[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]We have been promised a ‘route map’ out of lockdown by the Prime Minister later this month.
It is anticipated that he will announce the reopening of schools in early March and then, hopefully, he will lay out the plans for the long- awaited reopening of the economy.
Whatever the dates, the milestone’s, and the timescales, the one thing that must be guaranteed is that this plan will be a definitive one. No more flip-flopping. No more moving of the goalposts. No more lockdowns.
Whatever your view of the government’s ‘led by science’ approach to the pandemic thus far, there is now no doubt that COVID is here to stay and we will have to learn to live with it. The vaccination will enable us to do this with more confidence but, like the flu, there will still be people who get infected and there will still be people who, sadly, die.
What we must focus on now is tackling the huge number of problems that the pandemic has caused during the past ten months.
Unemployment will be north of 2.5million. Visit England have said that up to 50% of hospitality businesses will close. Other sectors are far from immune either. Expect a swathe of company closures post-Easter. The economy has shrunk and the teething problems with Brexit will further pressure UK commerce.
On the health side, too, a list of issues will need to be addressed. Cancelled operations. An explosion in mental health and anxiety cases. Not forgetting social tragedies such as child abuse and domestic violence.
Then, of course, there are children and young people. A radical plan to help those who have missed out on nearly twelve months of education is needed to address what is a travesty for a generation.
I am confident that, despite all the trials and tribulations of 2020, the economy will ‘bounce back’. There is pent up demand for the travel industry, bars and restaurants that survive, culture, sport, and the events industry to take full advantage of.
Evidence also suggests that the car industry can expect a boost, particularly manufacturers of hybrid-vehicles, and there will be a healthy market for those who can offer unique experiences and luxury products.
All eyes will be on the Chancellors budget on 3rd March, and if he does anything other than announce big spending plans on infrastructure, incentives for business investment, innovation, Research & Development, Rishi Sunak will have missed a trick. He should take a leaf out of President Biden’s book – now his is what I call a ‘rescue package’.
But it is beyond the economy that the government will struggle with most. We already had a poor range of services for mental health. The NHS was underfunded and under pressure pre-COVID and needs an overhaul of management and strategy as much as it needs huge cash injections. Those in our most deprived communities will prove the hardest to help in terms of the education agenda. And a new wave of deprivation will befall a new generation of the population.
When this becomes apparent the scientists will have left the stage. Those who were demanding harder lockdowns and a total shut down of the economy will have moved on to a government bashing agenda criticising its failures to get to grips with mental health, NHS waiting lists, unemployment, poverty, and poor educational standards.
When they do, they should look themselves in the mirror and ask, ‘was the prize worth the price’? Time will tell, but I am not convinced that in a decades’ time we will be looking back at lockdowns, the closing of schools, gyms, and even hospitality establishments and seeing them as the best idea a government – or a scientist – has ever had.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnR3aXR0ZXIuY29tJTJGRG93bnRvd25GcmFuayUzRnJlZl9zcmMlM0R0d3NyYyUyNTVFdGZ3JTIyJTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJ0d2l0dGVyLWZvbGxvdy1idXR0b24lMjIlMjBkYXRhLXNob3ctY291bnQlM0QlMjJmYWxzZSUyMiUzRUZvbGxvdyUyMCU0MERvd250b3duRnJhbmslM0MlMkZhJTNFJTNDc2NyaXB0JTIwYXN5bmMlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnBsYXRmb3JtLnR3aXR0ZXIuY29tJTJGd2lkZ2V0cy5qcyUyMiUyMGNoYXJzZXQlM0QlMjJ1dGYtOCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRnNjcmlwdCUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row]