Getting Back to Work – Mixed Messages and Lack of Strategy
As we are all recovering from the shellshock of the past two weeks and preparing for more shellshock in the next two weeks, out of the darkness comes the British Government, which is planning this week to launch a media ‘blitz’ (as they are describing it) encouraging companies and employees to return to work in the towns and cities across the UK.
The UK campaign is seeking to help reignite areas of the hospitality sector, such as cafes and restaurants, which have been devastated by a lack of office workers coming in for lunch and dinner.
However, as with here in Ireland, the UK Government has been facing its own struggles with mixed messaging. Lucy Powell, the Shadow Business Minister, has said; ‘’There are really conflicting messages, which is the worst of all worlds.’’
While the boss of the British Chambers of Commerce has said the UK’s Ministers should focus on giving employers and staff the confidence to return to the office, the UK Government is refusing to set out targets for staff to return to the workplace, either public or private, on the grounds that it is a matter for employers and their staff.
At the same time, they are encouraging workers to not use public transport when possible and the public health guidance is to return to the office only if it is safe to do so.
The UK Government’s media campaign seeks to encourage people to go back to their workplace at a time of rising number of job losses at service businesses in the city centres that are reeling from a lack of customers. It also comes as case numbers are rising and the threat of a full-blown second wave looms large.
Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor want more employees to return to their offices, as they are fearful of long term and permanent damage to cities across the UK.
This week it is becoming clear what the UK’s strategy in tackling Covid-19 is going to be, and perhaps this will be the end to the mixed messaging. Their Government has already been on the offensive in encouraging people to go to restaurants with their ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign. Now it is full steam ahead on encouraging people to get back to work.
It is now clear that the UK Government’s strategy is living with the virus and getting back to normal to protect the economy and jobs. At least this is a clear strategy.
Back home in Ireland, the Government does not seem to have an objective in mind for tackling the virus. Is the plan to get to zero cases or is it to keep case numbers at a manageable level?
As matters stand, there are still huge swathes of our economy closed, jobs being lost and no direction or clarity on where we are going.