Today marks 100 days of lockdown in the UK.
In the past 100 days, there have possibly been enough events to mark years worth of news coverage, but this article aims to recap just some of the major events. While we’re not completely out of lockdown, restrictions have been easing and we are all getting back an increasing amount of freedoms. In this article, I’ve tried to take a lighter look at the events of the last 100 days, but its important to never forget the losses of the days. People have and continue to lose their lives from COVID-19 in the UK – each a person and not just a number. While lockdown measures can be eased, life for those who have lost loved ones will never be the same again.
Boris Johnson marked the start of lockdown rather reluctantly, taking to the airwaves in a pre-recorded address on 23rd March to mark the introduction of restrictions, such as the closing of certain businesses and the need for social distancing. This was several weeks after some businesses had already decided to impose social distancing measures and after the closure of many restaurants and food places.
This also marked the start of daily briefings, with Boris Johnson and many other members of the cabinet leading the briefings with experts to ensure that the public and the press were informed of the ongoing events.
The shops were stripped bare, with toilet paper becoming the most valuable commodity in the United Kingdom, as preppers started to stockpile in face of the impending upheaval in our way of life.
23rd March Total UK Coronavirus Deaths Recorded: 359
Before lockdown began – on the 11th March – health minister Nadine Dorries, tested positive for Coronavirus, being the first member of the government to catch the disease. Within weeks, health secretary, Matt Hancock and prime minister, Boris Johnson, had also caught Covid-19.
“Clap for our carers” was launched at the end of March to pay tribute to NHS staff who had been on the front lines fighting to keep Briton’s safe from the pandemic. Annemarie Plas inaugurated the idea, after seeing similar tributes across Europe and in her native Netherlands, with politicians, celebrities and the public all paying tribute to the work of caregivers across the country.
After 7 days of isolation – the government advice, despite other nation’s and international organisations recommending 2 weeks – Matt Hancock was back at work, but Boris Johnson would not have the same luck, continuing to isolate with symptoms after the 7 day isolation period was up.
Boris was continuing to work from the Downing Street flat, but was taken into Guys and St Thomas’ hospital for precautionary tests on 5th April. Later that night, it was announced that he was doing well, but the nation’s hearts stopped when it was announced he was moved to intensive care. His heavily pregnant fiance, Carrie Symonds, held the nation’s sympathies for the personal ordeal that she was undoubtedly going through, whilst much of the country were left worried by the developments in the Prime Minister’s health.
Never placed on a ventilator, Boris Johnson, later said he was consuming “litres and litres” of oxygen, whilst being cared for by NHS staff. He would spend three nights in intensive care, with the country holding their breath and Cabinet assuming collective responsibility for running the country. After spending a week in hospital, he was discharged on 12th April, heading to the prime minister’s residence at Chequers to continue his recovery.
12th April Total UK Coronavirus Deaths Recorded: 12,294
As his recovery continued, the new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faced Dominic Raab at the dispatch box, in a newly revamped House of Commons, with Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) taking place in an almost empty chamber, and most MPs appearing via videolink.
Boris Johnson returned to work on 26th April, taking on most of the responsibility of Prime Minister again, although easing himself into work. He returned to the chamber on the 28th, to face Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time, looking dishevelled and a shell of the man who had first walked into Downing Street as PM in July 2019.
It was announced that Boris Johnson’s fiance Carrie, had given birth to a baby boy. The child was said to be healthy and was named Wilfred, with Boris said to be taking an active role in looking after their boy after they had returned to Number 10.
On 8th May, Britain celebrated VE day, with sunny weather sparking “socially distanced” street parties across the United Kingdom. Whilst some did observe the proper distancing measures, pictures emerged across the country of people taking part in conga lines and failing to observe distancing, often failing to perform what was considered our national duty – to protect lives by staying at home – in response to celebrating the duty of those who came before.
8th May Total UK Coronavirus Deaths Recorded: 31,265
Almost two months into lockdown, on 10th May, Boris Johnson took to the television screens again to announce a roadmap out of lockdown. He previewed the new alert system that would allow for the easing of lockdown restrictions if certain conditions were met. This came after significant pressing from Keir Starmer in the days before, and the “whack a mole” approach first became part of the British lexicon.
“Stay Alert” – The government also unveiled its new slogan to protect the public from Coronavirus. Out was “Stay At Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives”; in was “Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives”. The slogan was defended by the government after criticism from all sides, including from Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon; just weeks later she unveiled an entirely different and completely not vague message for Scotland: “Stay Safe”.
