OWhile the photos of the Prime Minister at a rally on November 13, 2020 have raised questions about the credibility of the Partygate investigation, they have also caused some to reflect on what they were doing that day.
As England was under a 28-day ‘circuit breaker’, its second lockdown, Boris Johnson appeared to raise a glass to a colleague’s No 10 as he left drinks.
Elsewhere, others were attending socially distanced funerals of relatives, delivering babies alone and caring for Covid patients.
Here, some of those whose lives have been deeply affected by the restrictions remember the date.
“I was entitled to a few hours off to go to the funeral”
When I looked at the pictures, I realized that was the day we buried my Uncle Bob. There’s a picture of my wife and son Zachary, who was born just before the first lockdown, standing in front of the crematorium.
I was only entitled to a few hours off work in the morning because I was on call in the Covid service.
My uncle was a massive, larger-than-life figure whose funeral would have been packed under normal circumstances. But there were about 20 of us and my aunt was still too sick with Covid to attend.
When they were both in Chester’s high-dependency unit with the virus, staff had their beds rolled into the same room so they could spend their final hours together. I was standing in the back due to my exposure to Covid.
It was heartbreaking not being able to hug Archie, my godson and grandson of Bob, who was around 16 at the time, at the funeral. It all felt awful and wrong to me, and then I went back to the rooms.
I understand a lot of the difficulties the government was facing, but this photo upset me incredibly this morning because of the sacrifices we were making. It made my blood boil.
Gareth Jones, 40, respiratory consultant, Liverpool
“It’s a moment you can never go back”
I was in labor with my first baby after doing all my scans alone. I went to the hospital around 6pm and my partner was not allowed in until I was in established labor around 4am the next morning. I spent about 10 hours alone – it’s so overwhelming even now.
The midwives were lovely and really supportive. I can’t fault the care I received, but it was my partner I wanted with me. He wanted to be there to support me and I think he found that very difficult too.
Although he was allowed to visit me the next day when my son was born, he still had to leave at 6 p.m. and return the next morning. My son also didn’t meet his grandparents until he was six months old.
You can go to another party next week, there’s nothing particularly significant about any of them. But having a first baby is a really important moment that you can never get back.
How the hell can you run this country and have the arrogance to think you’ll get away with this stuff?
Xenia Davis, 41, choirmaster, London
“Seeing the photos makes me cry”
I was home with my children while my partner was hospitalized with lung cancer, diagnosed in May 2020. He had had a complication with his treatment and stayed a week after I left him at A&E because we couldn’t get in.
Between work and while the kids (infants at the time) were on their screens, I was trying to talk to someone in the hospital about what was going on with him.
According to my WhatsApp messages, this is also the day he finally came home. The kids knew their dad was really sick, but luckily they were young enough that they didn’t think he was going to die, which was in my head.
it makes me cry when i see this picture [of Johnson]. Can’t believe this was happening as we tried our best to make sure no one caught Covid.
My partner, who is better now, is less shocked. But I think going through his treatment alone really added to his trauma.
The images take me back to that time in a rather painful way, but it angers me that the strategy is to try to make us forget.
Hannah (pseudonym), 43, NHS psychologist in the North West of England
“I became more and more isolated”
On November 13, 2020, I was battling a mental health crisis brought on by intense fear of Covid-19, frustration over mismanagement by the government, sadness over the death toll and the isolation imposed on me and my my colleagues because of the confinements. There was nothing in my journal that day, that week, or the weeks before and after.
My employer had sent everyone home, which was the right thing to do. But over the next few months, the lack of contact with my team members caused me to become increasingly isolated and ineffective in my work. I lost the feeling of belonging to something that I had really enjoyed before.
My employer is generally very supportive. But in some cases, managers broke down and simply didn’t know how to manage a team in this situation. I benefited from the advice of my employer, which was useful to me, but I finally decided to leave my job.
A number of people left my employer at the time for similar reasons. I feel so aggrieved and disappointed with what is happening with our government and our Prime Minister. It makes me very angry and very sad when I think about what we’ve all been through and how we’ve all played by the rules.
Zoe, 50, works in education, Cornwall
“If I had known what I’m doing now, I wouldn’t have followed the rules”
November 13 is the day I received a phone call from my mother’s number. It wasn’t my mother on the phone, however, but a paramedic calling to say my mother had died. She died alone in her apartment with assistance after months of not being able to visit her in person due to restrictions.
At 89, she felt desperately lonely but otherwise healthy. She had told me on the phone earlier that week that she would “try her luck” with Covid if I could visit her. But I told him no, I have to follow the rules.
If I had known then what I know now, I would not have thought like that. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the impact of the lockdown that killed her.
If I could go back I would definitely break the rules and make sure I was there for her. Sandra Gould, 61, teacher, Leeds