Opinion from Lucy Stephenson
DO you remember this time last year when many of us hoped that the pandemic could be over by Christmas?
And then think back a couple of months when we were all planning for a summer without restrictions, of large groups gatherings, music festivals and holidays.
Yet here we are again, the final lifting of restrictions delayed once more, traffic light systems reintroduced and the whole of the UK due to turn red next week.
Those large events we’d hoped to attend are being postponed or called off, tourists who haven’t had their second jabs are being forced to cancel left, right and centre in the face of ten days of isolation – among them some couples due to get married in the Island, and hundreds and hundreds of Islanders are currently in isolation having been identified as direct contacts of the active cases identified in the past two weeks or so.
Things were looking so hopeful not that long ago and the mood was buoyant.
But, as they say, we are where we are, and with the opening of borders at a time when new variants were driving a new wave of cases in the UK there was always going to be some increase in cases.
The speed of that increase and its implications just appears to have taken some of us by surprise.
And it feels different this time – more than a year after the outbreak of the pandemic threw our lives into chaos some people appear to have had enough.
There are frustrations about not only the delays to the restrictions being lifted but about the isolation rules in particular. Whereas this time last year most were content – although perhaps a little annoyed if it happened to them – with the isolation requirements for those who had been direct contacts of active cases, that patience and sense of civil duty appears to be wearing thin for some.
And there are those especially angry when it comes to children and teenagers being forced to isolate, as many currently are.
As a result of this pressure, ministers have now said they will consider whether those who have been double jabbed should have to follow the same isolation rules if they come into contact with someone subsequently found to have Covid.
Now, I’m no scientist, but let’s start by pointing out that being fully vaccinated does not make you immune to Covid, or to passing it on.
It appears to reduce the chances, yes, but do remember that one of the first cases to have kicked off this third Jersey wave was an incoming traveller who had been doubled jabbed.
And in many ways the rules that are in place now have served us pretty well so far.
But more importantly than all of that, I want to know where the ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality which united people so effectively a year ago has gone? And why is everyone getting so angry, sometimes with one another, all of a sudden?
You can quote figures about hospitalisations, deaths, cases, ages and vulnerabilities at me all you like, but the reality is we have spent more than 12 months at the mercy of Covid and not everyone in our community is happy – or comfortable – to say this is our new normal, let’s just get on with it, lift restrictions and cope with it like flu.
We will have to get there one day, very likely, but there are still people in our community feeling vulnerable, confused, nervous, scared even.
And who can blame them? It’s been a tough year and the latest setback will have done nothing to improve their confidence.
We seem to have lost perspective on some of the issues these last couple of weeks, and returned to our selfish pre-pandemic ways.
And that includes those people trying to jump the vaccination queue so that they can more easily go on holiday.
Yes, policy decisions need to be based on scientific research, expert advice and with a healthy dose of balance. And our decision makers must of course consider local businesses and the economy as part of that delicate balancing act.
But as a community we should be more aware of what those around us may be going through as we spout off about what is right and wrong in these trying circumstances we currently find ourselves.
We can still move forward towards that new normal and acceptance of a future living with Covid and the practicalities of how that will work. But we cannot rush that process.
Patience, understanding and a sense of community spirit has got us through some very tough times over the past 18 months, why stop now?