I had months to plan Saturday’s trip to my local and I thoroughly enjoyed it, socially distanced, and having a long-awaited catch-up with my pals. And I enjoyed my haircut, in preparation for a visit to Cambridge later today to meet shoppers and traders to find out how it’s all going for them.
Watch this space because I’m looking forward to reporting back on being out and about, hearing first-hand about the challenges people are facing and finding out what I can do to help.
Breaking out is hard to do, but I’ve always contended that, with common sense, courtesy and awareness, we can reclaim our social life and give sorely-needed support to our hard-hit business neighbours and hope for the many workers terrified of losing their jobs if customers don't return.
As a society, it seems we’ve been in two minds about when exactly we should venture back out for leisure activities and non-essential shopping. The stats show we’re pretty much torn down the middle. But the way I see it, we can’t hide away in our homes forever, so we might as well blink back into the daylight in a cautious and orderly way.
In fact, it’s not only we punters who’ve been in two minds. Many traders themselves didn’t feel quite ready to open on Saturday – some are opting for the 15th, for example. Some are waiting longer. Everyone’s been aware it’s a big thing that needs to be done properly. Nobody wants to open until they are confident everything is 100% ready for staff and customers and ticks all the Covid-secure boxes.
So it’s going to remain a sensible precaution to check before you go whether your chosen destination is open, check if it is running a booking-only or timed-visit system. With many places remaining closed for a bit, it’s quite likely that there will be growing pressure on the ‘openers’, so calling ahead must be the best option.
I think we owe it to those businesses that do open to welcome them back. Personally, I’ve missed them. And I want to show it. They’ve had a terrible time during lockdown and have worked unfeasibly hard to be ready to open for us, learning all those new rules and regs, putting in the screens and sanitizers; working out all the modified systems required to be Covid-secure – booking, queuing, spacing, ordering, serving, paying, cleansing…..
Going forward, even if we drop in just to say: ‘Welcome back’ and to sink a quick half, that’s great. If we can stay longer and have a sensibly-spaced pub lunch in the garden, that’s even better. The key thing is not to drop our guard – being a good neighbour and a good customer or good client means abiding by the rules created for all our safety, covering our faces when we should, keeping up the physical spacing, and washing our hands properly.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s still not second nature, so we’ll need to work at following the guidance, work at thinking about the safety of the people around us. None of us has been here before, or done this before, so getting up to speed will mean effort. As I said at the beginning of the Covid crisis, we need to be kind to each other.
And that still includes staying at home if we suspect we might be carrying the virus.