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.
From a journalistic perspective July and August are strange months. We are officially into the unofficial silly season, where decent news stories are generally harder to find and daft tales of knitting dogs and fifteen yoke eggs abound.
It had looked like the Island’s downtrodden hacks might be rescued this summer by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, but – thanks to the Manx Government efficiently despatching the virus from our shores – we are left with the usual seasonal crumbs to feed on.
In this case we have no complaints; getting rid of Covid19 has been the result of a remarkable effort all round. Let’s hope we have seen the last of it.
So what will you be doing this summer? Have you booked your break in Guernsey yet? Or are you heading into our own wild hinterland with its scenic grandeur, wallabies and midges, for a Manx staycation?
For us it’s probably the latter, though we really do need to brush up on our timings. Over recent weekends we have trudged miles along our lovely, clean beaches hoping to spot some of the many Dolphins that have been sighted around the Island’s coasts; didn’t see any. And we have trekked up to Jurby Head to look at the old wreck of a steam trawler half buried in the sand; sadly the tide was in.
But despite these minor setbacks we’ve had some great walks and have started to really appreciate some of the things we had maybe started to take for granted.
It’s true that in relative terms the Isle of Man is in a good place – but we mustn’t forget that compared to where we were four months ago, things are very different. The economy has taken a huge hit and our unemployment figures have soared. Many local businesses are hanging on by their fingertips and more jobs could be lost when the government support schemes are withdrawn in the Autumn.
Many families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, despite the assistance provided.
We have good reason to be proud of our achievements during the pandemic, but the euphoria brought on by eradicating the virus is tempered by genuine fear over what the coming months may bring.
It doesn’t help that our biggest trading partner, the UK, is in such a mess. The coronavirus is still dominating the political agenda – pushing the little matter of Brexit into the long grass. The country may emerge from the coronavirus at the end of the year to find itself cast adrift from Europe with no deal, and having to throw itself at the mercy of the Trump regime.
The Isle of Man has taken a big financial hit, though – as the Chief Minister has admitted – nothing like as big as it could have been. With fortitude, a fair wind and a bit of luck we can weather the storm and forge a new path to prosperity. How effectively we can do it depends to some extent on how quickly the UK can sort itself out and return to growth. Sadly, that doesn’t look like any time soon.
But, to end on a happy note, it’s the Tynwald Bank Holiday weekend coming up – so get out your shorts and T shirts (or wellies and puffa jackets) and head out into the countryside, breathe some fresh air and rejoice in the fact that in many cases the best things really are free.