As England celebrates semi-final victory over Denmark at the Euro 2020 football it seems the country is becoming increasingly more divided about football ‘coming home’!
On the one hand, you have social sporting events like Euro 2020, Wimbledon, Rugby and even horseracing being played and televised, while restrictions for spectators are being relaxed…. and I use the term relaxed very loosely because 50,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium last night with next to no face covering, no social distancing and disregard for the pademic, while outside it is estimated at 10 millions pints were pulled in pubs across the country.
On the other side, you have school sports days where many parents aren’t even allowed to attend, or if they can cheer on their child they remain respectful to the present climate, socially distancing, the mandatory wearing of masks and adhereing to limits to the number of people who can come.
I was clearly not alone in watching the England performance, infact ITV says England’s triumph hit a high of 27.6M viewers across ITV, streamer ITV Hub, and Scottish affiliate broadcaster STV. The broadcaster claims it’s the biggest peak audience ever for a football match in the UK.
So I will be the first to congratulate the stela efforts of the England team and Gareth Southgate for successfully reaching the final of the Euro 2020; in fact, every nation should be congratulated for allowing players, coaching staff and managers to make this spectacle a reality after such a lengthy postponement.
It is not their responsibility to define the rules, all they, like many people across the country, want to do is return to normality, to use their skills and for those sports personalities translate these passions into entertainment for the millions of global fans who see this a point to where to can return to the activities that they previously enjoyed.
Like a penalty shoot-out, it doesn’t seem fair to win a game based on kicking prowess from a single point, one-on-one with the goalie but that is the game!
Much the way schools have remained in their isolated bubbles, with restrictions continuing around the school grounds only to see on television, in pubs and all around the country that people are openly meeting, drinking and taking little responsibility for the wellness for those who STILL isolate in fear of transmitting the virus.
So who is responsible and why open up some events, seeming prematurely breaking rules to fit a different agenda? Well in my opinion it is clear that following an extremely trying 18 months these calendar events give the perfect opportunity, under the very lucrative banner of football, to stretch the rules for this purpose to test the water. Test the water for Covid and Covid-variant spreading but also monitor how the public will react before ‘Freedom Day’ on the 19th of July.
Firstly this terminology being used is hugely disrespectful to those who have and continue to struggle with the pandemic in so many ways. Not just those bereaved who are still attempting to grieve their lost love but also the millions who are openly finding life difficult adjusting to the possibilities of a life ‘post-covid’, or in the least ‘Living with Covid’.
The Forest of Memories speaks to hundreds of people who are struggling with covid, not only the loss but also the more silent and easier to ignore or forget like long-Covid, financial worries, unemployment, housing concerns or those who feel emotionally and physically trapped by the ambiguity of the situation.
None of us makes the rules, many reading this adhere to the guidelines that are dictated and most will use their personal best judgement about situations. Those will continue to wear masks when they aren’t mandated, giving space while out in public and sanitise, as has become the norm.
However, we already know that there is also many out there who have become sick of isolation, mentally at the end of their tether and disillusioned by government actions and consistent breaking of their own rules for their own betterment.
So what can you do, what will make the biggest impact and how can you keep yourself and those you love safe after the 19th of July?
Keep control, it the one variable that you have complete power over! Don’t be distracted by what is happening around you and what you are being told, if you feel unsafe or have been told you might be vulnerable you wear that PPE, you sanitise and keep that distance; if you are being made to go back into work, make sure you speak to you employer and ensure you raise any legitimate concerns you feel, they are completely valid and you should be able to discuss them.
STAY SAFE, KEEP CONTROL