As I’ve just turned 75, and my husband is also in his 70s with serious health issues, we are just two of the many elderly and vulnerable people who feel we have to self isolate to protect ourselves. In consequence, we have been doing this since March, the week before the government advised us to do the initial 12 week isolation. That’s 9 months so far, and next week, when we come out of this current month long national lock down, our area of Lancashire will be entering tier 3, the one with the most severe restrictions. We would have preferred the initial lock-down to be a more severe, short, sharp act of defense to prevent the epidemic rather than this start, stop, action which does nothing except slow it temporarily. That didn’t happen. Now we are left with the consequences.
I really don’t think the testing and tracing helps that much either, and such a huge amount of resources have been thrown in that direction. For one thing, testing results are only a guide to see if you have it on the day you are tested. If your results come back as negative, by the time you receive them, you may have actually been infected. The only way testing would work, is if you live alone, are tested at home, and stay at home, with no contact with others until you receive the results. If anyone else in your household is going about their business, then you could still contract corona-virus while awaiting your results. This doesn’t even take into account the people who won’t isolate, even when told they have the virus.
Until vaccination becomes a reality for everyone, the only real way of stopping the virus is a world-wide synchronised lock-down. No shopping, no eating out, no working (for anyone, even emergency services), no travel of any kind, no contact outside your household, at all. Yes, it does sound ridiculous and would be impossible to implement, but it would be the only way to eradicate it. Failing this solution, we are left with this on/off stab at controlling the numbers affected with the disease. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I’m convinced, there isn’t much else we can do.
So many businesses are struggling to survive in this current pandemic situation. It’s not just the small enterprises, but also the huge concerns too. Even knowing this, I still believe the temporary closure of businesses, where people meet and mingle, is the correct response to stop people spreading the virus. I know those who have businesses at risk will disagree with me but, in a civilised society, we have to put the welfare of people first, especially those who are vulnerable. It all boils down to a choice of protect the people, or protect the economy.
It is regrettable some businesses will close, without a doubt, but there are some new opportunities. A few businesses are booming as a direct result of the pandemic and ‘stay at home’ rules. The growth industries include online stores selling everything you can buy in the High Street, Online grocery shopping, delivery services, and PPE suppliers, and these are only a few of them.
Even with the new business opportunities, it is inevitable the number of people unemployed is increasing as the old businesses die. This may be a transition period while the new industries become established, or it may be more permanent. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, those who have lost their jobs, and often their self-esteem during this pandemic, must be helped as much as possible. Along with losing their source of income, these people may also have teenage children whose education qualifications have been compromised at this time, and younger children who have missed vital education lessons. All this disruption is bound to affect future opportunities for them. It is up to those in power to remedy this for them.
My 3 boys had experience of some lean unemployment years when they were in the early years of their working lives. Here is a poem I wrote about them, during that time.