Comment: We all have a role to play in helping to stop spread, including shops

We need shops that sell food to stay open but we need them to take effective measures to help minimise risk of coronavirus infection

THE coming weeks will reveal how high a cost we must pay for the British government’s poor judgment on coronavirus and some of our own ministers’ unquestioning adherence thereto.

Dithering in place of decision, hubris instead of action, theoretical mathematics given more credence than the highly visible catastrophe unfolding in Italy and the clear, consistent warnings of many scientists, frontline medics and health officials.

At least this week the penny dropped. Perhaps scenes of crowded public spaces made it belatedly dawn on Boris Johnson and his advisors that people needed the gravity of the situation spelled out to them; that the public need clear guidance and direction – leadership, in a word.

At a local level it is to be hoped that, in similar vein, the owners of the businesses that remain open demonstrate more responsibility than many have done in the two weeks that have already been squandered in what should have been a race to minimise Covid-19’s effects.

As Irish people living abroad attest elsewhere in today's Irish News, strict measures are in place even regarding grocery shopping elsewhere. In many shops in the Republic measures to separate customers and protect cashiers had already been put in place while supermarkets north of the border – among them outlets of highly profitable businesses – last week carried on as normal.

Even since Mr Johnson’s sweeping restrictions, some shops and petrol stations in the north making little or no effort to protect and segregate customers or staff remain open. This is just not good enough; we all have a role to play and we must all be creative and community-spirited, for the sake of our loved ones and society.

Shops selling food, which we need to stay open, should take all possible steps to minimise infection risk; if they don’t do so voluntarily, they must be forced to.

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