Foreign Correspondent: May 26

Do not adjust your set. Foreign Correspondent this week is not a comedy, despite its title, “Carry On Covid.”

This is reported by ABC London correspondent Samantha Hawley.

‘This crisis is accelerating economic and social trends that already exist but have just been turned up to 11.’

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Britain hard. More people have died than in any other European country.

Its economy has had a shock too, with the Bank of England forecasting the country will now enter its deepest recession in three centuries. Unemployment is set to more than double.

Carry On Covid takes a snapshot of England through the lockdown, canvassing pub owners, school principals, carers, students and experts, from the south to the north, about their fears and hopes for life after corona.

When London publican Viv Barrett closes for the lockdown, she wonders whether she’ll ever re-open. Before the crisis, British pubs were already closing at a rate of 14 a week.

“We may not survive which means this industry will go under, which means the breweries will go under…and if it’s closed, where do these people meet?”

As school principals send their students home, they worry about the long-term effects.

“The impact on the children of the absence from school is going to be massive… these children will probably be labelled in some way as the coronavirus group of children.”

With more than a million school children relying on free school meals, the principal of a London high school worries many will now go hungry.

“The most vulnerable in society are going to be seriously affected by this virus and there is really no clear plan as to how we support them through this.”

In the country’s north, plans to revitalise the local economy are grinding to a halt.

“What we need to avoid is a coronavirus crisis that actually deepens those inequalities that we see in the country”, says one Labour MP from the north.

Emerging from his own battle with corona, Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes the country will be changed, for the better.

“We will come back from this devilish illness. And though the UK will be changed by this experience, I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before, but also more generous and more sharing.”

8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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