By Chris York
We can always learn a thing or two from nature and right now absolutely everyone in the UK should be taking a cue from these seagulls.
— Shaun Neill (@ShaunNeill2) March 25, 2020
That’s right, as you’re no doubt aware the country is in lockdown and strict social distancing rules are in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Before you’re tempted to say “well no shit, Sherlock”, it appears the message isn’t getting through to all of us – just take these five examples.
The radio caller who would literally die for a day at the beach
Given the current circumstances, the following call on BBC Radio Solent earlier this week qualifies as one of the most painful listens imaginable.
It’s so unbelievable that we’ve gone to the trouble of transcribing the entire conversation between host Pat Sissons and 75-year-old Chris at the end of this article. Or you can listen to it here…
Police sent a family home after they were caught having a day out at the beach during the lockdown.
Officers from North Wales Police said they stopped the family from Merseyside as they arrived in Llanfairfechan for a day out on Wednesday and were told to turn around and go home.
In a post on Facebook, the force’s Conwy Coastal unit said: “Officers are out patrolling and it is pleasing to see that most people are sticking to the government advice.
“But Inspector Daf Curry and PCSO Sara Owen did speak to a family of five who’d travelled from Merseyside to Llanfairfechan for a day at the seaside, to advise them this was not essential travel and to go home.”
The park full of people who think sunbathing counts as ‘essential travel’
— Police Hour (@PoliceHour) March 24, 2020
This casual outdoor barbecue
A group of around 20 people were spotted “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” and tucking into a barbecue buffet during the coronavirus lockdown.
West Midlands Police said their neighbourhood officers were on patrol in Coventry just after 2pm on Tuesday when they smelt food cooking and smoke rising near a block of flats.
Unbelievably, we’ve just had to deal with 20+ people having a BBQ!! Please listen to government advice else this will get worse and will last longer!! #RIPBBQ#COVID19#StayHome#Foleshill#Coventrypic.twitter.com/INhXbCjd05
— Foleshill Police (@FoleshillWMP) March 24, 2020
They found the group, which included a toddler and people believed to be in their 60s, who were “freely mingling” despite the government’s orders to stay indoors.
The force said the officers ended the gathering by tipping the barbecue over and insisting the group dispersed to their homes.
This house full of ravers
— Free Radio News (@freeradionews) March 26, 2020
But there is psychology behind the way some people have reacted to the lockdown – it’s similar to the stages of grief with some people still in denial about the huge implications of what is to come, an expert has said.
Reflecting on how the public is reacting to the crisis, Dr Semmens-Wheeler, who is based at Birmingham City University, told the PA news agency: “I think fear could be something. People tend to go into the stages of grief. You have fear and denial.
“So people tend to deny things and it’s almost a way of deferring dealing with it, so actually putting off accepting that this is the reality because they’re afraid of the implications.”
She added: “It’s almost like we keep doing things as normally as possible as we begin to accept what’s happening, because it’s quite overwhelming, and there’s a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty is difficult for most of us.
“I think that many of us want to have a sense of control and when we don’t have that we can feel very unsafe, and so we can become numb to it as though it’s not real.”
She said she has noticed “quarantine shaming” on social media and people using the word “idiot” in relation to those not following social distancing advice.
“I see that as the anger stage. People are angry. They’re angry at others,” she said.
Dr Semmens-Wheeler said she does not think people have reached acceptance of how grave the situation is, and suggested one of the reasons could be what she described as a “lack of clarity”.
She said: “The situation is very fluid. As human beings we don’t like that fluidity. We like things to be stable and predictable, because that helps to give us a sense of control over our surroundings.”
That call in full…
Caller: “You’re a strapping great young man, why are you so worried about this virus? I can’t believe it.”
Host: “Because if I get it, I’ll pass it on to other people.”
Caller: “Well, that’s too bad isn’t it.”
Host: “What do you mean, it’s too bad?”
Caller: “I don’t care whether we have a lockdown or not, I hope we don’t, because regardless of that, if you’re going to get it, you’ll get it anyway.”
Host: “That’s absolute nonsense, Chris.”
Caller: “No it isn’t, no it isn’t. And people have been cooped up indoors all winter, and we’ve had the most glorious weekend weather for ages. And you want to stop people getting out?”
Host: “Where were you at the weekend?”
Caller: “Well I went shopping on Saturday to Asda, then I went to [the] bay and had a walk along the front and sat on the beach a while because it was so beautiful. Unfortunately my husband couldn’t come with me because he’s recovering from a stroke. Yesterday we went to the cemeteries to put flowers on our mothers’ graves. Then we called in to see a friend.”.
Host: “You called in to see a friend? How old is your friend?”
Caller: “Yes, and she didn’t mind at all. She’s 78.”
Host: “78! You are irresponsible.”
Caller: “No I’m not. You are causing panic.”
Host: “I’m not causing panic, this is the government advice that you are flouting.”
Caller: “No. The government are stupid. I mean Boris Johnson is an idiot, so I’m not even going to go down there.”
Host: “Chris, I sincerely hope that you are wrong, but if you went around all those places – the shops, where we know people are not staying apart – and then you went to see your 78-year-old friend, you are irresponsible.”
Caller: “No, you are a frightened man and I can’t understand why.”
Host: “Because I don’t want to pass this on, I don’t want to get it and I don’t want to pass it on.”
Caller: “Don’t be silly, you’d survive it, what are you worried about?”
Host: “But the person I pass it to might not. Your 78-year-old friend might not.”
Caller: “I’m 75!”
Host: “Then you might not.”
Caller: “If we get it, we don’t actually care. We’ve had our lives so stuff it, you know?”
Host: “So you’re happy to die for a day at the beach?”