If you can’t stay home, stay alert…!

14th May 2020

Richard Rankin continues to write his weekly diary, already on his seventh account which he shares with us…  On Sunday night, a collective nation, totalling millions of UK citizens, sat down to listen to the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 address. Despite the death toll going well beyond 30,000, each and every one of us hoped for good news, but if you were anything like me, suspected we had some way to go.  We were right – we were provided with a plan of relaxation rather than a lift.

I like his analogy to a mountain, we’ve peaked but are on our way down, however, coming down is fraught with danger and usually where most mistakes are made – you ask any mountain rescue volunteer on the Cumbrian fells.  Until that “R” factor continues to decrease and stay there we can’t get complacent and stop lock down measures.  Further behind England: Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are still receiving ‘the full treatment’ but with borders staying open. Once a more sustained effort can be evidenced, and all the graphs are staying on track, then and only then will life start to take more significant steps back to what it used to be.  Although I suspect it will never fully return.

Until then, England remains largely the same except for a few provisos, and an added allowance of more time to exercise and the ability to meet one other person outside your household, all within social distancing restrictions of course.  As an advocate of mental health wellbeing, this provided a sense of relief for me.

An area I was pleased to hear encouraged to get back to work in England was construction.  This is part of a supply chain that affects a significant part of our economy – the housing market.  As a group with a land and estates business, this was good news, as we hope that this, with the slightly relaxed measures of the lock down, can mean we will hit the ground running once things return to normal.  And return to normal they will.  We have several staff furloughed, particularly in the land and estates business and I sincerely hope they can all safely return to business as usual.

Another victim of this Coronavirus outbreak was the 75th anniversary of VE Day with all public gatherings cancelled.  However, a series of events still went ahead to mark the end of our fight against Nazi Germany in Europe during World War Two – 8th May 1945.  Within the parameters allowed for socially-distancing, some wonderful commemorative activities took place across the country: wreath-laying, 1940s afternoon tea parties, a two-minute silence, a re-broadcast of Winston Churchill’s speech and an address from the Queen, to name but a few.

I am again thankful that the linked May Day Bank Holiday came and went without any horror stories in the news of people flocking to the coast and national parks.  Being situated in the Lakes as we are here, and having been particularly hard hit by the virus, it could have been very different.

However, as many of us enjoyed the extended break sitting in our gardens, perhaps enjoying a barbecue and a few drinks, I need to recognise and thank our farmstock team.  They were, instead, keeping the business going and doing what they do best – continuing to service the breeding cattle and calf sales, and of course the next on-line timed sale of pedigree cattle.  A lot pf preparation is needed for these sales, and with strict guidelines in place this adds significantly to the workload, but each time the teams rise to the challenge and deliver the service we are renowned for.

I have mentioned our Reeds team before and the fantastic work they’ve produced for our essential services.  Whilst substantially below capacity they have used this opportunity to invest time in meticulously understanding the regulations for social distancing to design bespoke signage for our customers and were thrilled this week to launch our Social Distancing Support Bundle. The pack is designed for any business wanting to get back to work safely and provide clear signage to customers and staff on best practice and includes floor distance markers, posters and boards.  We hope this can be the difference between any business from butcher to nail technician opening safely or not.

Finally, some reflective thoughts for those who understandably are getting itchy feet after almost eight weeks home bound.  This unprecedented time is taking its toll on us all, whether we realise it or not.  So, let’s make sure we enjoy the additional breathing space we’ve been given but not forgetting what we are still trying to prevent is a second spike and minimise any unnecessary lives lost.  Go for the extra walk or run, enjoy our amazing country for longer periods, recharge those mental health batteries but be responsible and play fair.

My previous message has always been to stay home and stay safe, but this week I am changing this to if you can’t stay home, please stay safe.  Essentially, we must heed what the Government has communicated and stay alert just a little while longer.