Opening up the economy needs to work for everyone
“Let’s open the golf courses. It’s easy to physically distance while playing golf”. Or “We need to allow e-commerce because it’s easy to socially distance when you deliver goods to my house”. Or “Let’s open the drive-through takeaways because I don’t need to get close to anyone when I get my order.”
I’ve heard all of these and more. And for some people, these comments betray them. Because they only see the “front end” of all these worlds that they imagine just magically happen.
They arrive in their private car at their country club to play a round of golf and they do physically distance. But they don’t see the crowded greenkeeper’s changing room where the small army of mowers, rakers and gardeners get changed. They don’t think of the public transport the caddies will have to catch to get to the club a few hours before they do. The same goes for the kitchen and bar staff. They don’t see the coronavirus spreading between all these people.
They put in an order online, and a few days later it is delivered to their door. They don’t see the minimum wage labourers in the warehouses that have to pack their boxes. They don’t see the minimum factory workers who make the goods they ordered, nor the truck drivers who take it from factory to warehouse and on to the courier company. They don’t see the coronavirus spreading between all these people and going home to their families too.
They drive in their private cars to the takeaway restaurant and pull up to the window. They don’t look behind that window to the kitchen staff, who are sweating and cramped together in the tiny kitchen. They don’t see the cleaning staff or delivery drivers or warehouse staff or the labourers all the way back to the farm suppliers who form a long chain of human contact, each one spreading the coronavirus.
We don’t need to see these people behind the scenes as we go about our normal daily lives. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
So, please try and remember that for every little thing you feel you want to have access to right now, even if YOU are safe and the front end of that activity looks sanitised to YOU, there is a whole team of people who are much more at risk who will need to work hard to make it possible. Lockdown is about those people as much as it is about you.
I am not saying we shouldn’t open up the economy, bit by bit. All I am saying is that it is not as easy as it looks, and affects a lot more people than you probably imagine. I am not saying these low wage earners wouldn't be really grateful to earn some money (I hope their employers have been paying them anyway). But I am saying that their health and safety should be as much of a concern to you as yours is. Please consider all those people and not just yourself.