By Sarah Livingston
The United Kingdom woke up to strict restrictions amounting to a lockdown this morning. The new rules came last night as Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation, in what is being called the largest restriction on British liberty in peacetime. The UK’s total amount of cases is just over 6650, with just under 500 of those in Scotland.
The UK’s new measures warn that people should only leave their homes for:
- Shopping only for basic necessities and doing so as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise daily alone or only with members of your household – running, walking, cycling, for example.
- Medical needs or to provide care for a vulnerable person, including moving those under 18 between their parent’s homes
- Essential travel to and from work if it absolutely cannot be done at home
While people are trying to wrap their heads around what this means, some are wondering if the UK Government has acted too late. Eloise Christoffersen, a Danish student studying at the University of the West of Scotland, says she has concerns.
“I do think its a bit too late because obviously some of the damage has already been done. In Ayr for example, there has been no shut downs of anything until now of course, but people have still been going to the beach, people have still been gathering near halls and stuff like that so hopefully now with the lockdown, people will take it a bit more seriously than before.”
“Hopefully now with the lockdown, people will take it a bit more seriously than before.”-Eloise Christoffersen
Other countries have acted quickly. In Canada, restrictions were in place well before the country’s total cases reached 2000. The country is not in a full lockdown at the moment, but many provinces and cities have declared a state of emergency. This allows their local and provincial governments to enforce stricter rules in an effort to flatten the curve. In Nova Scotia, checkpoints have been introduced at airports, highways, and ferry terminals and all travellers from outside the province must self isolate for 14 days.
Briea Malloy is a postgraduate student at York University in Toronto. After the Canadian Government began imposing new restrictions, she decided to go back to her family’s home in Nova Scotia.
“I think what hit me the most about the experience of seeing the government’s response was how fast it all seemed to happen.”-Briea Malloy
Lindsay Wilson was backpacking in New Zealand when the outbreak began to affect the country. She returned home to Canada this week. She says that the Government in New Zealand handled things well.
“They acted quite quickly. They were the first country in the world to put the 14 day quarantine measure in place for anyone who is returning from overseas, including their residents and I think they only had 6 cases at that time so they stopped the spread quite quickly.”
“As soon as I landed in Canada, I found out that New Zealand would be implementing a military enforced lockdown”-Lindsay Wilson
New Zealand’s lockdown goes into place March 24 and will last a month.
Unlike New Zealand, there is no confirmation as of yet that there will be military presence here in the UK. However, the police will have the power to enforce rules, issue fines, and break up gatherings of 2 or more people.
The UK lockdown is in place for at least the next three weeks. Shops, sit-in restaurants, and non-essential services have been ordered to shut. In just a few short weeks, the UK’s risk level has gone from Low to Very High.