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Shropshire Star comment: We all need to observe the rules over coronavirus

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Lockdown has begun. Too many people were unable or unwilling to follow the rules and the Government has been forced to act.

We could not police ourselves and resist the temptation to resume our normal lives. So, for a while at least, those lives are suspended and we must remain indoors.

It is difficult to be overly critical of our Government. The situation is evolving rapidly and decisions are being made without the luxury of time. The Government cannot afford to be reflective or to look at nuance and detail. It has to make broad, sweeping policy changes to keep us safe, to reduce the number of deaths, to protect those unwilling to protect themselves.

Huge gaps remain in the Government’s contingency plans, not least the fate of the nation’s five million self-employed workers. Yet it is not straightforward for Chancellor Sunak to intervene.

While many self-employed people also have jobs, many who were registered as self-employed no longer are. Many who were registered as employed are now self-employed and the Government does not hold the bank details for the five million people concerned.

It is beyond challenging. HMRC does not want to put public money into the hands of those who do not need it, nor does the Government wish to deprive those who do.

Coronavirus:

There are huge issues and complications to resolve. And yet we all have a moral duty to observe the rules, to break the chain of Covid-19 and prevent its spread. We should err on the side of caution, not making trips out if they can be avoided, finding digital ways to reach out to friends and family, following the suggestions of the Government not just in word but also in spirit.

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Covid-19 will pass eventually and at that point we will remember those who did the right thing, who put the community first, whose efforts and resilience helped to defeat the virulent disease.

We live in a great liberal democracy. Covid-19 may well bring us closer together. For now our duty is to follow the rules and stay at home.

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In normal times, the money would be starting to flow. Our tourist industries would be waking from their long, winter hibernation to harvest revenues that will sustain them through the year.

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But these are not normal times and tourist industries are waking to find famine. There are no visitors, there is no money, there is no goodwill or public support.

The Severn Valley Railway, Ironbridge Gorge, the Black Country Museum and others across the West Midlands and beyond have struggled through lean winter months, through devastating floods. Now, as the sap rises and the bulbs flower, they would hope for an upswing that will see them through to late autumn. It is not there. We are on lockdown and there will be no visitors tomorrow, or in all likelihood for some months to come.

When Covid-19 relents, it will be up to us to play our part. Expertise, goodwill, voluntary hours and more will help our tourist industries to rally. Importantly, it will be up to us all to support and spend money on local attractions, knowing that those funds will recirculate through the local economy.

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