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‘I left California to travel Europe… now I’m quarantined in Blackpool’

Though needing to isolate due to her disability, Stevie Boebi says she ‘loves’ the seaside town.

An American who had planned to travel Europe has ended up quarantined in Blackpool due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Stevie Boebi, a YouTuber from Los Angeles, crossed the Atlantic to tour almost a dozen countries and was in London when the pandemic came to prominence in the UK.

Having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), Ms Boebi is vulnerable to coronavirus and was worried about being in the capital, so travelled to Blackpool with her girlfriend, who is from the seaside town in Lancashire and whose sister had a spare room.

“We came here, I didn’t know how long this would last and then lockdown started,” Ms Boebi told the PA news agency.

Ms Boebi’s novel lockdown surroundings went viral last week when she tweeted: “I can’t believe I sold all of my belongings and left my dream house in Los Angeles to travel Europe in 2020 and now for six months I’ll be stuck in Blackpool, England.”

Her condition means she needs to isolate, so Ms Boebi said she “can’t really tell” where she is except for the sounds of seagulls and during the Clap For Carers on Thursday evenings.

“They’re all so sweet and they bang their pans and some guy comes out with a megaphone and says ‘if anybody needs any tea, pop by I’ll give you some’,” she said.

“I love the North of England way more than London… when I’m in the North I can be like ‘oh my god I like your scarf’ and they will be like ‘oh my god I like your hair’.

“I feel like people in the North of England are a little more American.”

Asked what she’s learned from her experience so far, Ms Boebi said: “I just want to cook meals every day, wear a f***** apron, plant some flowers in the North of England.

“I don’t know what that’s gonna look like down the line. Maybe I’ll move here, who knows? I love Blackpool.”

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As a disabled person, Ms Boebi added that she hopes people are learning about access issues while in lockdown.

EDS is a rare genetic condition which in Ms Boebi’s case is accompanied by mass cell activation syndrome, which often causes symptoms of an allergic reaction, and postural tachycardia syndrome, a heart condition.

“Which just makes it difficult for me to do things, like standing up for more than five minutes,” said Ms Boebi.

Ms Boebi said she is “loving” the new accessibility brought about during the pandemic, such as working from home and online meetings, but raised issues with the way change has been brought by the virus.

“At first, it was like ‘well (coronavirus) only affects the elderly and disabled so it’s fine’, which made it feel like we’re expendable – like our deaths are fine because we’re sick,” she said.

“Then, on the other hand, it’s like ‘oh so now that people who aren’t disabled need accessibility, now we all of a sudden have it?’

“So many disabled activists have been fighting for things like Zoom meetings and things like having schools be online for so long and they have been told forever that ‘sorry that’s just too expensive’.

“I hope that it doesn’t go back to normal like before. Working from home for a lot of people, not just disabled people, is more convenient, cheaper and accessible.”

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