Social Distancing and a Paused Economy: When Can We Just Go back to Business-as-Usual?

 

If ‘celebrating’ Mothering Sunday in the safety of a Dorset dining room is considered ‘unnecessary and risky socialising’ for the danger of spreading a life-threatening illness (covid-19) even before lockdown measures were implemented, I’d hazard a guess to say the government might consider the act of splitting a bottle of LPR with a bunch of newly acquainted pole dancers in a London strip joint just a tad opulent, and, a bit on the dicey side of risky. 

Why not lick the stairwell banisters of Piccadilly Circus station whilst you’re living on the edge? It’s cheaper after-all, and, what with all the indicators pointing towards a global recession that’s been likened to both the 1970’s energy crisis (for supply), and the 2008 financial crash (for demand) combined, it’d probs be a little silly going out and dropping 3k at a strip club once this nationwide house arrest is lifted.

It’s both the potential for more social distancing measures put into place following this lockdown period, and for the evidence of an upcoming, and significant, economic recession, that makes me wonder, as a London stripper – and an adult human living in 2020 – whether I’ll have a job to return to any time soon, despite some claims that we’ll be back to business as normal by the summer.

This is what I see: 

 

This UK lockdown is just an initial response to the first wave of infection as an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, or ‘flatten the curve’, and not to stop the virus in its tracks thereby removing it from circulation, as, unless every single case of covid-19 is identified, isolated and cured, there’s little, if anything, we can do to stop the nation from getting infected without a lengthy period of total isolation.

Considering it’s contagious during a period where infected people don’t show symptoms, and the fact that we’re a bunch of people who like leaving our houses, have a tendency towards hugging, and (Millenials that we are) yoyo in and out of the country – meaning even if we did cure it in the UK we could still contract covid-19 in another country and bring it home – it seems like our best bet at getting through this ‘global’ pandemic (aren’t all pandemics global?) is for us to achieve ‘herd immunity’.

According to Google (I clearly searched long and hard for this) herd immunity is; “a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection”, (presumably more than 50%), and for the UK this means over 33.3 million people need to develop an immunity to Covid-19 (out of 66.6 million) to reach this figure, which can be done through vaccination, or, contracting and recovering, from the virus (so long as we aren’t able to become reinfected).

So far, as there is no vaccine, as of Monday 6th April 2020 there are only (“only”) 56,000 confirmed cases, which is less than 0.1% of the number of infected people required to reach herd immunity; 33 million 200 thousand infections to go (and shrapnel). 

Though the accuracy of the number of confirmed cases is questionable, we’re still a long way away from herd immunity even if the number of actual cases was 10 x the number of confirmed cases. There’s still a lot more people, most of whom are inside their homes reducing their risk of becoming infected, that need to become immune (via infection or vaccination) for us to reach a state herd immunity for safer outside roaming to fully commence once more.

Kind of a dichotomy; need to go out to catch the virus, but housebound to stop us catching the virus. Tricky business. 

The quickest way to achieve herd immunity is to let the virus run rampant amongst the population, without any outside intervention (quarantining, social distancing, lockdowns, PPE, etc), allowing the majority of people to get it and get over it quickly, which though convenient in terms of ‘getting back to business-as-usual’, comes with tragic consequences for a nation.

The problem with this route to living free-range once more is that it’s also the most lethal to the most amount of people. Though most people only experience mild to moderate symptoms, there’s a portion of people that require serious medical attention. Under the circumstances the NHS couldn’t even admit the number of people to hospital that would need it, let alone treat them should we let the virus do its own bidding. This means a higher percentage of people would die for lack of medical attention, not to mention all the people who could die of other medical problems because the hospitals, under tremense strain from covid-19 inpatients, can’t treat them effectively also; asthma, COPD, heart attack, etc.

I think we all agree, this isn’t a situation we want to find ourselves in no matter how much faster it’d mean that we could return to normal life.

Alternatives ways to achieve herd immunity:

 

The least deadly way, from what I understand, to achieve herd immunity is through vaccination; a substance developed consisting of a strain or ‘deactivated fragment’ (thank my biologist friend for that bit of jargon) of the virus that enables the body to become familiar with the infection so it can defend the body against future exposure, meaning (hopefully) they can’t become sick, or contagious to other people.

Ideally every person in the country would have this vaccine administered to protect them (but for herd immunity only the 33.3 odd million), so that we could safely go back to life as normal with minimal risk of passing on covid-19 to the other 33million unjabbed folks with minimal fatalities. This however takes time.

This preventative measure relies on research and development, and testing, to ensure efficacy, safety of use, longevity, etc, a process which can take, despite acceleration, at least 18 months, which is apparently, according to Bill Gates and Seth Berkley (head of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance) actually lightning fast as it could traditionally take 10 to 15 years. Take HIV for example, it’s been 30 years and there is still no vaccine despite the severity of the virus and the fact it’s impacted the western world (come on, we know we get preferential treatment).

