As we come out of lockdown, there are a lot of things to consider as we learn to adapt to this ‘new normal’ of living with Covid-19. For some, it is ‘freedom day’, the day we were praying for the past two years. For others, it’s too soon with Covid cases actually rising in recent weeks.
It is now government policy that everyone who works more than three days a week must be tested twice a week. This is a free process and you can order a pack of seven, which you can then report the results of through the government website.
It is a quick and simple process, albeit a bit uncomfortable. We at Community Action Wirral are testing ourselves twice a week to ensure our safety and those around us. If you do test positive, however, do please self-isolate and notify others.
We are excited though that the easing of restrictions means that there will be more events to talk about, such as the themed-weekends at Woodside Ferry Village and the reopening of Byrne Avenue Baths this September. Also, we’ll be able to open up our community hub for you to come by The Lauries and use our hot desks and have a coffee. However, some organisations have feelings of what is known as ‘reopening anxiety’.
Reopening anxiety is anxiety triggered by the end of COVID-19-related restrictions such as mask-wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and limiting social contact. We have lived with these things for the past two years and we are now slowly removing them from our lives. Many of us have almost forgotten how we lived without these restrictions.
For many though, the prospect of going back to an office or work in general is bringing feelings of anxiety. Some jobs made it easier to work from home, with constant work calls and videos chats on Teams, whilst also being able to look after young children and lockdown puppies. Others cannot wait to get back for the company and better Wi-Fi connection.
What Charities Can Do For Their Staff:
- AVOID BLANKET RULES ON OFFICE WORKING – Every staff member will have different needs and anxieties. Adopting a flexible approach with a range of options will help to meet people where they are. Flexibility also gives staff and charities the opportunity to ‘try on’ different ways of working to find the best options.
- TRANSITION – You don’t have to flick a switch from old arrangements to new ones. A gradual transition may be less jarring for everyone.
- SPACE TO SHARE – Create or highlight spaces where people can share their feelings about re-opening. These spaces are also an opportunity to listen to concerns and ideas.
- INTERNAL COMMS – In a remote or changing work environment good internal comms are a vital tool for reducing uncertainty and the anxiety that comes with it. Communicate early and often about planned changes and how staff will be supported through them.
- TIME TO PLAN – Give staff time to plan for required in-person meetings or events by providing plenty of information well in advance.
- A NEW ROUTINE – Routine can help us speed up the process of becoming familiar with new ways of working. Encouraging staff to think about the type of work that they want to do when they are together and when they are working remotely may help provide structure to the week.
- SPACE, TIME, AND TOOLS FOR REFLECTION – Reflecting on change can help to process it. Techniques like journaling or mindfulness encourage recognition and acceptance of feelings about change.
- WORKLOAD AND PRIORITIES – Setting clear organisational priorities for the final two quarters of the year and reducing workloads accordingly will help create space for this transitional period and new ideas for the future.
- REST – The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us. Constant change depletes energy levels – we need to rest.
Read more on this topic here.
It’s not just organisations though that have anxiety over the ending of lockdown, an article by Home Care says that disabled people are also worried about its implications.
Scientists fear that this summer will see 200 deaths as the restrictions are lifted. As such, campaigners have been arguing for a longer lockdown and reinstation of restrictions, the lack of which threatens the vulnerbale people of our community.
Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “Disabled people, and people with compromised immune systems, those formerly known as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people, will be faced with the choice of shielding under their own determination with no support, or facing increased risk of infection by going out in wider society. The government has once again dismissed the lives and voices of disabled people with plans for the reckless removing of safety measures.”
Mr Mallick added: “We have learnt that for the vast majority of people, it is no hardship to distance in public spaces, and to wear a mask, a practice which in many Asian countries is standard during non-pandemic times.”
This worry is due to not only some medical conditions prohibiting their ability to have a vaccine, but the isolation another enforced lockdown would bring.
The NHS website details that if you are a vulnerable person, then this is what you should do:
- get vaccinated – everyone aged 18 or over can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments now
- wait for at least 14 days after you’ve had your 2nd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before meeting with people
- meet people outside if possible
- open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
- ask friends and family to take a rapid lateral flow test before visiting you
- limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places
- wear a face covering when it’s hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places
- wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
If you are worried about a vulnerable person as lockdown is lifted, MenCap has information and resources available on the topic which is aimed at disabled people and how the virus will affect you.
Out of the Woods?
We all remember the ‘dark days’ of Covid when we were stuck indoors, unable to see anyone, trying to adjust to homeschooling and working from home. No wonder so many of us were happy when restrictions were eased, only for it to be brought back after a rise in cases. None of us want to go back to that. We want to be able to see our loved ones, make sure our elderly relatives in care homes can have their weekly visits, and that things can essentially go back to normal.
That, however, may not be as simple as we think.
Some people view ‘freedom day’ as simply an end to Covid and all of its restrictions, but the virus has not yet dissipated. it stills exists and isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. Whilst the Prime Minister is allowing nightclubs to re-open and the rule of six to be suspended, measures such as wearing face masks have been up for debate.
The Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram is backing the continued use of face masks post-freedom day. On his Twitter page, Mayor Rotheram said: “I understand people not wanting to wear masks but it’s a minor inconvenience that we know helps to slow the spread of the Coronavirus – and gives people a level of reassurance, especially the vulnerable. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to take their mask off would you?”
He added: “And as infection rates continue to rise we’re all coming into contact with more and more sick people on a daily basis.”
It is not surprising Mayor Rotheham’s stance on the matter as Liverpool City Region’s infection rates have been growing in recent weeks. The infection rates here on the Wirral have also risen. According to the Wirral Council website, the current level is 785 cases per week (in the 7 days to 26 June 2021, the most recent day for which figures are complete).
Below shows the infection rates of the Wirral:
|Number of infected people per 100,000||242.3|
|Percentage of all people tested|
who tested positive in the last 7 days
It is, however, a personal choice to wear a face mask in public as it is no longer being enforced. We, at Community Action Wirral, just wish for everyone to be as safe and comfortable as they can as we come out of this lockdown.