We are in lockdown.
Supermarket shelves are stripped bare. Flights are grounded. Workers have been laid off; furloughed; transformed into primary school teachers. A Conservative government has nationalised the railways and is paying people not to work. And this is still only week two. In less than a fortnight, Britain has experienced the kind of social and political upheaval that normally only comes when you guillotine some royals, or storm a winter palace. But is this a brief moment of national solidarity, or a ‘new normal’?
That all depends on how long the coronavirus crisis lasts. Experts believe a vaccine for Covid-19 (the disease caused by the Sars-CoV-2 virus) is still at least 18 months away, which makes Donald Trump’s promises that the US will “reopen” in three weeks seem optimistic at best. In the UK, the more likely reality was laid out in a report by researchers at Imperial College London, which estimated that elements of the new normal – social distancing, self-isolation, rolling lockdowns – could last until September 2021. So what’s likely to happen as the coronavirus crisis continues?