Last week Boris Johnson unveiled his roadmap for lifting lockdown, with the aim for all restrictions to be lifted by the 21st June. However will the end of lockdown truly make things “normal” again?

Some things have been permanently changed by lockdown, for better or for worse. For example the creation of the vaccines had massively advanced medical technology, one of the most positive and important outcomes of the virus. On the other hand, according to relationship support charity Relate, 23% of couples struggled with their relationships, with 8% of people realising they wanted to end their relationship. 

I spoke to locals to get their thoughts and opinions, here’s what they had to say:

Will you still wear a mask after being vaccinated?

“The pandemic has made me aware of how easily viruses can spread. I used to look at tourists wearing masks and wonder why, but know I understand their importance. I definitely think I will wear one while traveling 

“I will still wear a mask after getting the vaccine because the vaccine isn’t entirely effective and I would still want to protect myself and others. Also not everyone will necessarily have been vaccinated by the time I am so it’s just a general safety precaution.”

Do you think the virus has changed your hygiene habits?

“Well I was carrying hand sanitizer around before, but I’ve started bringing wipes with me as well and even disposable gloves. Make-up testers seem really unhygienic to me, most things that are touched by loads of people just seem unhygienic.”

“I’m constantly sanitising my hands, which I wasn’t doing before. If I leave my house the first thing when I return is sanitise my hands or if I touch anything while I’m out i instantly sanitise. I also tend to have 2-3 hand sanitisers in my bag. Also the idea of blowing out candles on a birthday cake now seems so unsanitary to me.

What aspect of lockdown impacted you most?

“My exams were cancelled and I didn’t really leave the house much which probably wasn’t very healthy. Even when it was possible to start meeting up or exercising I wasn’t really able to because I live quite far from my friends. In terms of online school, my WiFi is terrible and I’ve had a lot of technical problems. This has probably been the main cause of my stress, for example I’ve lost pieces of work that took me ages to complete, which meant I had to redo them while also doing all the new work being set while it was really overwhelming.”

“In the first lockdown I felt really isolated because it was so unlike anything I’d ever experienced before and the fact that we’re in a global pandemic was overwhelming. Being able to go to school in the second lockdown really helped me to cope, but I think the stress from online school in this current lockdown has actually been detrimental to my mental health. As my exams were cancelled last year I didn’t really experience much online school so this lockdown was actually my first time dealing with that and it was quite difficult to adapt, it's much harder to focus and it can be quite intense, We just go from lesson straight into lesson, whereas normally we have a little break just walking from one classroom to another.

How has lockdown affected your mental health?

“With online school I’ve felt less motivated and I’ve been feeling burnout faster. I’ve also really struggled to concentrate in my lessons, which have felt less engaging. As well as this the reduced social interaction has definitely made school less enjoyable.”

“In the pandemic I learnt to make mental health a priority. I think it wasn’t something I thought about much before, but this last lockdown has definitely brought it to my attention but I’ve think I’ve learnt about how to maintain my wellbeing and what helps me manage my mental health. I think I now know how to prioritise my mental health and have learnt the importance of taking a break instead of just constantly working. It felt like my mental health was just deteriorating for a while but I’ve found some strategies to help me cope which has been quite helpful”

Have your relationships changed because of the virus?

“I’ve spent a lot more time with my family and I definitely feel like I’m closer to them, which is actually quite surprising as I thought being stuck with them would actually drive us apart. My friendships have stayed strong as well, I think being able to see my friends virtually over online school helped here and also social media.”

“I think having to be cooped up with my family has definitely made me become closer to them and I think I really appreciated that time with them. I now see them in my break times and lunchtimes which wasn’t possible before but has been really nice. I think it's also changed my friendships, I think the isolation we all felt has made us value our friendships more and made us realise that we take those social interactions for granted because we had to make an effort to interact because we wouldn’t just see each other in school. 

Do you think things will ever be normal again? If so when? 

“It depends on how you define normal. I think that the restrictions will be lifted and we will be able to do things like go to concerts and travel, but I think our attitudes toward hygiene and health. I think we’ll have a new conception of normal after a couple of years. If things were ever going to return to what they previously were it would probably take a very long time.

“I think it’s a little relative, if you mean as in the end of lockdown hopefully things will ease up this summer. I think in that sense it will be normal, but we will still have to wear masks and take precautions, but with those precautions we will be able to do normal activities like meeting up in big groups again. But I don’t know if we’ll ever achieve normality, maybe with herd immunity we won’t need masks. I think we’ve become a lot more hygienic and people are more careful now. I don’t think we will ever return to the pre-pandemic image of normal. I think it will take years without the vaccine in England and people would have to forget about the lockdowns.