The tricky path back

By Simon Richardson (Editor)

The Isle of Man Government, like many others around the world, is discovering that shutting down an economy was considerably easier than starting it up again.

The Cornavirus crisis has demonstrated the fragility of systems we thought to be rock solid, but has also shown that when the chips are down we are able to pull together as a community and work towards a common aim.

The Manx Government’s anti-covid response has, by and large, been coherent and impressive – though inevitably mistakes have been made. The vast majority of the public have supported the actions of the politicians and have embraced the measures that have been imposed to prevent the killer virus from sweeping, out of control, through the Island.

That said, the complex process of cranking up the economy, saving jobs and getting children back to school is where the Chief Minister and his team will be put to the test like never before.

They have the unenviable job of balancing the risk of a spike in the virus against the dire need to restore confidence and equilibrium to the economy. There is also another critical factor at play – public confidence. Keeping the public onboard is essential if the phased re-opening of the various sectors of the economy is to run smoothly; there are significant pressure points with many businesses close to collapse – with or without the current levels of government support.

People have been through an incredibly difficult period and government ministers know that every statement they make will be pored over in minute detail. Clarity, fairness and respect for the delicate sensitivities of those they represent, must be at the heart of everything they do and say.

The recent furore over the Senior Race Day Bank Holiday fiasco showed the importance of getting the PR right. To keep everybody pulling together in the weeks and months ahead it has to be faultless.