It’s felt like a giant petri dish, a huge experiment in the British capital, these last few days amid coronavirus concerns.
London: A city that should be emptying, but where instead sidewalks and stores are crammed, and metro stations are closed. Rumors swirling of a 15-day lockdown mean nearly everyone you talk to is out panic-buying something, even if the government tries to insist “lockdown” is the wrong word.
The changing advice and the lack of widespread testing leave the collective impression here that it is either too late to stop what is happening, or something, inescapable and mammoth, is looming. This densely packed city of over 9 million simply can’t make up its mind. Some shelves are empty, but some bars full.
“It looks as though London is now a few weeks ahead” of the rest of the country in the virus spread, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said out of nowhere on Monday. And given that the UK is meant to be a few weeks behind Italy, that gave the impression that collapse was imminent. But the lack of widespread testing here, means we — and Johnson — simply don’t have the solid data, just the modeling.