Covid-19 coronavirus: New UK lockdown ‘frustrating, utterly disappointing’ say Kiwis

Kiwis living in the United Kingdom say the Government’s announcement of a new lockdown is frustrating and utterly disappointing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new national lockdown for England with people being instructed to stay at home just as they did in March.

In his TV address on Tuesday morning NZ time, Johnson said a new coronavirus variant had caused the number of Covid-19 cases to rise rapidly in every part of the country.

Leeanne Coles, 31, a beauty therapist from Auckland, has been in the UK for the last 18 months and contracted Covid-19 when she went out for lunch with five friends on December 4.

“All six of us caught the virus because we thought it was still relatively safe to be going out based on what the Government was saying at the time,” Coles said.

“The UK’s handling of the pandemic has been utterly disappointing, its communications on the gravity (of coronavirus) hasn’t been very clear and this latest lockdown is just so frustrating.”

The new lockdown in England, its third, will last until at least the middle of February.

Coles, who holds a working holiday visa, moved to London in March – just as the city entered its first lockdown – after travelling around several parts of the UK.

“Boris Johnson said at the time things would get better after Easter, but things have just gone downhill since,” she said.

Coles said she is struggling to find employment as the beauty industry has been hard hit, and the pandemic outbreak also meant it is difficult to socialise or make friends.

She said being in lockdown and isolation has been very hard, and wonders how she would cope with at least another six weeks.

“I came to London thinking it’d be amazing but I’ve basically been stuck in this apartment I share with two other Kiwis and an Aussie, and have only got out of isolation on New Year’s Eve,” Coles said.

“I haven’t had a real chance to make friends and it’s been lonely, it’s quite frightening actually to think about what the future holds. I try to stay positive, but it’s hard.”

Coles said she had been hopeful that things would get better, but is now losing hope after the latest announcement. She would consider moving to Canada or Dubai when the borders open.

Although she has recovered from Covid-19, Coles says she is still not back to full health.

“I’m not done travelling yet, so going back to New Zealand is not yet an option,” Coles added.

In Scotland, people have also been ordered to stay home in a lockdown that will see schools remain closed until February.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed 15 per cent of tests were returning positive results there, which she said “illustrates the severity and urgency of the situation”.

Darren Lim, 43, former head chef at Oyster & Chop, moved to Edinburgh for better career opportunities and quality of life says the announcement came as a shock.

He moved there with his wife Mei, after she got a five-year work visa, along with their two sons Ben, 11, and Adam, 8.

“The news of the lockdown was unexpected and came as a shock to all of us,” Lim said.

“Edinburgh is a university town, and with students and tourists gone, this next lockdown could well be the final nail in the coffin for the economy.”

Lim said he had been looking forward to their move to Scotland because of its more exciting culinary scene and proximity to other major cities in Europe.

Instead, he is in a position where his hospitality consultancy business is in limbo and the only travel he is getting is to the supermarket.

But with two vaccines now being administered in Scotland, Lim said he could see “light at the end of the tunnel”.

“Things can’t continue like that, and there will be a need to be some compromise of either some people’s health or the nation’s health, but I’m confident and hopeful of a sensible solution,” Lim said.

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