As the end of the year looms, the Coronavirus shows no sign of abating. The number of infections across the UK remains growing in many areas, and the death toll has also begun to creep back up. The most recent scientific studies state that it is likely that immunity to the disease lasts only 4 months, stoking concerns that herd immunity strategies are unviable. The pandemic has in so many ways changed our lives that for many it can be difficult to remember how things were before. Here are 5 ways the Coronavirus has impacted our lives in 2020:
- The young are facing bleak prospects: From the exam debacle to youth unemployment young people have been at the forefront of Covid disruption. It will also be the young facing the cost of repaying measures such as the furlough. Those in the 16 – 25-year-old bracket have been disproportionately impacted by a virus which primarily threatens the elderly. The latest figures now suggest that one in five young people who were on furlough have lost their jobs, and young workers are twice as likely to lose their jobs as older workers. Young people have also seen their earnings fall, with 58% reporting a cut to their incomes. This is perhaps unsurprising as young people make up a large proportion of the worst hit sectors such as hospitality. The rate of youth unemployment now stands at 13.4% well above the overall 4.1% UK average.
- Christmas could be very different this year: While government ministers state that it is too early to say what restrictions will be in place in December, it is almost certain Christmas will be different this year. Many have cancelled plans to see family, and some are opting for a virtual Yuletide with the popularity of plans for ‘a Zoom Christmas’ spiking. Some are still optimistic that Christmas could proceed as normal however, with the Liberal Democrats calling for all 4 governments of the UK to provide uniform rules on how Christmas restrictions are to be treated. Environmental Secretary George Eustice has responded that “controlling the Coronavirus is more important than Christmas” while the government has suggested it intends to break up large gatherings at Christmas.
- Cash could be facing extinction: The consumer group Which? has published numerous reports warning that the banning of cash in many shops, including those selling essential items is a dangerous trend for the most vulnerable such as the elderly and homeless who do not have access to the banking system. This problem is particularly acute when those in need are turned away from buying food and medicine because they do not have access to cash. Caroline Abrahams, head of Age Concern UK expressed alarm stating that “Many older people rely on cash and it’s really disappointing that even after venturing out to do their shopping, which for some feels like a significant risk at the moment, they may then be unable to buy their essential items.”
- Devolved governments have become more important than ever before: Your experience of the Coronavirus pandemic has heavily depended on where you are in the UK. Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England have all pursued varied strategies to contain the virus, with differing levels of lockdown severity and enforcement. While the UK is operating a 3-tier system, Scotland is operating a 5-tier system, and throughout the pandemic has generally been more cautious. Wales and Northern Ireland have opted for ‘circuit breakers’ while England has continued with its targeted local lockdowns.
- Businesses are changing the way they operate: From doorstep deliveries, to table service and increasing online shopping options firms have been forced to adapt the way they do business. Many of these changes are here to stay and are simply accelerations of pre-existing shopping trends. Businesses that have failed to adapt during the pandemic will soon fall behind. Accepting card payments has been a major shift, as the BBC recently reported that many business owners are now accepting card payments for the first time. It has also been reported that many businesses have also been surprised at the costs involved of accepting card payments; highlighting the fact that not all payment processors are made equal. To see our fantastic products and to enquire about our great rates, click here
These are just five of the ways that the Coronavirus has impacted our lives in ways that were unthinkable just a few short months ago. It is likely as we enter a second wave that the pandemic will continue to shape our lives, and present both opportunities and challenges to businesses and the public.