Friday night is usually cloudy and lively in the Welsh capital; its people are famous for being wildly proud and incredibly hospitable.
Cardiff is therefore a great place to welcome the weekend.
At least that was until Friday, October 23, when Wales rolled the clock back to March 2020 to start another national lockdown.
In line with the transferred powers, Wales does not have to fall in line with the directives of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It can plan its own course – as Scotland and Northern Ireland do too.
The Johnson government in London has resisted the introduction of yet another UK-wide measure, opting instead for a regional lockdown in England, such as those seen in hotspots in Manchester and Liverpool.
Wales has been hit hard by another wave of Covid-1
A recent study by the Welsh Government has even suggested that the virus may have spread from areas in the north-west of England to areas in the north of Wales. These counties now record some of the largest peaks in numbers across Wales
Local restrictions could not stem the rise in infections. In total, Wales has reported 41,577 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University from 42,681.
A short, sharp “fire”
On October 23, Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford introduced what he called a “fire lock” – a strict two-week period in which almost everyone is required to stay at home.
“It’s time for someone to take the bull by the horns and continue with it and lock us down for 16 days,” Chris Francis told CNN as the minutes ticked by before the new restrictions came in.
Under the new rules in Wales, pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and all non-essential shops have been forced to close. However, pickup and delivery is still possible. People have been asked to stay home and leave only for essential food, medicine or exercise among other limited exceptions.
Drakeford told CNN that sets of national restrictions were based on scientific advice, and that a “short but deep period of restrictions that will disrupt the virus and break the transmission chains is the best hope we have to get things back on track and have a way from here for Christmas. “
Reading, PlayStation and movies with the boys
Queen Street in central Cardiff is a typical high street set up and down the British Isles. There is a Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, a local pub and a discount store called Poundland.
But this Friday night is one of the biggest queues outside of McDonald’s.
Will Thomas, 20, and Sam Younis, 21, both students at Cardiff University, showed up for their last McFlurry desserts over the next two weeks.
The couple’s views on lockdown are surprising given their UK cohorts’ poor reputation in the UK for complying with Covid-19 restrictions.
“I think it’s definitely necessary. I think we should definitely stay inside for two weeks. We have to stay low and just wait for it,” Thomas said.
Younis was just as optimistic about the coming weeks. “I just want to catch up on work that came from us, read a little more, play a little PlayStation,” he said. “It’s going to be fun, get movies with the boys, isn’t there much else to do?”
But for some, like Amy, an official who refused to disclose her full name, and a self-confessed “indoor type,” being at home won’t change her life much. She watches Netflix and plays video games as usual.
Amy has been working from home since the first shutdown in March, but her biggest concern is for the economy. “My fear is the concern about how it will affect small businesses and the economy,” she told CNN.
“I’m especially scared of the people who lose their jobs. It’s going to affect all the small businesses; I can see small shops closing and not getting customers.”
Will locking work?
Jonathan Pangelli, head of 39 Desserts, a store that specializes in pancakes, waffles and ice cream, fears his business may not survive. The store survived the first shutdown, but Pangelli believes the second could be fatal.
“We’re a new company and we’ve built our reputation and then we have to tell our customers ‘no, go away and see you in three months.’ “We are lucky that we had loyal customers who came back,” he said.
Pangelli struck a pessimistic tone. He said: “This did not work the first time, why does it work the second time? The company has got all the things in place: disinfectant, social distance, we wash our hands every 10 minutes, why can not we serve customers safely? And the companies, there is not [taking those precautions], close them! “
As 6 p.m. approached Friday, Susan, a health assistant who also refused to give her full name, passionately told CNN why people needed to stay home. “We are a race of people and we have to take care of each other,” she said.
“We saw the devastation for the first time and we do not want to go that route again. It is only until November.”
Standing under the statue of the founder of the British National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan, Susan added sharply: “There is not much to sacrifice when people sacrifice their lives in healthcare and take care of the older generation. You do not want to lose your life – be sensible. ”
So like the groundhog, Wales looked its head out of hibernation, hoping the coronavirus’ umbra would be gone, but what it saw was the coronavirus shadow still haunting it.
The only option, therefore, was to return to the cave.