The New Normal

As many of you know, I have for some years written a weekly column for the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News, the local free sheet distributed to 80% of homes in South West Devon Constituency. Sadly, due to the pandemic, that publication is temporarily suspended, hopefully to re-emerge once things are easier. I have decided, as Parliament starts a new term, to continue the weekly columns, but place them on Facebook instead. This first one is being boosted out to PL7, PL9 and PL21 but thereafter you will be able to find my thoughts each Thursday on my Facebook page.

Here it is:

When will this all end? When will things get back to “normal”?

Answer: probably summer 2021 and never.

First of all, we are never going back to the way things were before the pandemic struck. Many social changes have become embedded and many lessons have been learned. Many organisations will be enabling their staff to work from home in the long term, with consequent impact on people movements and office accommodation. The High Street may never recover from the surge in internet shopping that the pandemic has brought. The role of the internet in most of our lives has catapulted in recent months. No putting that Genie back in the bottle.

There will be an end to the wearing of masks and social distancing but not until a reliable vaccine is invented. The hunt is on for this and some of the cleverest scientists world-wide are sprinting to be the first to cut this Gordian Knot. There is no guarantee a vaccine will be found; in which case the slog will be even longer than I anticipate. But, as a sunny side up person, I am banking on Quarter 1 or 2 next year as the time when a vaccine will be commercially available. It will still have to be rolled out to the majority of the population meaning that by next summer we will be moving and meeting and hugging and singing again and the horrors that we have lived through will start to fade.

Because children returning to school is an absolute priority – for the sakes of their young lives and mental health – and because of the likelihood of an autumn spike in the virus that seems to prefer cold weather, I doubt if there will be much scope to further relax social restrictions before next spring, so we had all better buckle down and anticipate a long winter. Hopefully, because of the lessons that our brilliant medical people have learned about this new virus, even when we get a spike in coronavirus cases, this might not lead to a massive rise in hospitalisation or death rates. But we will all have to be careful, especially if over 60 or vulnerable. Doctors tell me that this virus does not just kill people but can mess up our vital organs for years to come.

What a year we are living through. We will come through it, hopefully stronger. Stay safe.