There’s no doubt about it: coronavirus has changed everything, from work to travel to societal interactions. Restrictions and safety measures change and update on a daily basis – and sometimes even more often than that – as Governments and local authorities strive to keep populations as protected as possible whilst still functioning as best they can in the circumstances.
Much of what constitutes the best way for individuals to avoid Covid-19 contamination and negate risk is common sense but, in busy cities like London, it can feel difficult to maintain when so many other people are around. Through the colder winter months, when it’s believed coronavirus may be more easily transmitted – and therefore more prevalent than ever, it’s important for everyone to ‘play their part’ and take safety precautions where they can. Below is a list of ways to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of others around you.
Symptoms? Get tested
Anyone in London presenting with one or more of the main symptoms of coronavirus (currently: a high temperature, a continuous cough or a loss or change to the sense of smell or taste) is able to access a free Covid-19 test on the NHS. Until presented with a negative result from the test, the symptomatic person should remain isolated.
However, if a person’s symptoms don’t fit the standard criteria or if a negative test is required before overseas travel can be permitted (of course, for essential purposes only), a private PCR test can be carried out. These tests are available from a variety of private clinics such as Medicspot and usually give a result within 48-72hrs.
Follow the appropriate guidance for wherever you are, and wherever you’re going
People should only leave their house for essential, legally permitted reasons. At present, such reasons include travel for work (where it can’t be reasonably completed at home), daily exercise or to shop for essentials. However, where travel is required to another area – be that another area of the UK or internationally – the rules of that area must be followed immediately upon arrival. The UK coronavirus guidance is updated regularly on the gov.uk website and other such online guides are maintained by different governments and authorities. Similarly, some London businesses have their own rules that may be above the standard accepted guidelines, in order to keep their staff and service users safe. Such rules should be respected and followed as closely as possible.
Stay home where possible
London is one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world and as a result, residents of the City and its suburbs benefit from a variety of facilities and amenities that those living in more remote areas don’t. Where possible, everyone should stay at home. Food and other shopping can be delivered, or, where delivery slots are unavailable, can still be accessed through click-and-collect services. Most supermarkets now offer both and other, smaller retailers are moving toward such facilities too to allow them to continue to trade.
Travel out in the open
The London transport network is famed worldwide and has adapted well to the pandemic to allow for safe travel. Everyone travelling on public transport or in a public hire vehicle such as a taxi must wear a face mask or relevant PPE end-to-end throughout their journey; including in any stations or waiting areas. However, London has some fantastic outdoor transport options too that can help residents get around safely, healthily and may even constitute part of their daily exercise. If possible, travel should be completed outdoors rather than in a vehicle, a confined space or around other people.
There are 11,500 Santander Cycle hire bikes across the capital spanning around 750 docking stations. Bikes are being cleaned, sanitised and disinfected more than usual, and NHS workers are entitled to free around-the-clock access. Cycling can be done socially distanced with one other person or alone and the constant airflow makes it a relatively low-risk form of spending time outdoors.
TfL also promotes Walks For London, a variety of outdoor walking routes across different areas of the City. Providing that passing anyone is done at distance to avoid unnecessary air particle contamination, walking is a fantastic way not just to travel around but also to get in some exercise and fresh air.
It can be a daunting time to live and/or work in such a big city, but Londoners and their local authorities are working hard to keep everyone as safe as possible. For now, London is very much still open for essential business, and with a plethora of beautiful outdoor spaces and hidden gems, staying and exploring London in a different way can be a truly enriching experience. Sanitise, stay safe and stay satisfied with all the curiosities the capital has to offer!