Shropshire Star comment: Risky business?

Just a couple of days to go now to the big, uncertain, and potentially risky, opening up.

Shoppers in full flow
Shoppers in full flow

It is the moment that English cafes, bars, and hotels have been yearning for. Enough progress has been made in fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic to allow this move – a limited and conditional reopening of a swathe of businesses.

But while those in Shropshire are given freedom, just across the border in Wales their doors will remain closed. In a place that straddles the border, like Llanymynech, establishments only a short distance apart will have very different fortunes – one allowed to open, another forced to remain closed for now.

Even amid the relief of being able to reopen at last, there is a question mark over whether some establishments will be able to operate profitably. A return to normality, it is not. People running places with the attraction of an easy and informal atmosphere find themselves in the position of having to understand the government guidance as it affects their business, and then put the measures in place, and ensure customer discipline in following them.

Restaurants, for instance, are urged to keep a temporary record of their customers. That places staff in the position of not just serving customers, but collecting their data.

Busy pubs are of course crowded places. Social distancing and crowds do not go together.

And then there are all those for whom the July 4 reopening is not even a false dawn, as it is not a dawn at all, for they must remain closed in law.

Places such as nightclubs, beauty salons, and indoor play areas. For them the hardship and worry continues.

The limited reopening will throw up issues and problems which will have to be worked through, but the nightmare scenario is of it all going wrong, leading to a renewed lockdown.

So these welcome new freedoms impose great responsibilities on everybody to play their part in minimising the risk. Being safe and sensible will be the difference between the reopening being a stepped return to normal life and it being a reckless gamble.

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