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.
How many of you had a bit of a celebration last night? The removal of social distancing etc was the green light for life to return to normal – whatever that is. We all have our own normal, so trying to pin down what the ‘new’ normal actually represents is above my pay grade.
Anyway, it feels good to be able to do most of the things we took for granted pre-coronavirus. I don’t know about you but I think people are actually being nicer to each other at the moment. Whether it’s just to do with the great weather we’ve been having, or something more fundamental it’s impossible to say. We were out walking a lot at the weekend and it seemed that everybody we passed or came into contact with was happy to return your smile and, in many cases, engage in conversation. The percentage of grumpies who would do anything they could to avoid eye contact, was noticeably lower.
Everybody seemed to be out enjoying the weather and making the best of the Island. On Sunday we headed up to the normally quiet Sartfied Beach at Jurby for a walk and – without exageration – the approach road was a bit like the car park at Tesco on a Saturday morning.
Watching the TV news for the next few weeks will be a bit odd. Bulletins will be dominated by new virus cases, social distancing, R numbers and contact tracing – none of which will now be relatable to our situation. Clearly we hope that the UK can soon catch up, but in the meantime the simple truth is that we are a Covid free country and the UK isn’t. Boris Johnson’s bizarre decision not to close the borders when countries all around Europe were pulling up the drawbridge has, it seems, been a tragic mistake.
We do though, have much work to do to restore the Island’s economy to good health. The fact that we have managed to contain and hopefully eradicate the virus, in a shorter space of time than expected, could save the Manx Government millions of pounds – even so, the cost to the Island has been huge.
The hope is that as the service industries gather momentum in the weeks ahead, many of the jobs lost during the lockdown can be restored. There might even be long term economic benefits from companies discovering new and more efficent working models as a result of the crisis.
Over the years we have shown ourselves to be a pretty resourceful lot. I’ve been around long enough to see several predictions of pending economic Armageddon founder on the rocks of bloody-minded optimism and determination.
It would be too easy for us to descend into a period of Celtic gloom, when the truth is that – as a country – we have dodged a bullet.
Keeping alive the revived sense of community spirit and selflessness that was kindled during the coronavirus crisis will be a challenge, but surely we should all give it a go?