What Is 'Lockdown' and How Are People in England Finding It?

6 min read

Level: Upper-intermediate

Get an insight into the highs and lows of being stuck at home...

It is safe to say that the way we socialise, access public places and travel has fundamentally changed, all over the world. In some places, people have to wear facemasks at all times outdoors. In others, places like cinemas, pubs and galleries have been closed. The list goes on. Restrictions have been placed on movement everywhere. Read on to find out what 'lockdown' actually is, how it has restricted movement and how people in England are coping with it.

What is 'lockdown'?

To stop the spread of the virus, governments in different countries have taken various measures. A lockdown is one particular type of measure. A lockdown is perhaps more stringent than other measures taken on movement, however. Why? It is more than just public places being closed. If there is a lockdown in an area, e.g. a country or city, it means specifically that people have to stay at home. They can only leave the house if necessary.

Never before had pasta and rice been more popular!

A lockdown is an official order imposed by the government. Therefore the people in power decide what is classed as necessary, and what is not. The rules for lockdown in France, for example, are different to those in England.

A lockdown can also take place on a much smaller scale. A specific building, or the people in it, can be placed on lockdown. This happens when there is a dangerous situation and the people inside, or outside, need to be protected. People or vehicles wouldn't be allowed to enter or leave the building. You might remember examples of this in the news. For example, when there have been school shootings and when violence has broken out in prisons.

'Lockdown' is usually a countable noun, so we should use 'a/the'. But we have been referring to it as 'lockdown', almost as if it were an event, or the name of the situation. Maybe in ten years it will be in the dictionary with a capital L!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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What was the first lockdown like?

Back when the virus really 'started' in the spring, lockdown was a shock to the system. It was the first time we'd experienced something like it. We were only allowed out of the house to exercise, buy food and medicine, help others in need, or if we couldn't work from home. People were a lot more fearful, anxious and confused back then. No supermarket online shopping slots were available and there was a lot of panic buying. You've probably seen pictures on social media of bare shelves in supermarkets. Never before had pasta and rice been more popular! Well, that's apart from the gluten-free, wheat-free, everything-free pasta which was left very much untouched...

It was even said that the birth rate was sure to go up! And the divorce rate too, unfortunately...

Eerie photos of deserted streets normally full of people also started to circulate on the Internet. Many people were comparing the situation to the apocalyptic scenes we've seen in many horror/sci-fi films. The phrase 'the end of the world' was on everyone's lips. People started working from home. Many who couldn't were furloughed. Children and university students started attending classes via Zoom. Nearly all communication happened on Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime and other programmes/apps since we couldn't visit each other's homes. Elderly people had to get used to using technology to talk to their grandkids. We heard 'Thank god for technology!' a lot.

Despite the wonders of technology, a lot of people did suffer. People felt very lonely, isolated and not to mention very bored. Getting used to being stuck at home all day and night didn't come easily to most. Many suffered from cabin fever and felt like they were going stir-crazy. So was there anything positive about lockdown?

Did anything good come out of it?

Yes. Many people were actually filled with hope. Pictures on social media circulated (you can see how big a role social media played) of local businesses donating and delivering food to vulnerable people, volunteers helping elderly people and generally communities coming together.

A great deal of people now talk about having 'Zoom fatigue'.

Lots of people also saw it as a great opportunity to learn new skills and finish things that they were normally too busy to complete. Want to know more? Check out our podcast 'What Do British People Do in Lockdown?'. People got creative with painting, drawing, sewing, baking and various other things. It also meant that people could finally spend quality time with loved ones, instead of being stuck on a train commuting. It was even said that the birth rate was sure to go up! And the divorce rate too, unfortunately...

So where are we now, many months on?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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How has the second lockdown been?

The second lockdown has been quite different for one particular group of people: students. Schools have not closed this time, which is the main difference between the first and second lockdown. For the rest of us at home, however, things have remained pretty much the same. The same rules apply—stay at home, stay at home and stay at home. Having said that, panic buying is no longer happening. Some big shops did not allow people to buy many of the same product. This has stopped people from stockpiling.

Listen one year from now and see if their predictions were correct!

So have we become a nation of artists and musicians? Have we used our time wisely and done all the DIY we had put off for ten years? Have we rekindled old friendships and relationships with far away family? I'm afraid not. While some super active people may have pursued their passions and kept it up, many people are unfortunately a little disillusioned.

Being creative was fun to start with, but for many it feels like the novelty has worn off. People are now simply bored and frustrated and are just waiting/praying for the vaccine. Constant online communication has become tiresome for many as well. A great deal of people now talk about having 'Zoom fatigue'. We are very good at one thing, however; Netflix. Never before has there been so much binge watching to keep us occupied. What's next, 'Netflix fatigue'? Let's see...

I hope this has been an interesting insight into the lives and minds of people in England. It certainly has been a rollercoaster! If you liked this post, why not listen to this podcast on our YouTube channel recorded by my colleagues? Alternatively, scroll down to watch it here. Two native speakers talk about what the world may look like after the coronavirus. Interestingly, it was recorded in April. Listen and compare—how has the situation changed since then? Listen one year from now and see if their predictions were correct! Why not take a one-to-one tailored Britcent lesson with a native speaker? Get help with vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and more.

Vocabulary takeaway


panic buying




What Will the World Be Like After the Coronavirus? | British Podcast with Advanced English

Watch this video on the Britcent YouTube channel, where you'll find videos, podcasts, audiobooks and more...

Please note: These blog posts are written in informal, conversational English.

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