Pandemic life: "Our responsibility to protect others has not ended"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

She has now turned those columns into a book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House.

The pandemic robbed Jenny of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"We can never seem to make our mind up in England, can we. We are either wrapped up in coats and wellies, outraged that it’s July, or having tantrums in the early hours because the entire cast of A Bug’s Life enters our rooms if we leave the windows open or we risk heat exhaustion if we keep them closed. I have removed my duvet from its cover and feel like I’m sleeping in a budget hotel bed minus the heavenly air-con, and I have many times caught myself contorting my body into a shape that allows me to wash my feet in the sink to save my housemates from resenting my presence. As I’m writing this I’m now realising that all this time I could have just been using the handheld shower in the bathtub. Maybe the heat has gone to my head.

"But regardless, we all like to have a little moan about the weather now and then, and I’m sure I’ll be doing exactly the same at the weekend once the predicted storm begins. Scrolling through social media will often leave you viewing reams of messages complaining or whinging about one thing or another. Sometimes for a valid cause, but often because their Amazon Prime parcel arrived in two days rather than one or Waitrose ran out of edible flowers. I admit that they are a great source of comedy, especially when reading the incensed and just as humorous replies, but when I pick up my phone for a relaxing break it can often come off a little strong.

"This week’s hot (and this time not the weather) topic of debate surrounds the complete removal of restrictions in England surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Masks are slowly becoming a thing of the past and hugging seems less and less tentative, yet it seems that more people are angered by the shift than relieved. And I can understand why. Like every good debate there is always two sides of the story and I’m not yet exactly sure where my own viewpoint falls. More and more are fully vaccinated, we certainly can’t wear masks forever and they haven’t been proven to be completely effective anyway. But what about those who for medical reasons cannot yet receive their vaccination? Or the fully vaccinated who are asymptomatic and continue to spread the virus unknowingly? You cannot frown upon someone who follows government guidance and opts to bin their face covering because it’s just that: government guidance. But our responsibility to protect others as well as ourselves has not ended as abruptly as the restrictions.

"For now, I have kept my mask on my face rather than in the bin. (Aside from a trip to the toilet in the pub that felt practically illegal and weirdly naked.) I stand by the often used cliché ‘better safe than sorry’ and will continue to do so until it is clear that the best efforts have been made for the English population to be as vaccinated and as safe as possible."