Then there’s also the question of how do you make 33million solutions and then jab 33million people, quickly? The process of vaccinating once the drug is developed is a timely process in itself. Takes me at least 10 minutes to prep myself up to get my gums numbed at the dentist and I conveniently ‘fell sick’ on the day the school was administering BCGs. I can’t be the only pain in the arse for medicine. People are inconvenient, time-wasting, wankers. 

The third way the population can achieve herd immunity is through controlled infection (which is seemingly the strategy the government is taking). Slow the numbers of people who contract the illness so that healthcare workers can better care for a smaller intake of patients at any given time, which reduces, as much as possible, the number of fatalities associated with the level of care any patient can receive. The % of people who die from covid-19 isn’t just based on the disease, but how they’re treated too.

One way to decrease the fatality rate for achieving herd immunity through contracting and recovering from covid-19 would be through developing a drug to cure or treat covid-19 in already infected patients so that despite it being clearly an inconvenience in our lives, makes contracting the virus far less threatening, but this process also takes time, potentially as long as developing a vaccine and definitely not worth cutting corners on.

Drug trials take time to develop to ensure they can be safely used without worse/adverse side effects, like the bloke who turned permanently blue from drinking diluted silver, which was, granted, self-prescribed, but just cause a vaccine might protect us against Covid-19, for instance, doesn’t mean it won’t cause us harm in other ways. Lest we forget the thalidomide crisis of the 60’s. Pregnant women prescribed this drug for morning sickness paid the tragic price by giving birth to babies who suffered serious birth defects.

All of this means that, even after this initial lockdown is lifted, and the UK is let out of their houses once more, life can’t realistically return to ‘business as usual’ and socialising willy nilly like the good old days, aka three weeks ago (mid-march 2020) because if we’ve not reached herd immunity, and there are still cases of covid-19 in circulation, which there’s no real way to know – people on lockdown could still be passing it to one another on their weekly shops and not showing symptoms – then we risk another reinfection spike which takes us right back to where we are now, business very much not as usual and a large number of people out of work. 

Today I read an article from The Guardian called: ‘Lockdowns can’t end until Covid-19 vaccine found, study says’ claiming that “China’s restrictions [lockdowns, etc] have brought the first wave [of infections] to an end but the danger of a second [wave] is very real”. We have the ‘good fortune’ – in this respect – to experience our wave of infection following China’s so we can predict, based on what they’re experiencing, what might happen over here. 

According to this article written by Sarah Boseley, the health editor of the Guardian (hardly a wally); ‘researchers warn, if normal life is allowed to resume too quickly and the lifting of controls is too extensive’, we could expect another surge of infections which, considering the last surge resulted in an overwhelmed NHS and nationwide lockdown, is something we’d rather avoid. So essentially we can expect further social distancing measures to be put in place following this round of lockdown.

This, unfortunately, has wider economic implications.

 

Let’s, if you will, look at the economy

 

It’s not quite as sexy a topic as health in relation to the Coronavirus, but it is, when thinking about consequences on our lives, important to consider.  

Whilst we’re on lockdown, flights are grounded, businesses are closed, the economy has virtually ground to a screeching halt, and unemployment has spiked – the US reported 6million unemployment claims made against the government last week which is double the week befores record of 3 million, which is more than 4 times the prior one-week record of 695,000 in October 1982.

But it’s just temporary, right? 

Though it is fair to say that once this has all blown over we can just kick start the economy again, I wonder whether it will be that simple. Firstly we might be made housebound again, or at best moderate social distancing measures enforced, if reinfection spikes rear their ugly head, meaning that all businesses that rely on people being in close proximity to one another (ie less than 2 meters) will either have to drastically change, or risk going under completely.

Travel and tourism, though two meters away from the passenger next to you feels luxurious (flight, train, bus… rollercoaster?) It’s difficult for businesses to execute the measures required to satisfy these standards, especially theme parks, which, if perchance you were questioning the validity of my example, does fall under the ‘travel and tourism’ category as much as ‘entertainment and recreation’ (they have resorts and stuff).  

The number of people who’ll be allowed to fly could be significantly reduced not even taking enforced travel bans into consideration. If the airline industry suffers, so does the oil industry (which if you’re from Alberta Canada ain’t good), so does the automotive industry (Rolls Royce supply engines to aircrafts), so with just one small change, the number of job losses, even after we’re let out, could still be substantial based on a number of other industries who’ll suffer even if it was only airlines that were impacted.

Sports, Hospitality, Retail, however, are all industries to different extents that rely, at least partly, on consumers (once known as people) being allowed in close proximity to one another. And a lot of businesses don’t just rely on the consumers being near each other, what about businesses that need their workers to be close to one another (ballroom dancers?) that would have to at least physically restructure their floor layouts, or… dance positions.

