Although the coronavirus crisis had been ongoing for many weeks, the last five days have brought the reality of the situation directly to all Britons.
45 days after the first reported cases in the country, the Prime Minister introduced the first of a series of ‘very draconian’ measures to contain the spread of the virus, following in the footsteps of governments in other parts of Europe.
In unprecedented measures in peacetime, Boris Johnson advised the nation to avoid all unnecessary contact with others; encouraging the public to work from home where they can, to stay away from pubs and clubs, and that infected households should self-isolate for 14 days.
These measures on their own were enough to disrupt livelihoods of people across the country but were soon followed by further steps to prevent the worst pandemic for more than a century.
Schools across the country closed their doors until at least the autumn, along with clubs, restaurants, cafes, leisure centres and gyms across the country. The government also advised against all non-essential travel overseas and train services will also be reduced from next week.
Meanwhile, supermarkets have experienced empty shelves of essential products and events across the country, including Glastonbury, have been cancelled.
Accompanying the strict measures from the government is the biggest spending pledges by a peacetime government to fight the economic crisis ahead. On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £330 billion in loans for businesses – amounting to 15 percent of the country’s GDP.
Over the week, this has been followed with a three-month mortgage holiday, plans to prevent renters from eviction, and today the government announced it will pay 80 percent of the salaries of people unable to work due to the pandemic.
Whilst people can debate whether or not the steps the government are taking go far enough, it is clear these are unprecedented measures to deal with an unprecedented situation. The modern interconnected and globalised world has never faced a crisis on the scale of this outbreak and it is testing society to its limit.
Any sense of normality has been left in ruins over the space of these five days, with no clear sense of when this crisis will pass. But what has been clear is the need for action.
The number of confirmed cases has almost tripled so far this week, with the number of deaths jumping from 35 to 177. It will take time to see how effective the measures Johnson and his government have taken will be.