A good 7 months ago the UK was closed to the world. Then it got hot and it opened again. Bars and boutiques bloomed like wildflowers for a few blissful late summer months, and the simple pleasures of drinking coffee in a cramped café or leafing through the Argos catalogue in-store were returned to us. It felt like we’d done our time and got points for good behaviour and just in time for the golden summer days we could have a laugh with our mates again.
Turns out that reprieve was short-lived and we’re back inside again. The run-up to Christmas will be markedly different this year but save for a few knowing lines of dialogue in the Christmas adverts; you can close your eyes, jingle some sleigh bells and pretend it’s 2019. You can! I promise!
Despite the British national psyche’s collective propensity for gloom, you can bet at least jolly old Jeff Bezos and his merry elves toiling away in a warehouse off the M6 are clapping their hands with glee at the prospect of bricks-and-mortar stores closing up shop for the festive period. If ever there was a better time for a retailer to be based entirely online, you can bet your boots it would be a global pandemic. This isn’t to say other retailers haven’t adapted their business models to suit the current climate with a Click and Collect policy operating in most UK retailers.
For many nine-to-fivers this time around at least, there won’t be the looming threat of upheaval to their working lives. Having started to work from home, it seems plenty of employers have come to the conclusion that this way of working was great all along and kept things ticking with the same plan. It allows employees to have more time with their families and more flexibility in terms of planning their weeks. With all this technological convenience, bosses can monitor their employee’s output, just like them being in the office. The home-working revolution has been quiet but has unambiguously arrived. Frankly, it’s been difficult to put the genie back in the lamp.
A shame, though, that an extension of the furlough scheme was not announced earlier as many employers have felt compelled to sack their staff as they thought they could not afford to keep them, when in truth if they’d just held out a little longer thousands of employees may have had steady incomes for winter. A weird game of chicken where there haven’t been any winners.
This time, perhaps due to the swirling controversy around their actions last time, the government has left the schools open. With many grades already handed out and January exams fast approaching, one can only assume this is planned to give the kids a fighting chance at properly earning their next set of results. Something close to normality for Generation Z will be some comfort to parents and pupils especially considering viruses famously don’t infect children (a joke).
However, in an actual bit of brilliant news, American pharmaceutical company Pfizer has developed a vaccine that is 90% effective. Boris Johnson has told us to temper our expectations and not let our imaginations run away with us but I think it’s safe to say we should be a little excited. With a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s at least nice to look at. Merry Christmas everyone, 2021 is on its way!