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Room for hope in 2021

Diane Hall


Image of needle extracting oxford covid-19 vaccine

Following the rollout of the Oxford vaccine programme that’s dominating the news this week, politicians and scientists are claiming that we may see a return to some aspects of normal life by Easter—or summer, at the latest.

Despite the fear that the new South African strain could cause even more havoc in the UK than we have already seen through 2020, those in the know remain confident that the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines will be able to offer some level of protection against this highly contagious mutation of Covid-19.

They believe that we’ve finally turned the corner. Should we follow their lead and trust that this year will be better than the last?

In the same news bulletins, however, there’s speculation that we may have to enter another national lockdown during the cold, dark months of January, though this has yet to be confirmed as I write. There are calls to close schools, colleges and universities from a portion of the population, with the same strength of voice from others to keep them all open. Though I’m not necessarily a fan of the way the government has handled the pandemic, I do think that they’re on a hiding to nothing…there’s no solution that will please everybody.

As ITK rounded off the year just a week or so ago, we spoke about 2021 being the year of thriving. Now that we are administering vaccines to the vulnerable around the clock, those without underlying health issues, the asymptomatic and the young in society may be able to enjoy some of the things we used to before long. Which means some businesses in stricken sectors, such as the hospitality and leisure industries, may be able to open again in a matter of months.

After such a terrible time in 2020, these businesses will have no idea if they’ll be able to hang on long enough to throw their doors open again. Though most were already well-equipped to cope with social distancing, due to all the extra precautions and equipment they’d installed, they’ve taken the biggest hit since the virus reared its head. An Easter opening will perhaps be doable; a 2022 reopening…well, that might be just a little too far for some of them.

Hope that the scientists are correct is key. Most of us need hope, in order to make a situation more bearable until the problem eases. Given that it’s natural to feel a mood slump in January any other year (Christmas has gone, it’s freezing cold, and often still dark as we start work as well as when we finish), having Covid as a companion this New Year we may need all the hope we can get…to ride out this crappy wave of doom until we reach a fresh start in Spring, i.e. when the sun starts to show its face and there’s signs of new life from Mother Nature.

Maybe the key for any business owner—indeed, any human being—is to stay away from the news until then. The media cannot decide if it wants to scare the living daylights out of us or whether it’s a bearer of good news during the crisis. We don’t know who to believe, and it doesn’t help us either way—the virus continues to show us who’s in charge anyway. Best to just concentrate on the things we can control (however limited).

There’s absolutely nothing wrong in hoping that the vaccines will be the breakthrough so badly needed, and that we’re only a few months away from a more welcome way of life—I’d much rather cling to this hope and feign ignorance to anything the media will report over the coming weeks than let its doom-mongering erode what optimism I have left.

At this time of year, it’s natural for business owners to make plans, set goals, visualise outcomes. Don’t let the pandemic stop you doing any of those things. Even if, when looking back at the end of 2021, none of these outcomes were realised, so what? At least you dared to hope…

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