Our presenter James Webster considers how leaving lockdown will be a much slower process than the sort of liberation from the Occupation which will be celebrated next week.
We have been living with some form of restrictions on our normal lives for so many weeks I am struggling to remember how many weeks it has been going for. I know that tomorrow night will be the seventh Saturday evening where I’ve joined a group of friends for an online quiz night. If that’s any indication we are getting close to living through two months of this now.
While all of us know these restrictions are important to keep the most vulnerable in our islands safe from potentially fatal health risks, we would not be human if we did not also want to see a return to normality.
Today in both Guernsey and Jersey we have seen the two islands' governments set out the beginnings of their frameworks for easing lockdown. Each island is choosing to lift restrictions in slightly different ways.
In Guernsey the concept of social bubbles will allow people from different households to pair up and meet indoors – perhaps allowing different generations of families to see one another for the first time in weeks. Grandparents will hug their grandchildren again. Or maybe those in relationships who do not live together will be able to visit one another again. But the mixing of households must take place indoors, not outdoors.
In Jersey a different approach. From tomorrow people will be able to leave their homes for up to four hours rather than two and not just for essential exercise, shopping or medical care. Leaving home for recreation will be allowed so long as social distancing is maintained. Those who live alone should feel the benefit of being less isolated. But they cannot visit other people’s homes.
And beyond that in both islands now a confirmation of what we have probably all known for some weeks, no matter how much we hoped it would not be the case. Restrictions will be around for many months. It was interesting reading the subtitles of Jersey’s Chief Minister’s script which he noticeably deviated from several times. When he was due to describe measures lasting for “weeks or months” he didn’t read the “months”. Does he fear that the public is not ready to be told the island has many more months of these measures?
Next week we are due to celebrate 75 years since Liberation. Whenever I see the pictures of the crowds on the streets and the unbridled joy they display at the end of the Occupation I am left thinking what an incredible release of emotion that day would have been.
There are some parallels between our current situation and the Occupation in terms of it being a situation which affects every single person living in our islands. But this time, we will not have a day when things just go back to normal. Our freedoms we hold so dear will not return overnight. This time we will get them back small piece by small piece. We won’t have a Liberation Day from coronavirus. Indeed, will ever now NOT be part of our lives in some form? I suspect not.