It seems to me that unless you’re working in an essential role in an essential industry; medicine, logistics, utilities, industries that help the world right now under the current circumstances, etc, you run the risk of potential unemployment in the near future for an unknown period of time, which I know, bit doom and gloom and not precisely what you want to hear right now, especially with everything going on, but it’s something worth taking into consideration if we’d like to make some positive changes to address our levels of security. 

We’re not powerless to circumstance after all. 

An interesting segway: Strippers

 

Which brings me back to my own circumstances as a stripper. Attending a strip club, regardless of the stigma involved, is arguably both irresponsible in regards to national health, and also, personal finances that I suspect not only will, once the lockdowns are lifted, attendance from patrons be low, but that the government might not even allow clubs to reopen for a period pertaining to national safety, which kind of means I’m out of a job (and past-time), for the foreseeable future.

What other businesses could be considered a health risk for people interacting? Bars, restaurants, sports games, offices, leisure centers, cruise liners, even mines?

And I know, tis hardly a crying shame some businesses (strip clubs) might struggle during this time – it’s adult entertainment not Thames water – and who knows, I could be wrong anyway. I’m not a scientist, an economist, and lord knows I’m wrong all the time! But my finances, my security, my ability to take care of loved ones – Mum’s pretty vulnerable right now – are worth more than using hope as a strategy to plow through this. 

No siree bob. I’ve opted for pragmatism… excluding 16th March 2020, however when I spent the day sobbing because I was convinced my whole family was going to die, but since then, I’ve been practical and rational… sort of. 

Even if things do go back to ‘normal’, I’m not sure I want them to. I’ve liked listening to my Gooldroom playlist on Spotify whilst typing away opposite my working-from-home bro in law. It’s modest but beats listening to, against my will, dancefloor classics blared out for 8 hours straight whilst sat in a cove of plush red velvet upholstered thrones – and other eclectic soundtracks, try dancing seductively to Ant and Dec’s football anthem if you will. 

I’m relishing in baking banana breads from scratch, journaling my ‘emotions’ (a timely endeavor I can tell you) constructing a ‘business plan’ (even more timely) stuff I wanted to do, but didn’t, whilst working as an exotic dancer – look at me getting all PC – that I’ve kinda got the taste for a different lifestyle now. One where I’m all domestic and asleep at normal times, whilst also productive and getting important shit done. 

Typically ‘dancing’ (the industry euphemism for ‘stripping’) is far more flexible (easy tiger) than a lot of other traditional jobs, that I can’t get my head round how positive a bit of home time, aside from all the hardship outside, has been on people who were in more ‘restrictive positions’ (lol) before… sorry I couldn’t help myself.

As a dancer I earned good money, I could mostly choose when I worked, where I worked and without giving much notice I could galavant off to Key West, Florida for a couple months, have myself a parasailing excursion, outdoorsy adventures, cheeky lil romance with a motorbike riding sea captain, you know, the stuff a girl needs, which after working three whole shifts a week for two and a half months, felt like just what the doctor ordered. 

Can’t imagine what all you 5 day-a-weekers must feel like.

Still, I believe life don’t end when the workday begins whatever you work as, and though captivated 23 year old me relished the glamour of my job when I was younger, more recently, approaching 30, I felt ready to hang up my stripper shoes even before Coronavirus shook the place up regardless of the fact it’s resulted in a unanimous decision, as passed by my Whatsapp Group: ‘Waste Gash’, to postpone our 30ths for a year… just like my sister’s wedding has been.

Oh, yeh. Wedding venues, they’re going to struggle too. 

 

So what’s the solution?

 

For the past three years I’ve been reskilling myself, and working on, building an online business; affiliate marketing, ecommerce, all the things you already know about, and also, writing my first book, which I now, with all the time I’ve got to stare at walls and ponder infinity, plan to fucking get on with… though the wall staring is seductive I must say. 

Initially motivated by world travel, easy (and potentially unlimited) money, and work flexibility (I know, what was I even thinking?) I found though working from your laptop on a beach hammock was the dream, it’s just not all that compelling. Afterall, my life as a dancer could give me the beach holiday lifestyle, technically, it’s just that I couldn’t earn money whilst I was away, which is fine, you can’t stroke a sea cucumber (…scuba diving) and update your Yoast settings on WordPress, at the same time anyway. 

And besides the ‘working on a laptop from a beach hammock’ sounds nice but when you’re wincing to see the screen, your mac scares you by overheating and turning itself off, and and your neck hurts cause the hammock shapes you into an L, and you look like a pretentious bellend… the novelty wears off. 

