Ive got FOGO fear of going out coronavirus article on The Tonic

Are you afraid to go out as lockdown restrictions lift?

As lockdown lifts a bit we spoke to two readers to find out how they’re feeling about the new normal. Are they happy to start going back to normal or have they got FOGO – ‘fear of going out’?

Emily, 56 from Chiswick

“I had a feeling things were going to be bad really early on. I remember reading the news in January or February and thinking, ‘this doesn’t sound good’. It was all about this unknown virus coming out of China and everyone seemed worried. I remember thinking, shouldn’t we be doing more to stop this?


So here was a plague. That’s what I thought. It felt biblical.


“I think I’ve always been a bit of a catastrophist – I believe that wars and plagues and famines come around regularly, and it seemed like we were overdue one of those. So here was a plague. That’s what I thought. It felt biblical. Like, a way of the planet and the forces combining to stop the madness, and reduce the population.

“I know that sounds mad. I felt mad thinking it. But anyway – here we are. I actually ‘locked down’ earlier than a lot of people because I felt worried about what was going to happen. I mean, I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew I didn’t want to be involved!”

Worried as restrictions lift

“So now I see the restrictions being lifted and I’m really worried. It feels too soon. I can’t help thinking there will be another wave, maybe more than a second wave actually. Looking at the photos of people on beaches and so on, really makes me anxious.

“I’ve developed a routine during lockdown – I do go to the shops but I’m really strict about it. I try and go when I think it will be least busy, and I wash everything when I get back home, and then I shower and change. There is a history of emphysema in our family and anything to do with lungs I’m scared about.

“I also really liked it when the road and streets were quieter and there was less pollution. Honestly, if I could have anything, I’d love it to be like that all the time. But I expect it’ll just go back to where it was before. I’m in no rush to go outside though. Not in amongst all those people. I’m afraid of being out there, among them, and I’m going to have to work on that I think.”

John, 68 from Teddington

“I don’t really remember the war. I was born in 1942, so although I was technically alive, I don’t remember much. Vague recollections of sirens perhaps, but as a nipper I remember post-war Britain very well. Playing in the bombed out areas, and having to be hungry a lot. I remember that! Everyone was skin and bone.

“I remember how close communities were and how everyone knew everyone. It’s not like that now. Most of the people in my street are strangers, although I have had someone knock on my door and ask me if I’m alright, which was kind. And I had a note through one day too, asking me if I needed anything. That actually made me a bit teary. I rang the number on the slip to say thank you. It was a young lady a few doors down. Then I worried about touching the paper. I hate this feeling of fear.

“It annoys me when people compare this pandemic to the war effort. I know people are just trying to get through the days and make sense of everything. But we had years and years of compromising everything, and all anyone has to do at the moment is try and keep themselves safe and clean. Stay at home. That sort of thing.”

Going back outside?

“I don’t want to go back out there at all. Just seeing small crowds of people on the pavements makes me angry. Perhaps they all live together. I don’t know, it feels really cavalier. At my age I think coronavirus would be quite serious, so I do worry about catching it. One of the ladies I know at the local pub caught it and has passed, sadly. I think that’s the reality, people are forgetting it can be fatal.


I think that’s the reality, people are forgetting it can be fatal


“My daughter has been amazing. She doesn’t live too far from me and she’s done a weekly shop for me, so I haven’t had to go out at all really. But now, because I’ve got used to being indoors all the time I do admit, I feel a bit fearful of the great ouside.

“I’ve loved seeing more birds in my back garden. When lockdown first came into force it was like stepping back 50 years. A lot less cars on the roads and so much less noise. I really liked it.

“Now it just feels like everyone has gone straight back where they were, and the noise is back. I’m in no rush to go back outside or do anything. I’ve got my little garden and now it’s easier to get shopping deliveries it’s less pressure on my daughter, although she visits to keep my spirits up. I don’t have any grandchildren sadly so I do feel a bit lonely. I often wonder what will happen in the end. Will this just keep going round and round?”


If you’re affected by loneliness or anxiety or worried about your mental health contact MIND mental health charity
You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123 at any time

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Sam Harrington-Lowe

As editor at the Tonic, Sam works with an extraordinary array of...

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