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Shropshire Star comment. Be a Hero not a Zero

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Coronavirus has brought a bonanza for some businesses – and you only need to see the empty shelves at the supermarkets for the proof of that.

Staff have been worked off their feet. Corner shops and groceries have been worked off their feet too as the supermarkets have run out, with some shoppers prepared to scour towns for fresh produce, the now notorious toilet rolls and tissues, and so on.

Muller is taking on 300 more people because demand for dairy products has been soaring. This is the other side of the coronavirus coin. It has led to a holed, skewed, economy, temporarily distorted by the virus crisis. Amid an ocean of losers there are a few winners able to ride things out.

As there are many more losers than winners, it is the fate of that ocean of losers which will determine how we get through the other side of the crisis.

Shopping centres have been facing pressures from the internet and changing shopping habits even without the disastrous new dimension to their troubles.

Merry Hill owner Intu, which has already warned it is on the verge of collapse, says it has only been paid 29 per cent of quarterly rents. It had previously warned it was facing £2 billion in losses across the company.

There will be many commercial concerns, both big and small, which have been just about managing. And now they have to contend with the coronavirus outbreak, which can hardly be called the straw which broke the camel’s back. It is more like a gigantic haystack dropped from a great height.

Even with the new emergency measures to help the self-employed and freelancers, which come on top of the measures to protect the bulk of the income of those workers hit by the nationwide shutdown, widespread hardship is inevitable. As things stand we cannot avert the misery this enemy will bring, but we can influence the duration of that pain.

So obeying the restrictions is not just a matter of protecting public health and saving thousands of lives, it is also a duty if we are to protect our economy and save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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If, years ago, you had written a book which reflected the reality of the last few days, it would perhaps have found itself on the science fiction shelf.

It would have been a work of the imagination. We are living as real-life players in that unlikely story. Communities are in lockdown and an entire populace is effectively imprisoned at the behest of the government.

In our pages over the past week we have been taking the temperature of towns across Shropshire.

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Centres which were buzzing are now deserted. Vibrant towns have no vibrancy. People are staying at home and working at home.

It’s a response which you might not have been confident to bet on. We have lost our freedom and we have accepted it.

Overnight, we have been asked to exist in a strange and unfamiliar new world and have adapted to it.

These are still early days. If even some of the more optimistic predictions are correct, we shall be hit by a tidal wave of coronavirus cases.

Potentially we face months of living in a disaster movie. Script yourself as one of the heroes.

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