In a televised address on Monday 23rd March, the government announced unprecedented limits on non-essential activity. The following day, the country entered lockdown. The changes were a stark escalation of the government’s response to the pandemic.
Almost two months on, the government released a 50-page ‘roadmap’ dossier outlining a ‘phased strategy’ to exit our lockdown, but still, for many, lives remain unchanged, and with this, comes many questions.
As a further instalment to our initial ‘Residents Questions’ feature in March, and follow-up article in April, B&M Care once again sits down with our residents to answer any questions or concerns they may have regarding recent updates – some of which may help you further understand what you can and can’t do in our continued ‘shuttered state’.
I really miss my local high street – will we be able to visit it soon? Joy, Milford Lodge (Hitchin)
As proposed by the government in a ‘three phase plan’, stage two could see the reopening of non-essential retail as early as June – and therefore, the re-emergence of a more active high street. But with this comes change: adhering to distancing guidelines, alongside the safety of those working, will be paramount when re-establishing a future for retail.
I’ve read so many things about face masks, but I still don’t know if they are essential? Ron, St Brendans (Crowthorne)
Whilst medical face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) must, of course, be reserved for NHS staff and frontline key workers, the latest government guidelines state that individuals must wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces, ie a setting where you cannot maintain two-metre distancing, for example, on public transport. Therefore, for the everyman, wearing a face mask is a way of facilitating a semblance of normality; albeit returning back to work or spending more time out and about.
I asked this last time: can my son get his hair cut yet? Violet, Tremona (Watford)
Unfortunately, the same answer remains: no. Barbers and hairdressers will remain closed until July, as proposed by the government. But like every aspect of its ‘three phase plan’, elements of this can change depending on the number of new positive cases. But when they do, similar to the above with the retail sector, your local salon will look and behave very differently. Learning from other countries, more specifically Germany where hairdressers have re-emerged, these outlets no longer have waiting areas and are requesting that all customers wear a face mask, including the individual cutting the hair.
I really miss relaxing at the weekend watching the football; do you have any idea when it will return to our screens? Trevor, Greenhill (Barnet)
At present, the Premier League remains halted, but although an official date for its resumption is yet to be announced, the government have green-lighted the sport to proceed behind closed doors, ie without an audience.
Are we still clapping every Thursday? Mabel, St Lauras (Kings Langley)
Yes, very much so. While the event was originally held in honour of the NHS, the ‘Clap For Our Carers’ campaign now pays tribute to all key workers, including those working in the social care sector. First held on Thursday 26th March, the occasion still demonstrates the public’s appreciation for the tireless commitment of those responding on the frontline, and has since seen people up-and-down the country move away from a ‘doorstep applause’ to instead host events that coincide with the 8pm ‘clap’. An example of this is B&M Care’s The Chadwick Care Home in Hoddesdon: organised by care staff, the home enjoys a karaoke sing-a-long that, over the past weeks, has encouraged friends, relatives, neighbouring households and emergency key workers to ‘unite across distance’ to collectively celebrate these key sectors who operate in the local community.
What are these antibody tests that will be available soon? Roland, St Josephs (Tring)
Antibody testing has attracted significant attention. This test is a simple blood test that looks for antibodies in the blood to see whether a person has had the virus. However, having antibodies does not automatically mean you cannot become sick or harbour the virus and pass it on to others. One of the great unknowns during this pandemic is the number of people who have been infected but have not developed symptoms. Therefore, by using a test of this nature, it will provide more accuracy into the number of cases, and be used as surveillance moving forward. A date that these tests will be available is yet to be confirmed.