Covid-19 Pandemic 2020

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It was the intention for the History website to become 'Read only' in July 2020 when I retired and coinciding with the end of its hosting contract. However, the realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic would have as much impact on the community as, say, our records of the two world wars show, caused us to realise that we should record it as it happened. Thanks to Granary Publications who offered a very substantial reduction on hosting costs and the Parish Council who agreed to grant this cost the website will now remain open and be updated regularly for at least a further year.

If you have any new Covid-related information and pictures please send them to Mary Robinson, and any personal stories to myself, Rob Forsyth

Rob Forsyth (Editor: History)

The Covid-19 virus in Deddington, 2020

It was early in February 2020 that we became aware of a nasty ‘flu-type virus tearing through Wuhan in China. But even into March it was as if there were two parallel universes, one out there and one here where life continued as normal. But then Covid-19, a vicious potentially fatal virus that attacks respiratory systems, arrived here and within a month life changed fundamentally.

The government mantra was STAY HOME, PROTECT THE NHS, SAVE LIVES: from 24 March we should stay at home to save overburdening the NHS, and so save lives. At the time of starting this archive (end of April 2020) there were already 20,000 deaths in the UK, mostly in hospitals and care homes, and 45,000 at the end of July. The instruction was to wash hands regularly, and the phrase ‘2m social distancing’ entered our vocabulary. The country went into lockdown and online – and Deddington with it.

An Emergency Covid-19 team swung rapidly into action, spearheaded by Bea Maloney with David Rogers, Parish Council Chairman, and Revd Annie Goldthorp, the vicar (see the Newsletters for more details). These volunteers were from the younger generation who stepped up – we were in good hands, and the parish was immensely grateful. The scheme was widely acclaimed and copied by other villages.

The over-70s were asked to self-isolate until the end of June. There were, of course, residents who had no access to computer, tablet or smartphone, and extra measures were put in place to make sure they were not alone.

In the middle of May the government announced the first steps in releasing the lockdown and the mantra become STAY ALERT, STOP THE VIRUS, SAVE LIVES – which many people found confusing. We were entreated to ’use common sense’ – and that meant different things to different people. Many people thought Covid was all over, as evidenced by the crowds who flocked to beaches in the glorious May and June weather. The situation was further muddied by conflicting government advice and its interpretation, and ambitious claims of successful track and trace systems that the government had to backtrack on.

Billions had spent by the government on providing financial support for businesses in lockdown. So the country had to be encouraged back to work, but only if they could do so safely. Key to this was opening schools, but staff and parents were nervous. Although there was a much lower incidence of illness in children, they could be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

At the end of May further lifting of restrictions allowed non-essential shops to open. In early July, non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants could open – always with social distancing in place. People could set up support 'bubbles', where those inside counted as one household and did not have to socially distance from one another. All this made the government’s scientific advisers nervous: they felt the lockdown was being eased too quickly, with no vaccine or track and trace system in place. Government advice continued to be confused and confusing. At the end of July there were warnings that the number of cases was beginning to rise again, albeit from a low base. Was this the expected spike following release of lockdown, or something more serious as the government now started to speak of a 'second wave' rather than a spike.

Mary Robinson (Editor: Community)

How Deddington managed in the time of Covid-19: