Shropshire Star comment: Things should be different by spring or summer

By spring, or summer, things should be a lot different. Yet it would be foolish for us to imagine returning to the place that we used to consider normal. Covid-19 has changed our lives irrevocably and some changes will be long lasting. We have lived through a period of rapid change and there will be no rapid return to the way things used to be.

People at Euston station, London, with the public being urged to adhere to Government guidance
People at Euston station, London, with the public being urged to adhere to Government guidance

History teaches us that the 1920s were roaring, a place where anything went and people made up for lost time, following World War I and the Spanish Flu, which killed so many millions. It’s a reasonable assumption that we too will want to let off steam; to see friends, to enjoy live entertainment to gather in huge numbers and, of course, to spend time with family and loved ones.

Yet our way of life has changed. As we live with the likelihood that Covid-19 will become a seasonal illness, rather like flu, might we in the West join our friends from the East in wearing masks on a regular basis? Such a phenomenon might have seen far fetched 12 months ago. Now, it seems more likely than not.

There have been other changes. Our High Streets have been deserted for much of the year and there’s little prospect of us moving away from living digital lives to the analogue versions we used to know. Our connection with the internet has been cemented through 2020, hasting a decline of bricks-and-mortar trade that might otherwise have taken far longer to occur.

Some patterns of behaviour will surely return, however. We are social, gregarious creatures by habit and it’s impossible not to imagine shaking hands, hugging loved ones or putting an arm around the shoulder of a friend in need. Social distance will shrink once the vaccine is rolled out and we find confidence to reconnect. There may, however, be a permanent shift away from towns and city centres and people look to work remotely and find a room with a view. We need no longer slavishly tie ourselves to offices when remote working can be equally productive. The structural changes in our society might also be matched by similar in our personal behaviour. Community spirit, the power of kindness and a willingness to help others have characterised 2020; let us hope that trend continues.

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