Even though I knew building my online business, writing that book, or working with a software engineer to develop that Quit Vaping app (another mad hatch scheme), were ventures that if I saw through, might secure me in the long run, without passion, without something more meaningful, the work required (there’s a bit to do) to see them through felt like ballache. 

Just you try tackle AdWords, okay?… which actually, with the right guidance isn’t that hard I suppose, but regardless, when faced with a challenge, without a good enough reason to continue at it, and considering I had everything I materially wanted and needed, I wasn’t, unfortunately, motivated enough (by money or travel) to do the work required to make these important life aspirations, writing a book, making a success of my online business, a big enough priority… and look where that’s gotten me?

Fucking housebound, in England, no (well, much smaller) income for the foreseeable future, and tapping away at my laptop anyway (actually, my brother in law’s PC since the new pandemic pup has gnawed through my new MacBook charger, which is only new because Ory – short for Oreo – went through the original one last week) to finally make something of these aspirations that have been niggling at me for years, but weren’t prioritised soon enough to get anywhere.

I won’t labor on about ‘couldas and shouldas’ because we all know dragging your feet is only good for giving yourself a worn out sole, which if said allowed would have been so profound, but alas ‘soul’ is spelled differently. But you get my drift anyway. Feet dragging = bad for your soles and your souls, and I should have done all of this sooner, but I didn’t because my priorities weren’t in order, which now, thankfully, they are.

How do you change your priorities?

 

My priorities changed, simply, when my priorities changed. Ie, when I began to worry about the security of my job and where my next paycheque was coming from, and how I would support my Mum if she needed it. When I began to see some of my closest nurse friends, working on the front lines, hugely struggling with the change in their workplaces and the surge of new patients being admitted to hospital, when I began to question what value my former occupation was providing me, and other people, what was important to me shifted drastically.

I don’t know about you, but I felt desperate to help, and also, at the same time, powerless. I’ve never in my life wished for a normal salaried job until I heard about the problems my friend Laura was facing as a Nurse in an NHS hospital. I wished I’d become a nurse so I could help, or a healthcare assistant, or some kind of ward helper to support the NHS, I’d clean up shit, anything, I just wanted to help, which is a selflessness I’m really not accustomed to. I’m the girl who wanted the laptop beach life.

Though I have, along with 400,000 other British people in the first 24 hours of opening, signed up to be a volunteer for the NHS, to deliver groceries, or call people who are vulnerable, etc, I felt, when all this kicked off, inspired to find other ways to help people during these difficult times, that could hopefully (whilst helping others) support the things that are important in my life too, financially, emotionally, and, I suppose ‘spiritually’.

The Coronavirus outbreak has been tragic, socially exhausting and economically crippling, and we’re only a few weeks in (I know… what a year this month has been), but I think to not plan for a long term change isn’t wise, and also a missed opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to finally become the people we really want to become, to write that book, to start that business, to build that app, to bloody well decorate the dated living room if that dado rail has been bothering you so badly, but have always cast aside for the fact it was hard to achieve and wasn’t necessary at the time.

We have opportunities, right now, more than ever, to do the things we’ve always wanted to do, that aren’t dependent on a booming economy, or being in close proximity to other people. You can still write your book even though the dow jones index is down 72 million points, and what better time to make your online business finally work? You’re at home anyway, and there is never a bad time to add value into the world if it’s something you care about like I do now. Value is never unessential. 

Working as a dancer is, especially now, not something the world needs. Yeh, I tried to emanate positivity, I’d like to think I had a solid impact on the girls I worked with and the people I encountered during this time in my career, but, ultimately, it’s an expensive luxury, and, potentially hazardous right now, along with many other businesses and services that require people to be near each other. 

There are more fulfilling, secure, and safer, ways to inject positivity into the world, and that is what I am now motivated to do. Now that my income has been swiped out from underneath me, now that I have the time to focus on what’s important, now that I can’t go anywhere for at least three months, and now, for the first time, I’m experiencing a strong impulse to do my bit to make the world a better place.

So, it is with great enthusiasm, (and relief, this thing took me ages) that I welcome you to my blog. I expect I’ll be talking a lot about my experience working as a stripper, and traveling the world, but you can also expect to read information I’ve learned about the economy, about society, about coronavirus, and even psychology, health, and communication, which are also very important topics to me. 

And as a swanky little bi-product, by using coronavirus as a force that’s outside of my control, that’s impacted the world in significant ways, that though initiated a full days worth of sobbing and various bouts of panic, self-doubt, fear, confusion, lethargy, I believe I can transform myself into a key worker by helping, inspiring, and okay, entertaining people, which hopefully means, I’m in no way shape or form out of work to do (especially if this post is anything to go by)

So yeh. I don’t think we will ever go back to ‘business-as-usual’, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With the right motives and determination, we can change our own lives for the better, whilst bringing a bit of positivity to other people right when the world needs it.

Caroline