//Gill Sherry//

After a year of uncertainty, it’s good to see that things are beginning to look a little brighter.
To use the age-old cliché, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That said, it would be foolish to think we can just carry on where we left off, resume our lives as though the global pandemic never happened, as if the deadly virus didn’t sweep across the world like a fearsome tsunami. For a start, it’s impossible to ignore the death toll (over 2.5 million) and the physical, emotional and financial devastation left behind by COVID-19.

Despite the shocking statistics, there are those who still believe it is all one big hoax, a simple case of fake news. Others are taken in by a web of conspiracy theories, convinced the virus was artificially created and used as a bioweapon. Other conspiratorialists claim that those in power are using the pandemic as an excuse to inject spying software into an unsuspecting population. Whatever your take on the subject, the last twelve months have been undeniably challenging.

Emerging from the pandemic will also be a challenge. Again, opinions will differ. Some will be impatient to get on with their pre-COVID lives. They will be eager to book a flight, travel abroad, attend concerts and sporting events. They will wave goodbye to their facemasks, throw out their hand sanitizer, forget the words ‘curfew’ and ‘quarantine’ ever existed. The more prudent individual will, perhaps, holiday locally, continue to wear a mask in public, adhere to social distancing.

Provided everyone pays heed to the advice, the journey back to normality should be relatively safe. It’s important to remember, however, that we are all different and that people’s attitudes and ideas will vary. Coupled with the fact that one country’s vaccination programme will differ greatly from another, an element of caution is still required.

Personally, I have no intention of boarding a busy flight or a crowded train until I am absolutely certain it is safe to do so. If this means I’m unable to visit a foreign country for the rest of the year then so be it. Granted, the travel industry has suffered just as much as any other (if not more) but ploughing money back into the local economy and enjoying a so-called ‘staycation’ is still, I believe, a step in the right direction.

My guarded approach is, I suspect, shared by many. Whilst I am keen to re-establish my social life, I’m also a little apprehensive about re-joining the big, bad world. If lockdown has taught me anything, it is to appreciate my surroundings and be thankful for what I have. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home during the enforced lockdowns, something I consider a privilege rather than a hardship. Emerging from this safe, comfortable cocoon will, I fear, be somewhat daunting.

At the other end of the scale, those of a more audacious nature will be dashing out to coffee shops, restaurants and fashion stores with the cavalier attitude of ‘you only live once’. This is not necessarily a bad thing – the economy needs these carefree spenders – provided they are COVID compliant.

It will be interesting to see if our spending patterns return to their pre-virus high. Released from the habit of buying new clothes, shoes and fashion accessories, many of us have come to realise that we don’t actually need any more of these things. Our wardrobes are already full, crammed with enough garments to open our own store. Buying more would be frivolous, superfluous and (possibly) damaging to the environment. But that’s a different story.

Such extravagance serves to highlight the dire situation of those in need and the fact that charities have also suffered at the hands of COVID-19. With so many people losing their jobs or having their income curtailed, the amount of money donated to registered charities fell significantly during the last twelve months. Fund-raising events were cancelled and charity shops were forced to close. Like many businesses, these not-for-profit organisations will struggle to recover from the long-term effects of the virus. Something to bear in mind when you’re rummaging through your wardrobe.

Returning to the subject of the local economy, it’s my intention to support as many small, local businesses as I can. Unfortunately, some have already ceased to exist, victims of the pandemic that chased away consumers and forced them to close their doors. Those fortunate enough to remain, still face a long period of uncertainty and will rely on the continued support of their customers if they are to survive the recovery period intact.

Regardless of our differing opinions, varied spending and diverse holiday intentions, it’s clear that vaccinations are the key to this long-fought battle with COVID. So let’s roll up our sleeves and start the judicious journey back to normality.

< Back