Happy ‘Freedom Day’ one and all!
For those readers outside of England, today, Monday 19th July 2021, has been coined ‘Freedom Day’ – the day that the restrictions we have been under in some capacity for the last 15 months will begin to ease across England. Social distancing, limits on the number of people who can freely socialise together, and the abysmal ‘track and trace’ system will be scrapped. Nightclubs can reopen, sporting events can operate at full capacity and the public can pretty much do whatever they did before the last 15 months happened. Oh, and masks are no longer compulsory in most public places.
Sounds amazing, right?! What could possibly be the problem?
Well, quite simply, the skyrocketing figures.
The number of COVID cases is apparently soaring, and whereas we would have historically been placed into a lockdown, we are instead being let loose with more freedom than we’ve had at any point since last March.
If we have learnt anything from the UK government in the last 15 months, it’s that it will never cease to amaze and astound us with their decision-making abilities.
Should we have been let out at this point? Should the restrictions be eased today? Will all that we’ve done over the last 15 months be for nothing? Will there be another lockdown and further chaos as a result?
Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t looked at the recent data and quite frankly, I won’t be. I haven’t followed the news, or looked at infection rates since around May 2020, so I’m definitely not about to start now. I know COVID is rife, I know people are dying and I know that there is still so much pain and suffering. But looking at the data and depressing media coverage isn’t going to help. Please don’t mistake my apathy for disregard – I am aware that whilst many people are celebrating their supposed freedom today, there are still a lot of people struggling and still being affected by the pandemic, who will continue to be for some time to come. And my heart goes out to every single one of them.
Rightly or wrongly, there will always be people who disagree with restrictions easing too early. But this day was always going to come, whether you agree with it or not.
So what is my problem?
Once again, the Great British public (yes – readers from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, I know you’re exempt from this!) are apparently unable to do anything without getting into a fight over who is right and who is wrong. The amount of people I see arguing on my social media feeds about the personal decision to continue wearing masks, keep on social distancing, or insert any COVID pandemic related activity here, is beyond comprehension. For so long, we have craved freedom, whatever that may mean to us, yet here we are on supposed Freedom Day, fighting with one another over who is going to still wear a mask to Tesco.
We don’t need to shame people who don’t agree with our point of view. Think they’re idiots? Great. We all think other people are idiots, but we don’t need to tell them. I have seen so many instances today of people banging on about the terrible things other people are doing and how they disapprove of their actions on ‘Freedom Day’.
Planning to continue wearing a mask? You’re a sheep.
Planning to ditch the mask and sanitizer? You’re selfish.
Planning to only wear your mask in confined spaces? Pointless.
Planning to suddenly wear your mask 24/7 to prove you care about other people? You’re a martyr.
Planning to go out to the club for the first time in 18 months because they’re now open? You’re the problem.
Jesus fucking christ. Is there even a right thing to do?! And when the hell did a bloody mask become such a political statement?
Going to keep wearing a mask to protect yourself and others? Good for you.
Going to a club tonight (or even at a club at 12:01am this morning)? Great, hope you have a ball.
Never wearing a mask again and refusing to ever be locked down again, and going to cause absolute carnage with anybody who suggests that your behaviour might be irresponsible? Good, hope your sense of personal liberty has been restored.
The sooner we all stop judging each other about our beliefs or the actions we take, the sooner we can all try to pull these broken fragments of our lives back together and start to try and move forward in some way.
As always, Sacha knows where it’s at.
This is my message to you
Hospitality and nightlife, the single most damaged industry throughout this entire pandemic, are opening back up today with no restrictions. Some of these businesses have been closed for 15 months and suffered tremendously as a result of the pandemic. They are opening because they have been told they can do. Young people are heading out to these bars and clubs, because they can do. People are doing things they want to do BECAUSE THEY CAN DO.
These people are NOT the problem. If you don’t agree with the easing of restrictions, that is fine. But boycotting and leaving bad reviews for those same hospitality outlets that are hanging on by a thread trying to survive, tarnishing their reputation because they refuse to implement compulsory mask regulations, or alternately they are still imposing the wearing of masks, is deplorable.
The mask vs anti-mask argument is quickly becoming worse than the vax vs anti-vax argument, and all I can think about are the words of that delightful Yorkshire kid ‘just put it in’t box I’m sick o’ ‘earing ya now’. Seriously though, I’m sick of hearing it now. Don’t want the vaccine? Don’t get one. Don’t want to wear a mask? Don’t wear one.
Do I agree with ‘Freedom Day’?
We have to go back to normal life at some point, I don’t think there’s going to ever be a right time. And no, the pandemic doesn’t just end because it’s Freedom Day, all it means is that I had to wear a mask yesterday whereas I’ll choose to wear one today. But like so many others, I’m tired of COVID and I’m tired of the pandemic. We have been allowed some freedom and I intend on taking it.
We have learned over the last 15 months that leaving anything to public responsibility does not work. It never did. You give people an inch, they take a mile. Look at how people behaved the entire pandemic. Yet the government still continues to make decisions based on ‘social responsibility’ and expects things to work out. My attitude has very much changed since last March, and I’ll very much take what I can get.
There is only one entity to blame for whatever happens after Freedom Day. It consists of the same people who told you that you must stay at home and under no circumstances must you travel further than 5 miles from your house, but travelled 30 miles to ‘test their eyesight’. They are the same people who told you that under no circumstances were you to break the 2 metre distance rule and see your family you haven’t seen for over a year, but who betrayed their families to have a dirty, sordid, outright cringeworthy affair. It’s the same person who decided that every single person who comes into contact with a person who tests positive for COVID must isolate – except them.
Wake up and realise, the people keeping the masks, ditching the masks or going to the clubs aren’t the problem.
To sum up my rant
Do I hope people will continue to do what they can to protect themselves and others? Yes, I do – it’s called being a decent human being. But am I excited by the prospect of going back to gigs, festivals, bars and other events? YOU CAN PUT MONEY ON IT. I am ridiculously excited and cannot wait to get back out there.
The restrictions have been eased, and that is not my fault. So I’ll go out and enjoy them whilst I can, so that if there is another lockdown, I can know that I have at least experienced a bit of fun whilst I could.
People are not sheep for doing what they feel safe doing. If they feel safer staying in and minimising contact with others, it has nothing to do with you. If people are masked up because they can’t afford to not work but have to face the general public who they fear pose a threat, it has nothing to do with you. If people are afraid about the restrictions easing or any of this in any way, it has nothing to do with you. And if people want to make the most of their newfound liberty to no longer have to wear a mask, it has nothing to do with you.
If you’re one of these calling people out for doing what they feel they need to do to continue surviving after the last 15 months – both physically and metaphorically – I suggest you take a long, hard look at yourself.
Let’s end on a high
Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask. Go out or don’t go out. Go on holiday, travel, see your friends and family, or don’t. But remember that for some people, today marks a truly emotional day and the first step towards some form of normality and a life they have missed out on for the last 15 months.