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laurathompson
3rd December 2020

Who’s to blame? Looking back at Covid restrictions

Who will history students be blaming for the Coronavirus restrictions in the future? Laura Thompson explores the faults for and impacts of the restrictions
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Who’s to blame? Looking back at Covid restrictions
Photo: Georgina Davidson @ The Mancunion

We all know the age-old saying ‘I told you so’ but never has the phrase been so twisted and manipulated than by our own government this year.

Remember the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme they threw in our faces, urging us to emerge from our homes and support our local businesses? What seemed like a great community effort at the time came back to bite us in the backside, when there was yet another spike in Covid-19 cases in the UK.

Of course, we were to blame. It was obviously the fault of the public for going out and socialising in the pubs and restaurants, because the government would never condone that kind of behaviour during a global pandemic, right?

Only, they did.

At some level, it was our fault. We were out seeing people we hadn’t seen in ages, and enjoying ourselves after a tough few months in lockdown. We were doing as we were told it was OK to do. Who could have predicted that, once slightly intoxicated, not all of us would function with our best judgement, and that we might let social distancing slip a little?

Our short break of freedom ended with us having the rug swept out from underneath us, landing the country back in yet another lockdown for winter.

We can’t seem to do anything right anymore; it’s like the most confusing and dangerous game of ‘Simon says’ ever. 

With Lockdown 2.0 finally over, tensions are still rising, and among the student population in particular. People are scared. Will we be able to come back to Manchester after Christmas? Will we get fenced inside our accommodation again? How are we meant to make friends, and look after our mental health, when the university is too busy covering their own behinds to actually make an effort with the students who are paying them for an education?

Personally, I feel solely blaming the government is the easy way out. They’re the bad guy and we are the guinea pigs given no choice when it comes to our living conditions anymore.

How the government has treated people, in the North in particular, is atrocious, and inhumane even – but I ask you, what would you do? Shut everything down sooner? Keep us in lockdown even longer the first time round? These are all situations that, with hindsight working in our favour, we can now see would have been far superior to what we actually did.

We all think we have the answers now, but would we have had them then, when it really mattered?

I must make clear that I do not agree with how the government has handled Covid-19 at all. If anything, I think you’d struggle to find a suitable comparison in history to a mess so big in such a short time. 

The current Tier three lockdown in Manchester is even stricter than it was previously. While our non-essential shops and gyms have opened once again, the hospitality industry has been left out to dry. Pubs and restaurants in Tier three regions will only be allowed to provide takeaway and delivery services.

As someone who has worked in hospitality this year, I can tell you how damaging lockdown has been to the people in this industry, employees and employers alike. How is an industry built on socialising meant to survive social distancing?

And not only will businesses face the hardest Christmas season they’ve ever known, the public will too. We were all stumped on how to shop during a national lockdown. With only a few weeks till Christmas, it seems far too late to be buying up gifts now. 

I am stuck on gift ideas this holiday season; usually I would stroll around the Arndale Centre and wait for inspiration to strike. But this year, the only thing striking shoppers is the length of the queues or the freezing cold wind when waiting outside their favourite shop.

This winter will be like no other in history. I can’t wait for history students in the future to look back and analyse what led us to the state we are in now. I am very interested to see how hindsight affects our opinion on our current situation; will we see restrictions as a necessary evil that worked out in the end, or, as the pest we see it as now?

Only time will tell.


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