The impact of COVID-19 is still unfolding.

But for sure, we will never take our health, our lives and our economies for granted ever again.

While many people are working at the frontline, in hugely difficult circumstances, most of us have been asked just to ‘stay at home’. And stay safe.

Every one of us is coping with, and adjusting to, a strange new ‘life at home’ 

It is a life where we cannot see all our loved ones face to face and where this situation leads to many people facing financial uncertainty, grief, domestic abuse and ill-health. Because of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions we also now live with our immediate families/house mates in very close quarters,  day in, day out. Or in self-isolation.

We do this to protect ourselves and others.

We follow the news and we come to recognise the dangers of a virus that lurks outside.

But inside our homes we are safe. Our home is now a sanctuary? A prison? Or something in between.

Our home is the one place where we have control.

We can keep people out and we can protect everyone inside. At home we impose special measures, maximising hand-washing and cleansing. COVID-19 has turned us all into germaphobes.

They tell us: ‘we are all in this together’. 

The reality is: we live in very different places and spaces, and in circumstances that are not at all the same. Confined to the parameters of our homespace there is a very obvious difference: some homes have access to outside ( garden, balcony) and some do not.

In the UK, during the sunniest spring ever recorded, access to ‘the outside’ was restricted to necessary travel only, and one daily bout of outdoor exercise. Because of this we never appreciated our gardens and our parks so much as we do now. Being able to go outside is what makes living inside bearable.

Globally, the pandemic is affecting everyone, everywhere, right across the world.

COVID-19 distance sign for cars

Lockdown aims to reduce the effects of COVID-19 through shifting, confining, isolating and restricting people from each other.

It’s a humbling thought: globally, people are in either in lockdown, self-distancing and/or self-isolating – or coming out the other end. We can clearly see that every country is approaching the containment of COVID-19 very differently. And it is not over yet.

In the midst of all this we have a new-found respect and admiration for key workers from all walks of life: supermarket staff, nurses, drivers, teachers. It is a deeper level of recognition for ordinary people  – who are not the very rich, and not the very famous.

For those who low-paid, or on benefits, and having to juggle child-care and home-schooling, lockdown is that much more difficult.

We adjust to daily life with new spatial codes, protocols and interactions based on social distancing.

It’s them –  and us. And everything they touch, everywhere they go, and everyone with whom they have contact. 

We are led by our Governments, who are led  by Science. So, we do what we are told and we adjust to the home-working, home-schooling and all the rest. Depending on where we live, and who we live with, this is not always easy. But we have no choice.

COVID-19 sign. Painted Arrow pointed at man

Things will get better.  Things will change. 

Throughout lockdown, with nowhere to go and no-one to meet and our normal activities curtailed, we entertain ourselves at home with Netflix, I-Player and Zoom quizzes.  On the plus side: there is no Fear Of Missing Out. Some people are finding they are content   to be no longer rushing about – here, there and everywhere. They are finding a new-found inner-peace and an appreciation for everything we normally take for granted – less means more.

But because we don’t go anywhere, we find we have nothing to talk about. We have no news – apart from what is in “The News”. And we find ourselves using words we never used before: cocooning, contact tracing, travel corridors, coronavirus bubbles, lockdown, PPE and second waves.

2m painted COVID sign

The new normal under COVID-19 is a negotiation of space as one-way systems and maintaining a social-distance of 2 metres apart. We stand on yellow stickers, join long queues, stand back from counters and talk to people with a sheet of perspex between us. While wearing a mask. And it doesn’t seem strange.

‘Anyone  At Home’  features stories that are a snapshot in time. They reflect how people feel, what they value, their fears, aspirations and mood.   We know these things do not stay the same.

The stories from 2020 of COVID-19 are a glimpse of everyday lives and experiences in these strange and worrying times. These are the things that matter to us – the silent majority – even if who we are, and what we do, is not ‘newsworthy’.

The experiences of coping with day to day living at this time impacts on all of us. As people adjust physically, psychologically and emotionally to this new way of being we can see more clearly how that is framed by local culture, space and politics. We also see how easily COVID-19 disrupts, shakes up and shatters our life-plans.

What we are all going through right now will stay with us for a very long time.

It is only with the benefit of hindsight that the longterm effects of this experience will become known.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights across the social/spatial sphere.

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