‘Some people just aren’t bothered any more’ – York residents speak of their fears that many in the city are now ignoring lockdown

A sign in the window of the Golden Lion pub on Church Street, York. Photograph: YorkMix

There are growing fears that more people are beginning to flout the lockdown in York.

A reader contacted us to voice her concerns that a lot of people were not taking the social distancing rules seriously any more.

She said the traffic on Stockton Lane where she lives has “noticeably increased” in the last couple of weeks. “And over the last couple of days we believe it has returned to pre lockdown levels.

“At times today there has been an almost continuous flow of traffic. We cannot believe that every one of these vehicles is making an essential journey.”

So we asked people on Facebook if they had similar concerns, or whether they felt people in York were still broadly following lockdown.

In response, many said they had seen traffic increase significantly in recent days, and others reported neighbours having parties in their garden with visiting friends and family.

A number of contributors said recent suggestions from the government that lockdown will soon be relaxed have led more people to ignore the rules still in place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out a new strategy with more details on how the coronavirus lockdown will be eased at 7pm tonight (Sunday).

Parties and barbecues

Photograph © alisdair on Flickr

These are some of the observations from readers. You can read the full thread here.

“I’ve seen people having parties and family barbecues where extended family have turned up in cars and blocked the pavement making it easy to tell they don’t live there. My neighbours had a huge party with loud music and singing / shouting until midnight.”

“Around Rawcliffe there were loads of people blocking the pavements having VE parties. Fair enough but do it in your own gardens and not blocking the pavements.”

“Groups of people picnicking on the greens around the river, blocking pathways, being obtuse when you ask them to move so you can pass. Barbecues on St Peter’s Green, groups of individuals playing football – none of them adhering to social distancing. A total lack of consideration to others. When questioned I was told that “‘lockdown ends on Monday, so what’s another day or two?'”

“I was walking my dog in Huntington yesterday and there were loads of people having street parties and drinking/eating with only one or two feet in between them. There were groups of teenage kids out all together.”

“I live in The Groves and have heard people having parties in their back gardens. People don’t really care anymore about vulnerable people in our society and how damaging their actions could be.”

“We have had kids playing out in the street with neighbour’s kids, grandparents coming round and seeing the family’s garden parties, people walking their dogs with friends and not keeping distance… It’s a joke that some families are trying to stop the spread because they want to get back to normal life and other could not give a damn.”

More cars on the roads

Low Petergate in York on Saturday afternoon (9 May). Photograph: YorkMix

There was a lot of anecdotal evidence of people taking to their cars in greater numbers.

“On Thursday I combined my daily exercise with popping to the shops… felt like York was back to normal while walking down Bootham and back along the river. So many people out and about. There is also an increase in traffic on the roads… ever since not so clever Boris announced there would be changes to lockdown it feels like something has changed.”

“I’ve stuck to it but many on my street certainly haven’t. Seven neighbours all in one garden yesterday, 15 in another, one of our elderly neighbours has had his grandkids around weekly, my next door neighbour has had elderly visitors around and says its OK because she has autism. There’s countless people on social that don’t even believe the virus is real.”

“Definitely more activity, neighbours getting multiple visitors a day, Acomb high street is crowded again during the day, increase of traffic on the roads. We haven’t seen any friends or family for eight weeks and it’s heartbreaking, but it had to be done. We desperately want this to be over, but only when the time is right.” 

“Some people just aren’t bothered any more, bored of it and not sticking to it.”

‘People have been brilliant’

Stonegate on Saturday

Others, though, emphasised that most people are still following the rules.

“I think people on the whole have been brilliant, we need to be careful not to make assumptions or judgements. Parties and clear disregard to the rules etc are obviously not okay but people have different circumstances.”

“We go out on our bikes most days and York is still decidedly quiet. It’s difficult to judge because people are allowed out for exercise, so therefore more people go out and exercise rather than jumping in a car and going somewhere. Yes, walking down some of the streets there appears to be a lot of people and similarly down by the river but it is quiet. Yesterday, we saw five people in Homestead park at about 11. Don’t judge all this on the muppets who choose to socialise.”

And others made the point about the risks of ignoring the lockdown.

“My partner is an embalmer for various funeral businesses and I’m sure he would confirm that this isn’t over yet folks. In fact we are a long way from it. His workload at the moment is horrendous – he’s not on the frontline but the end line.

“Stay home… stay safe… stay well.”