but still a part of my normal life that I am grateful for, is the possibility of going back to work. Even though it means commuting to Sheffield twice a week, I am still looking forward to the change of scenery, catching up with work friends and regaining a part of my normal life. My family have also booked a holiday in the Lake District for mid-July. We are hopeful that we will be able to go, but of course nothing is certain and the possibility of a second wave of the virus could well get in the way of our plans. Finally, I am looking forward to moving back to university in September, that’s if universities have reopened by then, anyway.
During lockdown, I have picked up a few new hobbies which I look forward to bringing with me into post lockdown life. With all this free time on my hands, I have started my blog which has led to my first magazine publication! I have also introduced reading into my everyday routine, which I have really enjoyed as I find that it provides a relaxing break from studying and I love the feeling of accomplishment when finishing a book. I have also started running most days, something I never thought I was capable of before lock down. I also love the entitlement running gives me to reward myself with chocolate, to make up for the calories burnt.
In the years after Covid, I hope I remember to be grateful for my health (should I still have it), and for the life I live. I hope I remember to enjoy each day as it comes because you never know when a pandemic is going to come and wreck all your plans.
So, what might post lockdown life look like for the nation?
The majority of the population are now working from home, with the assistance of laptops and the use of zoom and other platforms. Could the lockdown turn out to be an experimentation phase for a future where many more people work from home? After overcoming the technological difficulties of navigating zoom, could this become a permanent alternative to attending meetings in person? If businesses can cope with employees working from home, what is the need to drag them all back to an office every day and pay for the bills that come with renting the space? Could this be the case with universities too, as online lectures and seminars over FaceTime appear to be functioning well, as an alternative to face to face teaching? Exam boards are even managing to find ways to do exams online. Personally, this makes me question (not that I haven’t before) why university fees need to be so high when it can all be done virtually as an online course. Though I do love the university lifestyle and my course, I don’t love the debt – and online teaching has proved that I am paying a lot more than I am getting.
As many of us are now acquainted with digital face to face communication, available on a multitude of platforms from Zoom to Skype to FaceTime, will employers choose this option rather than sending their staff across the country, or the world, simply for a meeting? This decision would be economical for employers and triumphant in reducing aviation emissions. However, if business trips across the world could now be held via FaceTime, would that mean the end of business class flying? The average profits per head airlines make are significantly bumped up by the expensive business class option and without it, the survival of some airlines may be at stake.
The world would be much less polluted if more people started to work from home. Nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant linked to cars, has decreased by between 40 to 60 percent in the UK since the beginning of lockdown. This has had a great impact on air quality and would be an invaluable silver lining of the past few weeks, if we could maintain reduced exhaust emissions in the future. The clearer skies visible in many cities across the globe will hopefully change people’s relationship with the environment and be a visual reminder of the impact our activities have.
Despite reductions in pollution levels during coronavirus, the political climate after lockdown is unlikely to prioritise environmental policies. The future of politics is looking like it will be dominated with talks about economic recovery and the revival of businesses for many years to come. It is predicted that the hits our economy have taken during coronavirus will be worse than those of the Great Depression and both world wars. We can be sure that a lot of attention will be focused on how to recoup the massive expenditure and borrowing the government is currently having to take on. After our Prime Minister’s experience in hospital during his battle with Covid-19, will politicians begin to totally support the NHS in the future. Will the NHS receive more funding and will the nurses get a pay rise, or will the NHS collapse completely? In addition, Brexit is also due to begin taking effect towards the end of the year. Let’s hope for a quicker exit out of lockdown than out of the EU.
This is all assuming that we do recover from Covid-19 and resume life as we used to know it. Experts say that social distancing could continue through to next year or until a vaccine becomes available. The future of Britain right now is uncertain, but moving forward the nation will certainly be stronger and more connected than it was before.