Our Year in Lockdown: When the world stood still and everything changed
Our lives have been in limbo for a full year.
In March 2020 we could not have imagined that we would be still be living with lockdown restrictions a full calendar year later.
Every single person will now have had a birthday during this pandemic - a celebration, at best muted, at worst cancelled.
It has been a year like no other.
We worked from home.
Bedrooms became classrooms as schools closed.
Public transport operated ghost trains and buses as passenger numbers plummeted.
The hospitality trade was mothballed.
Hospitals completely changed the way they operated.
And our streets fell completely silent as we all heeded one very simple, three-pronged message - stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.
It was on March 23, 2020 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and sent us all into lockdown.
Overnight, we had to change the way we lived as everything stopped.
Looking back on our coverage of March 2020 gives a glimpse into those first steps into a very uncertain world.
We started to queue to get into supermarkets, and when we got in we found some shelves stripped bare as panic buying set in.Suddenly everyone stockpiled loo roll and flour, while hand sanitiser became the most precious commodity if all in our bid to stay safe.
We learned to wash our hands often, we kept facemasks in our pockets, and had a go at the clumsy art of elbow bumps which replaced handshakes as human contact was severed and we all tried to work out what two metres looked like to observe social distancing.
Those early weeks also saw severe restrictions on how long, and how far, we could go outdoors for exercise. The plus side was it gave us a new found appreciation of the parks and open spaces on our doorsteps as life became truly local for the very first time.
And there was fear - real, genuine fear - as the number of infections rose by the day, and the grim death toll started to impact.
All we had to talk about was the virus.
When we didn’t talk about it, we read about it online, or tuned into the daily updates from the Prime Minister and then First Minister.
Grim scenes of frontline hospital staff kitted head to toe in protective gear underlined the scale of the threat we faced - and, as we finally understood, and appreciated, the enormity of the task they faced, so, we lined the streets every Thursday at 8:00pm to clap for our carers.
The noise of pots and pans being banged became the soundtrack of summer, and, daily walks were made that little bit better at the sight of so many posters of rainbows, the ultimate symbol of hope, appearing in windows everywhere. Slowly we found positives amid the most challenging of times.
One year on, we’re almost there as infection rates fall and vaccinations rise.
But the impact of 2020: the year of lockdown will shape how we live, work and play for some time to come yet.