The latest upswing in the pandemic in the North West is hard to take. This week most people will have experienced their plans being disrupted once again when it was hoped that high summer would bring joy and relief.

I am involved in the Lymm Festival in Cheshire, the highlight of which is the Historic Transport Day. For years it was a wonderful example of a major event inspired by community volunteers attracting vintage cars, canal boats, fun rides, and traders from all over the region. Last year’s cancellation was hard enough but this year all the preparations had been made only for hopes to be dashed at the last minute.

People with weddings and wakes will have felt even more upset and those who have caught the new variant must be most in our thoughts.

But it gets worse, putting aside the serious health issues and the disruption of people’s social and holiday plans, this damned pandemic is now eating into the soul of the nation.

People are bitterly divided on the decision to continue the restrictions until late July. I don’t think the government had much choice having been slow in taking action over the Indian variant. But opponents are suspicious that caution is becoming contagious and are furious with people who pontificate from their comfortable homes while people with less space or a need to go to work, suffer.

Another divisive issue is vaccination. The government are right to get tough with care and health staff. They must know the medical facts about the safety of the jab. Some will lose their jobs if they persist, bitterness will result. Another sad effect of the pandemic.

Now we come to the world of work. The government are beginning to realise they are going to have to continue support for business while they maintain the restrictions. Landlords are never popular, but they are beginning to point out that they have bills to pay and claim some businesses are refusing to pay their rents when they are actually able to contribute. More division.

Finally, there are the zoom champions, people who think it is going to be a good idea to permanently discuss business behind a screen. There is even a suggestion that the government are going to give people a legal right to work from home.

What about the networking that sparks ideas? What about seeing if a decision really does command the wholehearted support of colleagues without grasping the unstated atmosphere in a room? What about the divisions that will arise when employees who are prepared to come into the office regularly, get the promotion denied to the stay-at-homers? What about the accountability of decision makers who find it easier to run things without dissenters around?

Despite the fine weather and success for England and Wales on the football pitch, this is truly the summer of our discontent.


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