Visiting the Wallace Monument, September 2020

Can we please keep some aspects of social distancing even when the pandemic is over?

Possibly unpopular opinion here for you, but I’ll just say it anyway: now that our months of shielding are over (For now, at least: there’s an ominous feeling of foreshadowing to that statement this morning, as we wait for Boris Johnson to make his latest statement about Covid-19 restrictions…), and we’ve been able to return to the “real” world again, I’ve discovered that I quite like some of the changes we’ve found in it – specifically the ones relating to social distancing. 

Now, I should probably say here that I’m not talking about things like the ‘Rule of Six’, or anything designed to keep families apart: I know I’m not the only one to have struggled with some of those restrictions, and trust me – the time when we can all see our loved ones freely again, without fear of… well, death, really … can’t come quickly enough. It really can’t. And while I don’t have any issue with having to wear a mask in public spaces for as long as it’s deemed necessary, I can’t claim to enjoy doing it, so that one’s not exactly something I’d love to see continue forever either. 

Visiting the Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland

As for some of the other current restrictions, though, I have to admit, I’m struggling to understand why they weren’t ALREADY seen as informal “rules” of society anyway. Seriously, though: people shouldn’t have to be TOLD not to invade other people’s personal space, should they? That should just be a given. Why would you even WANT to stand closer than two metres to a complete stranger, anyway?

Maybe it’s just the introvert in me talking, but crowded spaces and people who stand too close make me uncomfortable even WITHOUT the added fear of contracting Covid-19 from them, so I have to admit, something like the 2 metre rule, say, really appeals to my antisocial side: so much so, that I’d love to make that one a rule for ALL TIME, rather than just for crazy pandemic times. Don’t you think, though? THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION, PEOPLE…

Take supermarket shopping, for instance. We haven’t done it a lot, granted, but when we have gone into a shop, I’ve found it pretty refreshing to stand in line at the checkout without some complete stranger constantly stepping on my heels and breathing down my neck.

Similarly, it’s nice being able to take cash out of an ATM, say (Oh, who am I kidding: AS IF I ever have cash to take out of an ATM…) without worrying that the person looking over your shoulder is probably planning to grab your money as soon as it appears (Because why else would they be standing close enough to see your PIN?), and when we all had to get into a lift last week, I was absolutely delighted to see the note on the door saying that only one family at a time were permitted to use it: so, no more awkward staring at strangers in a tiny space, and praying the lift doesn’t break down and force you to spend several hours incarcerated with them. Hallelujah! Why wasn’t this a thing ALREADY? 

(Confession: it actually WAS a thing for me already…. Because I’m exactly the kind of awkward that will see people get into the lift before me and decide to just take the stairs rather than insert myself into a too-small space with a group of OMGSTRANGERS. Yes I am…)

I like it that the delivery courier just rings the doorbell and leaves your parcel on the doorstep now, without any interaction other than a quick wave through the window. I like not having to make excuses not to meet up with people in large groups, when smaller ones are much more fun for me anyway. I’ve enjoyed visiting some of Scotland’s tourist attractions this summer and getting to see them without the crowds for once: I know limiting visitor numbers isn’t a great long-term solution for these places, because they rely on ticket sales to be able to stay open, but there’s no denying that it makes for a far better visitor experience, really. The photo in this post, for instance, was taken at the Wallace Monument last week, and, as you can see, we had the viewing platform all to ourselves, which not only made us feel a whole lot safer, Covid-wise, but also allowed us to enjoy the view without worrying that we were ruining it for someone else…

So, 2020 has been a truly horrific year so far, for SO many reasons: but I’m actually not sure I’d describe social distancing as one of them. 

Can we keep it, please? Or some of it, at least? 

COMMENTS
  • Anna RIDDELL-ROBERTS

    REPLY

    100% agree! Have thought this all the way through. Why can it not remain a thing that you don’t get too close to a total stranger unless you have to? I personally will keep it up! And frankly, some of the germ reduction measures in shops, such as sanitizing and cleaning trolleys should stay too! I also really liked it the first few days of total lockdown when the road outside my house was completely empty of cars, all I could hear was the wind, the birds (especially our resident owl and buzzards) and the sheep, and it was absolute bliss. We slept with the window wide every night. Now we are back to keeping it open a crack lest the idiot boy racers at 3am wake us with their roaring engines.

    September 22, 2020
  • Leah Steele

    REPLY

    100% with you!
    I also love that it’s created a huge reduction in peer pressure – ‘go on, everyone else will be there’ is now an invitation to get fined, not a strong arm to come to your friend’s cousin’s budgerigar’s wedding to the cat!

    September 22, 2020
  • Sharon

    REPLY

    I’m loving not getting awkward hugs from every Tom, Dick and Harry.

    September 22, 2020
  • Hanka

    REPLY

    100% agree. As an introvert, I love living in Switzerland. In some ways, they perfectly suit my nature, for example, this joke (I don´t consider it a joke, I absolutely love it): The Swiss were happy that the two-meter distance rule had been canceled – at least they could return to the usual five-meter distance. I love my Swiss people 🙂

    September 22, 2020
  • Amy

    REPLY

    I’m with you. 😀 I love having carte blanche to cross the street to avoid people! I did it in the Before Times, but I always felt guilty/awkward etc. now I’m just being responsible! Win.

    September 22, 2020
  • Nicola

    REPLY

    Hard agree! I love that people stay 2m from me when I’m out walking instead of me always being the weirdo avoiding other people. I even want to see masking remain in a reduced form; in places like Hong Kong it’s long been standard to throw on a mask before using public transport if you’re feeling poorly, and I’d love to see that retained. When I was buying cloth masks I kept thinking back to a few years ago when I woke up the morning of my flight home from the UK to Canada with a cold, and spent the entire flight utterly mortified as I sat sniffling next to strangers – I’ve decided that any time I travel in the future I’m tossing a few cloth masks in my carry-on JUST IN CASE that happens again, something that would never have occurred to me back then.

    September 24, 2020
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