Mansfield's experiences of the 'new normal'

With restrictions easing in Nottinghamshire, people are beginning to get a taste of what the new normal feels like.

By Katrina Taylor
Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 12:00 pm

Post-lockdown haircuts, meals with family and a proper pint are all now possible, but the recent ruling that face coverings are now mandatory in shops has meant that there is still a constant reminder that all has not reverted back to normal, pre-lockdown times, in Mansfield.

As someone who was diagnosed with anxiety in my early twenties, coronavirus has not been the easiest experience.

The constant worry about catching the virus, alongside being out of my usual routine has meant that I, along with many others, have not felt particularly comfortable since the news of the virus reaching our shores earlier this year.

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You may not be able to tell, but I am smiling behind the mask

I have taken all the precautions possible, but have now had to face the reality that this is just how our lives are going to be for the foreseeable, so I have begun to ease myself back into everyday activities over the past few weeks.

My first haircut was, in all honesty, a breeze – the staff at Studio 29 had taken every precaution possible to keep their clients and staff safe, and it was a relief to rid my hair of the lockdown greys.

I was not quite ready to face a busy pub, so my first meal out was breakfast at the recently refurbished Ciao Bella – this, again, felt remarkably normal as we were ushered to our socially-distanced table and witnessed staff using hand sanitiser between serving tables.

Angie Jackson visited The Brown Cow on Ratcliffe Gate on July 17 for her first proper pint. She said: “It felt weird being served at the table and not being able to try the ales first, but it was so nice to be sat out in that secret garden again.

Bethany Goodman-Ward and daughter Bonnie visited The Red for Sunday lunch.

"Rob and his staff have done a great job.”

Bethany Goodman-Ward gave birth to daughter Bonnie during lockdown and visited The Red on Bancroft Lane for Bonnie’s first public outing.

She said: “It was one of the first times we’ve actually been able to take her out in public.

“We went to the Red for Sunday dinner.

Sally Gillborn and daughter Alexandra attended Andwhynot's Robbie Williams tribute.

"It felt very safe and well-organised – we loved it.”

Live music was finally given the go ahead to resume outdoors from July 11, meaning venues worked quickly to organise events.

Sally Gilborn attended Andwhynot’s ‘concert in the car park’ featuring Dan Budd as Robbie Williams, with her daughter Alexandra, and praised the event’s organisation.

She explained: “Despite the rain, everyone had a fantastic time.

Coral Riley attending her first aerial fitness class at Mission Studios this weekend.

"Everyone was well-behaved, tables were set apart and everyone just seemed pleased to be out.

“Damien and the team planned everything with precision – the weather certainly didn’t dampen everyone’s spirits.”

Gyms and fitness centres also reopened this weekend after four months of closures.

Coral Riley completed her first aerial workout at Mission Studios on Wood Street yesterday after several months off.

She said: “It was so hard due to being away for so long, but it was so much fun as the class is smaller, so more one-to-one time with the instructors.

"You also had your own piece of equipment rather than sharing.

“I’m just going to ache until I get used to it again but it was so good to be back.”

I had tried to avoid supermarket shopping wherever possible during lockdown, as it made me feel very vulnerable, despite the obvious restrictions and safety precautions in place.

With the announcement that masks were made mandatory in shops as of July 24, I visited Tesco on Chesterfield Road on Friday, unsure what to expect.

Having seen the outpouring of outrage and conspiracy theories all over social media throughout the country, I expected to see angry shoppers being refused entry and frazzled shop workers getting abuse simply for doing their jobs.

The reality in Mansfield on this occasion, fortunately, was a stress-free, well-organised experience with almost everyone I came across duly wearing a face covering, including staff members.

Gemma Dring visited Mansfield for the first time since the new ruling on masks came into place.

She describes her experience: “It was strange – I wasn't sure if I needed one on inside the Four Seasons but most were wearing them, so I did.

“I was a bit puzzled as to why the shop workers don’t wear them on the shop floor though?

“I had a sweaty nose and top lip and steamed up glasses by the end of it – it was not an enjoyable experience but a necessary one.”

What has really concerned me about the whole mask debacle, was something that has become increasingly apparent during lockdown; the online hatred and vitriol aimed at anyone with a differing opinion.

Whether that be on the subject of Black Lives Matter, social distancing or mask-wearing, it is almost as if we have forgotten how to get along during the pandemic.

‘Keyboard Warriors’ are nothing new, but it would seem that the lack of socialising during lockdown has left people feeling disassociated with other humans.

People somehow find it easier to be increasingly derogatory towards each other online, and I have lost count of the number of friends who have admitted they have fallen out with people during lockdown over differing opinions and receiving abuse.

So will human interactions and our ability to maintain relationships be another cost incurred by coronavirus?

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