Fergus Smith writes about the social impact of Covid-19 and the increased social unity and strengthening of community ties in the face of the pandemic.
Only a short period ago the term ‘Covid-19’ or ‘coronavirus’ to most was simply regarded as an insignificant illness hidden deep within the heart of China. However, within a matter of weeks, the term ‘Covid-19’ now dominates our news feed and dictates almost all topics of conversation. Nevertheless, amid this pandemic, I believe the sudden hysteria mounting on top of our lives has encouraged an immense sense of social unity. From when before the virus, when the nation was undergoing the gruelling ordeal of Brexit, the term ‘unit’ seemed scarce. When it was evident to many that our nation was divided in a political uproar.
As of the 16th of April Dominic Raab has made it clear for ‘at least’ 3 more weeks, the government has no intention in relaxing lockdown rules unless five of its red lines were met. So why has this continued social distancing rule which keeps us 2 meters apart seemed to have made us all 100 meters closer? Whether it's clapping for the NHS every Thursday at 8 o’clock, or participating in a charitable social trend. The unity being displayed by our nation is not comparable to what it was just under 6 months ago.
A multitude of factors has contributed to this sudden social cohesion. Factors such as economic status and political opinion suddenly becoming impertinent for the first and likely only time in our lives. As a consequence of this, for those in our country who are abiding the rules, equality has felt more apparent than ever, regardless of the oppressed nature of the situation. This feeling of equality and exceptional relation to a situation has been the key driving factor to why as a society we are more of a single identity rather than just a difference of opinion.
Having said this, it could be argued that equality is far from present. With celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay controversially moving to his ‘£4 million second home’ for isolation, despite many accusing him of ‘flouting government rules’. Whilst on the hand rates of domestic abuse dramatically surge and with many being isolated in single room flats. So, despite the rare relation to a situation within our society, equality of living standards is by no means accurate. Therefore, it again begs the question as to why socially we appear to be more ‘together’ than we have been in recent times.
Economic collapse is a prevalent threat associated with the virus. With one-quarter of companies in the UK having to involuntary close and the IMF forecasting, ‘the UK face the deepest recession since the 1920s’. The feeling of economic uncertainty is encompassing all aspects and sectors of the economy. The threat to investors is evident by significant fiscal expansionary policy seeing the base rate drop to a record low of ‘0.1%’. In addition to this, Chancellor Sunaks discussed the possibility of a ‘25 percent to 30 percent fall’ in economic growth within the second quarter of this year. The unavoidable decline of the economy will inevitably impact numerous households all of different economic status. Which again reiterates back to my first point of relation to a situation. The threat to economic welfare, also threatening the quality of life, is apparent to everyone within this situation. Households all of the different income groups will be affected, therefore again causing an underlying sense of equality to the situation. Which is the fundamental stimulus to bringing social unity within our Nation.
The impact of Covid-19 bringing social unity is evident within the latest survey published by ‘YouGov’. The survey highlighted that only 9% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the coronavirus outbreak is over, in addition to this the survey also emphasised that 40% of the UK feels the sense of community is much stronger within their area. Overall providing evidence to the fact despite the adversity Covid-19 has bought to the current climate, it has also acted as a catalyst to bringing a feeling of social unity and strengthening the communities with which we live in.