“Woah, we’re going to Barnard Castle!” – Dominic Cummings, the Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, became the news – an event that goes against the code for special advisors, and usually sees them sacked. It was broken by Daily Mirror journalist Pippa Crerar that Cummings had driven to Durham to self isolate on his families’ property, due to needing child care.
A media frenzy followed after Cummings had broken the lockdown rules that he had helped to develop, before he later told the media that he had taken a trip to Barnard Castle to “test [his] eyesight”, to ensure that he could then make the return journey to London – he was not believed.
25th May Total UK Coronavirus Deaths Recorded: 37,297
In was a new controversy, this time the result of Jacob Rees-Mogg – leader of the house – forcing MPs to return to Parliament and vote, in person, as to whether they should end remote working and all return. #Reesmoggconga was trending, as MPs snaked around the palace of Westminister in various degrees of social distancing, with the whole event being nothing short of a farce.
On the 25th May, George Floyd had been killed in Minneapolis in the United States. Protests were sparked across the United States and after two weeks, they emerged in the UK. Protests on 7th June reached a head, with the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, and its subsequent trip to a Bristol canal. The statue was pulled down by protesters due to Colston’s involvement in the slave trade, with the following days seeing further protests and the vandalism of statues such as that of Winston Churchill.
In the days after, “statue defenders” came to protest the graffiti and vandalism of statues. Clashes between protesters, statue defenders and police marked a clear end for social distancing in the eyes of many Britons. Black Lives Matter protests defined much of the lockdown in June, and the issue has become at the forefront of our politics, with people using this time to reflect on the negative and damaging cultural legacies of slavery and decades of prejudice in the United Kingdom.
17th June marked the return of the Premier League, after a three-month hiatus. Fans were forced to stay at home, but crowd noise imposed into the background of televised matches aimed to give the illusion of normality to sport once again. The first game back was not without controversy, with the first-ever failure of goal-line technology seeing a Sheffield United goal not given against Aston Villa – the game finished a boring 0-0, not fitting for the return of Premier League action.
Just two match weeks into the return, Liverpool picked up their first Premier League title, after their closest competitors, Manchester City, were defeated by Chelsea, making Liverpool mathematically the champions. Celebrations were muted for many fans, though some took to the streets and defied orders to stay at home anyway.
Just after the season resumed, Manchester United player Marcus Rashford, made headlines off the pitch for his campaign to see children received free school meals throughout summer. Rashford forced a government U-turn and Boris Johnson announced that the government would extend the scheme for students throughout the summer holidays.
17th June Total UK Coronavirus Deaths Recorded: 42,258
Boris Johnson spoke to Parliament to announce that after more than three months of lockdown, many pubs, bars and restaurants would be able to open once again on 4th July, as long as they complied with COVID-secure guidelines. This prompted Chancellor Rishi Sunak to post a picture celebrating the news by giving the thumbs up to a toaster shop. He did accompany the tweet saying he doesn’t drink, but the gaffe still sparked a meme race to the bottom amongst political Twitter circles.
Johnson also announced the end to Coronavirus daily briefings, briefings which saw Priti Patel forget how numbers worked, that saw Matt Hancock sign off like a gameshow host, and revealed the extent of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ love for the A66.
On day 99 of lockdown, Leicester became the first mole to be whacked for their rising Covid-19 cases. The local lockdown means that they will not be able to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on 4th July, meaning that for them, the lockdown continues.
Although lockdown has not yet been completely lifted, and likely won’t for some more months yet, as we tick past the 100-day mark – and towards 45,000 recorded deaths in the UK – it is interesting to look back at just how unprecedented 2020 has been.
Whilst there have been some entertaining, ridiculous and contentious events that have occurred in the last few months, it is important not to forget about all those lives that have been lost in this pandemic. I have included the number of Coronavirus related deaths at different points throughout this article to remind us that whilst there have been lighter moments we have all seen throughout the media, we cannot forget the personal tragedy that tens of thousands of people have gone through during this crisis.
Each death is a personal tragedy, not just a statistic and it is important to reflect on this fact.
30th June Total UK Cornavirus Deaths Recorded: 43,730
*The numbers of recorded deaths refer to UK Government data, covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Only deaths where there has been a positive COVID-19 test are recorded in this data. The total number of deaths from the virus is estimated to be much higher, due to some people not being tested for the virus. The Office for National Statistics records data differently, looking at all deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. Up to 19 June 2020, there were 49,371 deaths registered in England and Wales involving the coronavirus (COVID-19)