Don’t despair about coronavirus: YOU are smashing it!

PUBLISHED: 07:07 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:09 11 April 2020

Steven Downes says we should give ourselves a clap for our response to coronavirus       Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steven Downes says we should give ourselves a clap for our response to coronavirus Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


If there’s one good thing that is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, it is the outpouring of long overdue love for our NHS workers and other health staff.

Steven Downes says we should give ourselves a clap for our response to coronavirus    Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSteven Downes says we should give ourselves a clap for our response to coronavirus Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

If you’ve been joining in with the Clap for Carers, good on you: it truly is a worthy initiative.

But if you haven’t worn out your mitts, use them to do something else too - give yourself a big pat on the back.

For you are amazing. You are part of a phenomenon that none of us has experienced - and that the police, government and public health experts did not really expect to see.

Unless you are part of a tiny minority, you have gone overnight from normal life and freedom of movement, to lockdown. And you have smashed it.

For very good reasons, not least to hammer home the “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” message, we are seeing lots of photos, TV footage and stories about people having parties, barbecues, sunbathing in parks, playing football, and generally failing to observe the rules.

The behaviour is idiotic, annoying and downright dangerous. But do not despair.

For every idiot, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people like you, who are almost religiously observing the social distancing and travel rules.

Let’s not lose sight of the extraordinary scenes in our town centres, parks, on beaches and in the streets.

They are eerily quiet. Where we would usually expect to be in jostling crowds, we are seeing one jogger, and a “daily exerciser” heading to Tesco Express.

When we encounter someone, we cross the road, step off the pavement, or press ourselves close to the wall to avoid the 2m no-man’s land where the virus might lurk.

Our habits have changed in the blink of an eye - despite the unspoken belief that we would not be capable of such a seismic shift.

This magnificent response to the coronavirus crisis could easily be played down. However, any of us could find an excuse to break the rules.

We all have our own stories, our own sadness, our own difficulties to relate.

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My story is far from tragic, but it has left me feeling dislocated from my loved ones. I live alone, so I am alone. I haven’t had any in-person human interaction for three weeks - and that could stretch into the coming months.

I can’t visit my newborn grandson, cuddle my grandchildren, see any of my children, spend time with my parents, nor go to stay with my partner and her children. I’m doing Zoom and FaceTime quizzes with friends, which is great, but I just want to give a hug to someone I love.

I could come up with a pretext to visit my Mum and Dad, but the “all for one, one for all” spirit that has gripped the UK has given me the determination to be disciplined.

I don’t care a fig for the amateur sleuths who are on the lookout for lockdown breachers to denounce: I am inspired by the silent majority of the selfless.

I’m not special for sticking with it, but I am part of something special - a collective response that makes me certain that the pandemic will be crushed and that Britain will emerge with a stronger spirit and a more robust heart.

We will beat coronavirus, and we will beat it together.

When we do, you will be able to feel proud of the part that you played, by stripping away the wants in your life and concentrating on the needs: by joining a genuine national movement.

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