Safe reopening is the best possible business

THE extraordinary risks associated with reopening our economic, social and personal lives which were placed in an induced coma in March are all too evident now, based on the bitter experiences of other countries.

From China to Spain, and from America to Australia, there are reports of spikes in the number of people infected by the coronavirus following attempts in those countries to return to some kind of normality.

In the States, the pandemic is now so politicised that it’s doubly toxic. President Donald Trump is a buffoon who acts as if science has no role to play - rather like the way he rubbished the notion that climate change had anything to do with human behaviour.

And because of his refusal to confront the risks the virus presents, the US is now recording record levels of infection. States that were reopening are now reintroducing restrictions they thought they’d seen the back of.

Therein lies the gravest threat to our own attempts to work our way out of this disaster by creating a manner of going about our business that is safe and allows for livelihoods to be restored.

We simply cannot lose sight of one fundamental fact - this virus is as deadly today as it was when we went into lockdown in the middle of March. It still has the capacity to ruin lives, destroy families and, inevitably, kill people.

That powerful, fly-on-the-wall television documentary broadcast by RTÉ last week perfectly illustrated the clear and present danger that Covid-19 represents.

We cannot afford to be distracted by demands to return in haste to previous patterns of behaviour. If we really want to be safe, we have to take things slowly.

A calm, step-by-step, and well-considered reopening is what’s called for. Such an approach is in all our interests - and is particularly in the interests of business owners.

The last thing business needs now is a reintroduction of restrictions. Such a reversal would be utterly destabilising for business planning, bridging finances, and cash-flow projections.

Therefore, business people have most to risk from an ill-judged leap towards a full relaxation of restrictions.

As long as this dreadful virus remains unchallenged in terms of vaccine or medicines that can treat the symptoms, we have to learn to live with it. That means treating it like the deadly enemy it really is - and changing our behaviour accordingly.

Now, it’s all about mitigating the dangers - and we do that best by reducing the risks, by observing social distancing, safe cough etiquette and washing our hands more than we ever thought we needed to prior to this plague.