‘So many people are struggling’: City placed into Tier 4 reflects on ‘worrying time’
Written by on 26 December 2020
Millions of people are now living under Tier 4, England’s highest level of COVID-19 restrictions, which includes a “stay at home” order.
The new measures, which mean the closure of all non-essential shops, as well as hairdressers and gyms, now apply to 24 million people in England, which represents 43% of the population.
The whole of Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest, is now in Tier 4.
One restaurant owner in Winchester says entering Tier 4 during the festive period “could be the last fight for survival”.
Under the rules, pubs and restaurants are allowed to open for a takeaway service only.
Rehan Rehman, who has run a takeaway restaurant in the city since 2018, says: “It is a worrying time, not just for me, but for the whole country.
“If we hit the wall then it is what it is, but we are going to keep going until the last minute and hopefully the virus will disappear.”
He adds: “For 10 months we have been struggling. I don’t want things to end like this.
“I have already lost one staff member, but I am worried about what will happen next.”
Despite the government advising people to stay indoors, Winchester resident Jay, 32, still spends most of time on the streets.
After seven years of being homeless, it’s what he’s used to.
A bag of belongings is at his side as he sits on the street’s paving slabs. His comfort is a towel that does little to soften his worries.
“I’m in pain every day. I struggle every day. I want it to end. Every single time I open my eyes, before I even open my eyes in the morning I’m already worrying and tossing and turning. My anxiety and heart is already going a million miles per hour,” he says.
Tougher rules begin for millions in UK
Thousands of homeless people, including rough sleepers, were put in safe accommodation at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak as part of the government’s Everyone In initiative.
Some charities say they are more likely to have underlying health problems, which puts them at even greater risks when it comes to coronavirus.
Jay has now been provided with temporary housing but still struggles financially, so he relies on donations from the public.
“I feel like I am always constantly chasing the next meal and it just gets a bit old and a bit daunting. I wish I could focus on something else, something normal,” he says.
“I got some food delivered recently and someone stole my meal. I was out at the time and I got back half an hour late and the food was not outside my door anymore. It’s just an example of what happens when so many people are struggling.”
Julie Plested, 52, relies on support from family and friends but says current restrictions mean she is unable to see anyone outside her household.
She says the past 10 months have been gruelling with no end in sight.
“It’s just a nightmare. Nobody knows what’s going to happen or when it’s going to end. I am disabled. I have health issues so getting out the flat is important for me, but I am scared,” she says.
“I go to bed worrying if I leave the house and catch the virus I might not wake up again.
“This is all taking a big toll on my mental health. I know so many people who are also struggling. I’m hoping we can get through this with the vaccine.
“We really need it or a lot of us won’t make it to next year.”