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Is coronavirus making us spies and snitches?

PUBLISHED: 13:15 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:16 26 March 2020

Steven Downes says coronavirus spies and denouncers could make Norfolk like George Orwell's 1984     Photo: Archive

Steven Downes says coronavirus spies and denouncers could make Norfolk like George Orwell's 1984 Photo: Archive

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Is it just me, or am I being watched?

Steven Downes says coronavirus spies and denouncers could make Norfolk like George Orwell's 1984     Photo: Penguin Classics/AmazonSteven Downes says coronavirus spies and denouncers could make Norfolk like George Orwell's 1984 Photo: Penguin Classics/Amazon

It isn’t just me, it’s all of us, I’m afraid. For, while coronavirus is bringing out the best in so many people, others have taken up spying and snitching.

It’s not quite 1984, or Communist Albania, but there’s definitely an appetite for denouncing.

Perhaps it is the effect of food shortages and isolation that is bringing out the worst in people, but it really doesn’t excuse the hunger to watch others and grass them up for perceived breaches of the coronavirus rules.

I’ve heard people outraged at those who are driving cars and riding motorbikes - because they “might crash, and put more pressure on the emergency services”.

Others are leaning out of their window to hurl abuse at people delivering parcels to other homes: “Do you know what a ****** key worker is, you muppet?”

Still others are reporting shops and factories that are continuing to operate.

A wise man once said: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

We are not the police. We are not the Government. It is not for us to deliver kangaroo court verdicts on the activities of others.

Apart from it not being our place, the chances are we’ll be getting it very wrong.

For the delivery driver you are shouting at might be bringing insulin to a diabetic, or books to a lonely person who loves to read. They may be delivering meals to a family member in isolation, or just a card to cheer up someone who has nobody to care for them.

The woman walking along the street is probably doing her daily exercise, and stopping herself from losing her mind as the four walls close in.

Others could be heading to the shop for the first time in a week, as their cupboards and fridge are bare.

As for the motorcylists and drivers, are you for real?

If someone is out for a ride or a drive to relieve the boredom, good for them: they won’t spread coronavirus from inside a car or on a bike. They may actually be key workers on the way the front line, or on a mercy mission.

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It is not a few cars and bikes on the road that is going to overload the NHS, it’s the blatantly idiotic behaviour by a minority who refuse to listen to advice.

We are all living through a situation that is unprecedented. Yes, that means it has never happened before.

Even with Government rules and guidance, it isn’t always easy to know what we can and cannot do. So we are feeling our way, trying to survive, to pay our bills, to look after our loved ones, to keep from falling into the mental health abyss.

Because I live alone, I’m facing three weeks without face-to-face human contact. I couldn’t visit my granddaughter on her birthday, nor welcome my son back from a few months of travelling on the other side of the world.

I won’t be able to see my new grandchild, who is arriving imminently, nor spend any time with my parents, who are considered vulnerable.

I don’t know when I’ll next be able to see and hug my partner. In fact, God knows when I’ll next hug anyone (yes, I’m an affectionate chap).

So if I go for a walk around the block or a drive in the countryside, don’t judge me - and don’t you dare shout at me (unless you want me to aggressively ignore the rules on social distancing).

Mind your own business and make sure that you do your best to observe the restrictions. I’ll do the same.

The same goes for everyone.


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