COVID-19, or Coronavirus as many of you know it, is quickly changing the way we live our lives. It doesn’t matter if that means you’re out panic buying toilet rolls or being forced into self-isolation to keep people safe.
Yesterday (Monday 16th March), saw the first death here in Wales, and countless many others in the rest of the UK before that, and yet, no serious action is being taken by either the Welsh Government or Westminster.
This virus has seen countless countries close their borders, and France has even gone above and beyond to help ease the financial burden on the people of their country, by abolishing rents and taxes until further notice.
The only advice we’ve received from Westminster so far is to stay at home if we’re ill, sing Happy Birthday as you wash your hands and stay away from pubs, restaurants and theatres.
This is advice that has been reiterated in parrot-fashion by First Minister, Mark Drakeford. And this is where my issue lies.
My girlfriend and myself have a three-year-old son. I work in a restaurant, and she works in a cinema. If, going by the advice of the UK and Welsh Governments, people avoid both of these establishments, this would see us as a couple both out of work. At present, our finances are not the most stable, and on top of that, we have our son to support.
In the event of our respective businesses being forced to close, we will be receiving no income, and it’s about time one of the Governments, be it the UK or Welsh, step in, just as France have done, and introduce measures to help the people like us.
What is even worse about this whole situation, our son’s nursery is currently still open. In the event that he manages to contract COVID-19 whilst there, we would be forced to self isolate. This is also a situation we as a family can not afford to be in.
We have already heard that some of the biggest hotel chains, pubs and restaurants might not survive for much longer due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. That would mean hundreds of thousands of people in the same situation as us.
Given the uncertainty coming from the government, many of these businesses will already be gearing up for huge cuts in staff over the next few months, just to be on the safe side.
In times of uncertainty, such as this, we need to be shown strong leadership, which we are currently not seeing from Boris Johnson or Mark Drakeford. It time for them both to act, because the number of deaths caused by their inaction will continue to grow.
If the UK Government is to wash its hands of us, then the Welsh Government should stop passing the buck to Westminster and take action itself.
Labour have promised to ‘stand up for Wales’ at election after election and this crisis will be the ultimate test of whether devolution is a shield to protect Wales’ citizens for the worst, or a doormat to walk over.
We need guarantees of income if we are forced out of work. We need temporary closures for schools to help keep our children safe. We need testing so that people know if they are carrying the virus or not. We need our leaders to start treating the people that they are elected to serve as actual humans, who are at risk of losing their lives if nothing is done soon.
It is already too late – please don’t leave it any longer.