What is Coronavirus (COVID-19) and what does it mean for me?
By now we are all well aware of what Coronavirus is. At least the basics and the danger, if not the specific details. We are all aware of the lock-downs in place in various countries, and the pandemic status applied by the WHO. But what does Coronavirus actually mean for someone like me? An ordinary person. At this stage it is impossible to tell what it is going to mean, or what effect it may or may not have, so at this juncture I can really only explain what effects it has had so far, and what my thoughts, and concerns, are, for the immediate future.
Up until recently I have generally maintained a good humour about things, joining in the laughs about singing songs while washing hands. It’s incredible really, how easy it is to forget just how many people have died so far, how many more may die, and the status in other countries. In the UK, the government don’t really appear to have more of a plan than “try and stay away from other people” and “wash your hands”. As an introvert I would love nothing more than to stay away from people, and to self isolate, but self isolation and statutory sick pay don’t pay the bills. So what do I do?
The answer is simple. I keep going to work. I keep putting myself in an unknown level of danger every day, by going to the office, and carrying on with my work. Then at the end of the day, I come home, and expose my wife and 14 month old daughter to everything that I may or may not have been exposed to at work.
So what are my employer doing?
Do you want the long or the short version?
In short: They’re doing what they’re advised to do.
Various emails have been sent round about hand washing, and the importance of hygiene, along with copy paste stuff release on the gov website, but outside of that, nothing useful.
I think the think that concerns me most is that fact that according to ACAS and the Health and Safety Executive, employers are under no obligation to do anything useful. They are not required to tell you if there are concerns over staff members being infected, nor are they required to tell you if a staff member has been confirmed as infected, and most amazingly of all, they are under no obligation to send staff home, or shut down work sites in that same event.
This means there is no alternative but to keep going to work, to earn money, to pay bills. If I don’t go to work, my bills don’t get paid. If I get signed off, or self isolate, my bills don’t get paid. If i self isolate, following the current advised of the British government, I will get paid approximately £100 per week, or £400 a month. My bills are £1000 a month. Who’s going to pay the other £600?
Ergo, I keep going to work, to an office full of people, every one of which is a potential carrier. At least for the time being.
We have now received an email update from the General Manager about the company implementing working from home, and that they’ll be giving all staff an extra weeks holiday so that if you need to take time off now to self isolate, or if you do become ill, you’re not hit so hard financially.
OK, but what is the government doing?
I don’t know. I don’t think they do either.
They’re not issuing clear instructions. They’re issuing half arsed advice. And constantly changing it.
They’re promising things that will help a few people, such as the mortgage holiday, but so far nothing for the majority of people who rent.
For people like me, individual workers, they’re not really offering a lot.
So what’s the plan?
Keep calm and carry on?
There’s no denying my mental health has taken a hit recently. I am worried, and with good reason.
Working from home is all well and good, but Buttercup and I work for the same company, and share a computer, so it’s not exactly easy for me to work 40 hours and her to work 12, in the same week. Throw into the mix that we have a 14 month old Lentil running around as a distraction, it will be nigh on impossible to get a meaningful level of work done.
If I catch it then I don’t know what I’ll do. Financially it will ruin us. Horrific as it is I think the best bet is for this country to do what Italy has. Go to lock down. Put measures in place to defer bill, and rent / mortgages.
I guess the only thing left to say at this point is I’ll update soon. I hope.