How London is reacting to Covid 19|GianFranco Belloli|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2020.05.07
  • How London is reacting to Covid 19
With this Covid 19 emergency the public healthcare system is suffering both for costs and for the pressure the medical personnel are undergoing here in the UK as well as elsewhere around the world.
Healthcare remains free in England, but pragmatism has led to many services being cut for costs related reasons but also to leave room to Covid 19 patients in our hospitals therefore many surgeries and treatments have been cancelled or postponed for now.
After following with disbelief on social media and the news for weeks the situation in other European countries, like in Italy or Spain, and after the initial horror like they were watching some kind of horror film, the British began to realize that it was coming here too.
And so it did.
On the Friday evening when Boris Johnson announced the restrictions for the first time, I had to travel to Central London to get the set up from the IT department at my office so I could work from home and the city was already completely empty, and scary.
I used to travel to the city every day by bus or by Tube and I had never seen it so empty, not even at 3 a.m. when I was going back home from the clubs. The premises in the centre were all open and yet nobody was inside.
The pubs usually full of all the young people, especially on a Friday night, in the area of Shoreditch nightlife were completely empty.
The British usually meet in the pubs on Friday nights after work to drink together.
In front of the most popular bars there is always a queue to get in.
Now even London is empty like in one of those apocalyptic zombie films.
Something never seen before.
This extreme situation perhaps gives us the opportunity to resume contact, humanly speaking, with the deepest part of ourselves some say but I do not know what social and economic repercussion this disease will have on the United Kingdom or the world in the long run.
It was fairly sudden here in England because we went from a simple warning to wash our hands to the notice of police checks and fines if caught outside gathering with other people.
Since the 24th of March, Prime Minister Johnson has in fact announced an obligation to stay at home (except for purchases of food and medications, for a daily session of outdoor exercise alone and to go to work if physical presence is necessary), then a closure of public premises (except grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and some other types of important public services) and the prohibition of gathering for more than two people in public places.
Before that Tuesday in March life went on as if nothing was happening around the world, but there were plenty of warnings that, in my opinion, were not taken seriously enough by our political leaders.
Money all of a sudden is considered dirty and the use of cash and coins has been prohibited by restrictions in many places which has serious repercussions also on almsgiving and I saw for the first time young homeless people crying sheltered on the benches of the bus stops.
I had seen some similar situations of social abandonment in India and Brazil but I never expected to see that in London.
Mine is not necessarily an outcry to the government which has to handle a serious and never-seen-before situation but I certainly feel like I have been catapulted in a surreal and awful nightmare and the people leading us do not know where they are leading us to.
Most people here are feeling scared and a bit lost and there is certainly a lot of uncertainty, pardon my pun.
Many of my friends are from other European countries and are here on a visa so they are afraid to lose their jobs and not to be guaranteed a salary next month.
The good news is that European citizens residing permanently in the United Kingdom are entitled to the same free health protection guaranteed to British citizens and treatment is provided for emergencies also for European citizens who are temporarily on the British territory.
The imposed restrictions have a temporary duration but they may be extended.
British public transport is working but there has been a reduction in the frequency of regional trains and the British government calls for avoiding non-essential travel.
The British government has also announced a series of measures to support the economy and their citizens and to temporarily suspend leasing payments to help families in need.
Many fundraisers of all kinds have started to collect food and other items for people in need and I have sent myself some funds although I prefer not to go out for the time being since I’m quite busy working from home too.
I use a service of delivery of groceries which most supermarkets and shops offer now for free.

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  • GianFranco Belloli
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I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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