Business365 editor, Simon Richardson – like so many other people on the Island – is working from home. He’s been keeping a daily blog about the experience and reflecting on the strange times we find ourselves in as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic.
So, what happened yesterday? We have been told we don’t have to social distance anymore from Monday and that to all intents and purposes the Isle of Man is now Coronavirus free.
It’s fantastic news, but how will people respond?
The country is still reeling from the events of the past few months and returning to normal human interaction won’t be easy. There will be those who embrace the news and comfortably revert to type, some though may harbour lingering doubts over the safety of being in close proximity to others.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes etc, which have been agonising over how to apply social distancing, and whether it would make economic sense to open at all, now have the green light to return to normal trading, as do shops, some of which have already been grappling with the many difficulties the social distancing mantra has brought.
It’s going to be a strange few weeks – whereas the watchword in recent times has been compliance it must now be patience. Those of us who are happy to pack into pubs and supermarkets without concern must respect others who prefer to keep their distance and build confidence over a period of days or weeks.
Residual problems will remain but this really is a time to celebrate. The Isle of Man has shown it’s up there with the best in the world when it comes to defeating Covid19. We are close on the heels of Guernsey and New Zealand and should take pride in our achievement.
We are often quick to bash our government, but we must also give praise where it’s due. Chief Minister Howard Quayle and his team have steered a course through uncharted waters and have remained resolute and focused throughout. Of course they have made mistakes, but their determination to follow a path they considered best for the Island rather than blindly mirroring the UK’s flawed and forever changing blueprint, has probably saved many lives.
A star performer has been Health Minister, David Ashcroft. His calm, reasoned approach has won many plaudits, and when forensically questioned at the daily news briefings, he’s demonstrated a strong grasp of the facts along with an unfaltering commitment to the cause of defeating the virus. His assured performances are in stark contrast to those of many UK Ministers who have floundered and prevaricated when asked the most basic questions.
What we mustn’t forget is that Covid 19 has brought pain and misery for many Island families, who have lost loved ones. The Abbotswood Nursing Home has been the scene of a national tragedy – one from which lessons must be learned.
It’s also been a torrid time for our health and care workers who have performed magnificently in the face of an invisible and unforgiving enemy, and deserve the plaudits they have received.
Economic measures to help people through the crisis have inevitably met numerous bumps in the road, but the unprecedented scale of the actions required should never be underestimated. The often-maligned civil servants who have toiled to introduce and activate all manner of new and complex schemes deserve credit and respect.
When the dust has settled there will have to be a comprehensive review of every aspect of the Island’s response to the crisis. But for now let’s enjoy the moment. We have all played a part in overcoming a deadly pandemic and shown that when the chips are down we can still call on our strong public and social conscience to collectively get us through. Now we have to apply the same determination and commitment to getting the economy back on track.