Covid: Blaming the public for rising number of infections is not going the help – Ayesha Hazarika

The battle against coronavirus will not be won by yelling at people or snitching on your neighbours, but by emotional persuasion, writes Ayesha Hazarika

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 12:30 pm
Not everyone seems to be able to stop their coronavirus mask from falling down towards their chin (Picture: Mark Lennihan/AP)
Not everyone seems to be able to stop their coronavirus mask from falling down towards their chin (Picture: Mark Lennihan/AP)

I took part in BBC Scotland’s Debate Night on Wednesday and the first question was whether we were all fatigued. The simplicity of the question was on point. The answer is, of course, yes. Fatigue dominates every aspect of our life and I’m not just talking about the peri-menopause in my case.

There is a collective exhaustion gripping the nation. This pandemic had a terrifying but undeniable novelty value in round one.

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We had never imagined anything like this. There was fear but also fascination. It was a bit boys’ and girls’ own adventure.

All that planning, hunkering down and stockpiling bog roll. Then there was wholesome stuff – spending more time with the kids, getting signed up to 83 different neighbourly Whatsapp groups, and Thursday night on the doorstep clapping for carers.

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There was such a sense of collective duty and moral purpose. I felt like a modern-day heroine from Bletchley Park doing my bit for Queen and country, albeit lying on the sofa, watching a job lot of crap telly, and binge drinking on Zoom.

I almost miss those days. I’m still doing a lot of lounging around – don’t get me wrong – but round two feels very different.

We know more about this disease. It’s not a mysterious stranger. It’s now a boring pain in the arse. Well, not literally.

We know that it’s persistent, that it loves a crowd and any kind of joy and can let rip. It’s definitely good at a party.

We know that every time we open things up, cases go up. We know that most people don’t want to take a Darwinian approach which leaves the old and vulnerable to fend for themselves, but we know what’s coming down the track because so much of the economy is mothballed.

Jobs, businesses, life-long ambitions and dreams are gone or about to slide out of view.

Much of this has been like watching a very slow-motion car crash. For months, many people at all ages and stages of life have been waking up with a knot in their stomach about their future or their children’s.

And this feeling will creep on through the winter and beyond. All this uncertainty and quiet, deep anxiety takes its toll, mentally and physically.

For young people, it’s been even worse, not even having the chance to properly start their adult lives.

We’re all so sick of it. We’re tired of the government’s bungled messaging which swings wildly from jingoistic optimism, instructing us to go on a bender, to finger-pointing and blame-casting.

We’re tired of the lack of honesty, the endless incompetence and being taken for idiots.

We’re also tired about what lies ahead because we know this is messy and here to stay unless there’s a medical miracle.

And to be fair, even political leaders across these shores are fatigued by it all. We could all do well to take a moment to acknowledge and lean into our collective weariness.

And that’s where a lot of the recent “rule-breaking” and infection rise is coming from.

There’s no point being all judgey and holier than thou and I include myself here. This battle will not be won by yelling at people or snitching on your neighbours.

It will be via emotional persuasion. We have to remember it’s really hard for everyone.

Although I still reserve my right to dish out intense side-eye to people on the tube wearing masks around their chins while swigging cans of lager.

Sorry. Not okay buster.

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