Isolation diary: Going out again?

It’s Happy Monday. Lockdown is, apparently, over – at least that seems to be the way many people have interpreted a gentle easing in the restrictions.

There is even some good news for those of us practising shielding. We are now allowed to go outside the home once a day, either with a housemate or for a socially distanced walk with someone else if we live alone. We can’t go to the shops, or go to work or visit others in their homes. I was quite excited when this was first flagged up on Saturday, but am now having second thoughts.

Up until now we have followed the government’s guidelines for self-isolation scrupulously for 11 weeks. We were expecting to stay at home until the end of June, and were not too dismayed at the prospect. As I’ve said before, our house and garden feel very safe, and we are content with that. We have great online conversations with the various members of our family, and although we miss being close to them we can live with that.

But this week trust in the government’s plans has plummeted, post Durham-gate. It’s not just that I don’t trust the advice we are being given, it’s also the fact that many other people are ignoring even the most basic social distancing rules.

We have also heard that up to half of all Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic. That means that some of those people who are getting too close on beaches, in shops and in parks are spreading the virus unwittingly.

So the risk is still quite high. My husband will not consider going outside at all until the country is genuinely at Level 3. I am not clinically vulnerable myself, so I may go out for a short walk to see what it is like. When I leave my front door I can go left or right; to the left is a 5 minute walk to our local shopping parade, turning right takes me, in just a few minutes, to the Greater London boundary and the start of the Green Belt. So right it will be. If I am brave enough.

Later: Well I did it. I went for a short walk into Surrey, and the evidence is in the photo – though I admit it could be anywhere.

It was quite scary. I haven’t been out of the house for 11 weeks, apart from one trip to the hospital. I didn’t meet anyone on the way so didn’t have to do that pavement dance in order to practice social distancing. It is going to be difficult to throw off the conviction that everything beyond my home is dangerous. But it was a start.



Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Surrey. I remember my walk to the Silent Pool.

  • Andrew Toye 1st Jun '20 - 10:05pm

    I wonder whether the decision was related to Jacob Rees-Moggs’ plan to force MPs to vote in person. At the stroke of a ministerial pen, he can say to MPs who were shielding that there is no longer any need. Hey Presto!

  • @Andrew Toye – it’s a nice theory but those who are shielding have been told they can go out, but NOT go to work.

  • It seems to be a combination of proximity and duration of that proximity that puts people at risk, so passing in the street where no-one is sneezing appears relatively safe. The seafront here was packed out on the weekend, most young people are not social distancing, older people are and inevitably polite when you make space for them. Not enough shops open to take the number who want to shop so some are packed out – the local challenger supermarket seems to have lost most of its staff, allows people in without queuing and ends up with a very long queue for the working auto-service tills (down from six to one last time I was there) that was not spaced out at two metres – I took one look at the queue and left immediately. On the other hand, the local Morrisons has a separate queue for people using baskets rather than trolleys and usually gets you in after a couple of minutes and then there is no queue for the checkout, so that works well, with social distancing in the open area outside. The Supermarkets generally have not racked up prices (due to lack of shoppers fresh fruit seems to have gone down in price) but most of the discounting of products has disappeared (I relied on that to avoid inflation) but I still have a stock of frozen stuff to work through, so hopefully the discounts will return by the time I need to buy them.

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