‘I don’t want friends who put others at risk’: has lockdown wrecked friendships?

Fighting over lockdown rules, clashing about coronavirus lies, or just stuck on endless boring Zoom calls: will your mates still be your mates after the pandemic?

Ellen Page, an 18-year-old university student from Northampton, was hospitalised with Covid last June. “I have never felt weaker,” she says. “I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. I had hot sweats. It was really scary.” During the four days she was in hospital, she took comfort in messages from childhood friends. “They were all texting me, saying, ‘We hope you get better, we wish we could see you.’”

Months later, these same friends began flouting lockdown rules. “It started with a few of them posting anti-lockdown tweets, saying that it was fine [to break the rules], because only a small percentage of people were dying.” Still drained from being ill, she focused instead on her studies. But then Christmas rolled around and, while most of the country was under tier 4 restrictions, Page saw her friends throwing parties and posting pictures of them on social media. “They were all gathered at their family houses, with three households together. Then in the evening, new people arrived. It was like there was no pandemic.”

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