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Thailand to UK: Oh how COVID-19 has changed the landscape

Thailand to UK - David Barrett’s new abode in Cornwall
Written by David Barrett

For David Barrett, after 32 years living in Thailand, this former senior travel executive recently returned home to the UK to set up home. Here’s his story…

  1. Landing in the UK early on in the pandemic coming from Thailand was like night and day.
  2. People gasped when I walked into a bank wearing a mask, not because they thought I wanted to rob them, but because they thought I was ill with the “Chinese virus.”
  3. Should I stay or should I hightail it out of here?

One year on and a reversal of fortune. A year ago, well just over, on March 18, 2020, I flew to the UK on a mission to view a prospective property investment in Cornwall. I was in Southeast England for three days prior to the planned train ride and trek to Cornwall.

Day Two in the UK, with Brits grappling with the early days of the pandemic, and I went to visit my bank for an appointment. As I walked into the bank wearing a mask, I could hear customers and staff gasp as they stepped back and looked at me in fear as I was wearing a face mask. A young clerk rushed up to me and ushered me into a small meeting room. The bank manager then came in and was horrified to see me wearing a face mask. “Are you ill?” she questioned. “Have you got the Chinese virus?” I replied firmly that I was wearing the mask for my safety, as she could well be infected and carrying the virus. At which point the young clerk rushed into the room, hovering above the seated bank manager and began to spray a fine mist of disinfectant into the air. The droplets did not reach me but landed on the manager’s laptop and hair. Annoyed, the manager scolded the clerk saying, “You’ve wet my keyboard!” Before the clerk had a chance to justify his biosecurity actions, the manager pointed to the door and wiped down her computer.