And so it begins. Relaxation of the lockdown is starting and pubs and cafes can reopen. This is not without strict rules and will require patience on both sides. You will have to prebook a table, or wait in a socially distanced line outside for a table to come free, assuming they are not booked all day! Table service will be the norm and it is all going to seem very strange indeed.

Non-essential shops will start to reopen cautiously and again, social distancing will still have to be respected. I suspect I will be seeing more people in masks in the coming weeks; those with any sense anyway in close proximity, such as shops. Masks are already mandatory on public transport of course but there is no reason not to wear them to protect yourself and others when you are looking round a shop.

Our local shops are, on the whole, long and narrow and it is not going to be easy to socially distance within their walls. All of us are going to have to have patience and be aware that everyone is trying to get back to normal, whatever that is. Shop owners need to reopen and get their businesses running again but will, I suspect, be nervous about potential consequences. We all have a duty to watch out for each other and help our businesses get back on their feet. We need to adhere strictly to whatever rules a business lays down. It is in their interest to let us shop but they are at risk for doing so and should be applauded for trying to make the experience safe for all.

During the lockdown, the vast majority of people have been polite and sensible, thankful for whatever services they could get. Some have been less than patient and sadly a small minority have been downright rude and aggressive. This is bound to happen in any community and I can imagine that the same will happen as non-essential businesses, pubs and cafes open. Pubs especially are at risk as they bring in people from outside the village. Some businesses are not opening until 6th July, not wanting to open at a weekend and risk a potential rush of people; very sensible.

However, Covid-19 has not gone away. Just look at Leicester. They are having to close down again because a lot of people did not take it seriously. Yes, the risk is smaller than it was but we need to stay vigilant. It is so easy to forget just what a killer this virus is and we have not seen the last of it. It may never go away and it may be we just learn to live with it as we do for Flu and the common cold. We need to respect other people’s views and space.

So here is to the New Normal. It’s going to be awkward and strange, it will be frustrating and complex. Some people are likening it to Independence Day, a nod to the date. Independence Day it is not. It is a step in the right direction but if we do not tread carefully, then all the pain of the last few months will have been in vain.

So let’s be nice to each other. Let us all treat each other with respect and courtesy. When we are handed a meal or a drink by someone in gloves and mask, let us thank them for being there for us, for risking themselves to allow us to edge closer to normality. A smile and a murmur of thanks goes such a long way to making people feel they are achieving something.

I strongly believe that we will all emerge from this better people, with a heightened feeling of community and a better understanding of our place in it.

Ian Maude

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