Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Guest column by Council Leader Dave Stewart

2 min read
Council Leader Dave Stewart sets out his views about how we need to live with Covid-19 in a guest column for the IW Observer

Living with Covid-19 sounds a dramatic ambition – but recent events point to it being our new normal. We all recall the virus arriving in March with ‘lockdown’ introduced. Big changes quickly followed, including shielding the vulnerable, developing community hubs and finding new ways of going about our daily lives.

On the Island we watched amazed as the virus tore across our nation and we watched the number of cases and sadly, deaths escalate across Europe. As Council Leader I was briefed on the predicted number of infections and related deaths here. It was difficult to absorb the reality, but I knew that keeping our community safe would become the absolute priority of the Council.

Financially, we had built up reserves earmarked for economic development, which we re-focussed to deal with Covid. Fortunately, the government quickly introduced grants and loans, with the council at the forefront of getting funds to businesses enabling them to continue and build survival plans.

But that’s looking back – now I’m looking forward.

Recent announcements, including the Rule of Six and restrictions introduced this week, make it clear we will be living with Covid for the foreseeable future, probably at least six months, taking us to March 2021. So, what does that mean?

For a start we have a clear set of rules to follow until told otherwise, including how we meet with family and friends. Christmas is not far away, so we should make plans now, including – where the turkey is to be carved! Someone described March 2021 as the new Christmas, but nothing is certain. Even if the possibility of a vaccine by the end of the year comes to pass – distribution and acceptance will take time. That’s why I believe we must find a way of living with Covid-19.

On the Island we have had relatively few cases, probably thanks to our lifestyles and the unique environment in which we live. Many may be depressed and disappointed by the latest turn of events – but I say – let’s keep a positive mindset and adjust so we can still enjoy a good quality of life here in the natural beauty of our Island.

Personally, I will reflect on finding a sustainable way forward and as Council Leader I will be doing all I can to keep everyone safe and supported. I urge you to think about how you can adjust your life plans and ‘live with Covid’, whilst still enjoying the life you’ve built up with your family, friends and work colleagues.

The Isle of Wight remains an inspiring place to grow up, live, work and visit – let’s work together to keep it that way.