I understand the economic imperative, as one sarky journalist put it, of getting businesses with rateable values back up and running. I understand the joy of some of my friends in the restaurant industry, who’ve been struggling to make ends meet behind locked doors, at being able to earn a few quid at long last. I also understand the ones who’ve said: “Re-open? In these circumstances? Not likely!”
I’m in the latter camp. Dearly as I would love to eat a meal cooked by someone else, and much as I would like to support the industry, I will not be booking a table at any of my favourite restaurants. I won’t be going to the cinema, the pub or even to the supermarket.
I know people have been suffering cabin fever and can’t wait for life to get back to normal. But it hasn’t, not yet. People are still dying.The pictures I’ve just seen on social media of people living it large in London’s Soho last night fill me with fear. Social distancing? I’ve seen people further apart at an Ibiza rave. Well, I’ve never been to an Ibiza rave but I’ve seen pictures of those too and they were not dissimilar. An image of lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff also springs to mind.
I’d say it was Darwinism in action but that would be to ignore the larger picture. All those people working in the hospitality industry you’re so keen to experience again after months of the coronavirus lock-down? You’re putting them at risk. The health workers you’ve been clapping so sanctimoniously every Thursday night? You’re risking their lives too, not just your own. Yes, I’m absolutely raging. Calm down? No, you calm down, you lunatic.
When the pandemic first began scientists were already predicting a second spike. Do we really need to be giving it such a massive leg up? I’m worried enough about the relaxation of the lock-down rules without people crowding together mask-less and glove-less and virtually licking one another’s faces.
I’m not just sitting here being holier than thou. Family health issues mean we still have to shield and I worry that even going to the doctor’s surgery to pick up a prescription could, in spite of their stringent hygiene measures, expose my household to a life-threatening infection. My paranoia is justified. Lives really are at stake.
I had to close my fledgling business because of the pandemic and I don’t qualify for government help. We’re better off than many, we are financially secure for now. It is still a blow, especially when you take into account the set-up costs, which as things stand I have no opportunity to recoup. As for making a profit, forget it. I can’t imagine I’ll be paying corporation tax for years to come. (So, some good news, then.)
I cannot re-open my cookery school because to do so would be to endanger the health and well-being of my students and I’m not that reckless. Nor, I would hope, are my customers. They’ve so far been very understanding but I don’t know how long I can sustain their interest when I can’t provide a date for a re-launch. I’m not alone in this. Thousands of businesses around the country are in the same position, living in a weird bubble of uncertainty and worry and often, mounting bills.
I’m guessing that most of the people who will read this will share many of my qualms. But if you’re one of the people who’ve been partying like it’s 1999, please take a moment to think. Take a step back from the person you’re standing next to. Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, you know.