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‘Please don’t shut our pubs again!’

PUBLISHED: 11:59 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:30 03 August 2020

Do you agree with the idea that pubs and restaurants should be shut to enable schools to re-open?  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Do you agree with the idea that pubs and restaurants should be shut to enable schools to re-open? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

The hospitality industry was dealt a fresh blow over the weekend, with mutterings from the scientific community suggesting pubs and restaurants should close in September, enabling schools to re-open.

Professor Graham Medley, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies sub-group on pandemic modelling told the BBC: “I think we’re in a situation whereby most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children and that when we do that we are going to reconnect lots of households.

“And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities may well be required to enable us to open schools.

“It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other, and then that’s a matter of prioritising. Do we think pubs are more important than schools?”

With the travel industry on its knees following an about-turn on air bridges to holiday hot spots such as Spain, the last thing our economy needs is the rug pulled out from under our already fragile food and beverage businesses.

While the virus looms large in some major cities, with a disaster declared on Sunday evening in Manchester and threats to lockdown London, we in East Anglia seem to have been able to keep the R rate at a relatively low level (for the timebeing).

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I would hope, before initiating such a divisive plan, the government takes a long hard look at its regions, putting in place localised, sensible measures based on fact, rather than drawing up a blanket shut down for the whole nation.

I strongly feel that, if Suffolk and Norfolk continue to demonstrate a lower than average R rate, our restaurants, pubs and cafes should not be cut off at the knees when autumn comes around – they cannot be penalised for the rise seen in larger cities and sprawling urban communities. Quite frankly, many of them will not survive- particularly those which were unable to achieve grants during the summer.

Of course we all want our children to go back to school – but is the mass shutting down of food and drink businesses the way to go about it? Are they paying the price for those air bridges being opened (much too hastily in my opinion) in the first place?

Like many parents (mine are 12 and 14) I’m keen to see my offspring back in the education system. I’m the first to admit my kids ‘went feral’ towards the end of the summer term. But I don’t want them to return at the expense of our vital, incredible food community. I also question the changeable advice and muddy guidance on going back to the classroom....as do teaching unions. Where is the sense in passing a law for masks to be worn in shops, while allowing pupils and teachers to go mask-free in the new term? I, for one, and I know other parents too, don’t want our youngsters to be ‘guinea pigs’ come September.

Wouldn’t it be better to try and operate classes remotely via Zoom or other video sharing technology, with children having a timetable of meetings to join with their teachers throughout the week? A friend of mine’s son used this method very successfully with classmates in the lead up to the summer break.

Granted, this solution is not one fits all. There are many parents who cannot afford to be at home or cannot work from home to provide childcare. But throwing them all back into what’s essentially a mass-scale experiment (we know they won’t be able to socially distance properly –they’re children) while damaging the livelihoods of thousands of businesses surely can’t be the only solution?


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