Commons Sense: Adam Afriyie says we've managed to 'miss retail ghost towns MPs feared'

Adam Afriyie

Commons Sense: Adam Afriyie says we've managed to 'miss retail ghost towns MPs feared'

Residents enjoy the sunshine in Peascod Street (Photo ref: 132781)

Shops reopened this week and I have been pleasantly surprised at how willing Windsor constituents have been to return to their favourite local stores.

Thankfully, the worry that customers might stay away from non-essential stores due to Coronavirus fears, have been misplaced.

Clearly we are nowhere near the level of foot traffic prior to the pandemic, but we have managed to avoid the retail ghost towns that many MPs and ministers feared.

People may understandably question why we should risk reopening stores at all. After all what’s a few stores reopening worth when public health is at stake?

It was absolutely right that 12 weeks ago bold action was taken to flatten the curve. Public health had to be put before the economy.

Yet, as we continue to move further away from the peak of the pandemic our policy objectives must become more nuanced and multifaceted.

Take the economy, for example. If we do not allow it to re-start as soon as is feasibly possible, then we risk causing more unintentional crises through unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and all the other secondary issues which stem from them.

Taxes would not be collected and the all public services, including the NHS, would be starved of cash causing a massive spike in deaths and other major public health issues.

Ministers don’t have an easy task in front of them, but they are working flat out to strike a balance between fighting the current crisis and preventing new unintentional crises from emerging for the long term.

The reopening of stores this week is therefore just as much about protecting people’s livelihoods as it is about preserving out country’s economy and prosperity, and all the health educational, and social benefits which come with that.

When I ventured to the shops this week, I felt that I was doing my bit for jobs, livelihoods and public services. Perhaps, backing good local businesses is the most virtuous thing we can do for our community and our country in the weeks and months ahead.

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