Personal responsibility or community responsibility as a person?by
Monday might be Freedom Day but opening the office without precautions while a pandemic rages would be a big mistake. Confused government messaging is putting us all at risk – WFH should be the accountant's response.
At the beginning of next week, as our leaders abdicate all responsibility for the populace, we going to have to get used to a new form of government PR.
We are all familiar with the standard version commonly known as “spin”. Rather confusingly, that kind of PR is now to be replaced by personal choice, given the latest buzz term, Personal Responsibility. Given the behaviour of so many football fans over the weekend, a more accurate acronym might have been PI for Personal Irresponsibility.
Readers will immediately have spotted the irony given that our Prime Minister is incapable of taking responsibility for wives or children, while his financial affairs appear to be in a pretty pickle.
Without wishing to sound overly critical, many of his fellow ministers are also sorely lacking when it comes to demonstrating the kind of responsibility that they might wish voters to follow as the pandemic spirals out of control yet again.
Therefore, instead of referring to this as the government’s new policy on Personal Responsibility, perhaps this writer would propose Community Responsibility As a Person given that the mildly blended acronym speaks to the subject so much more accurately.
It might have been a dream but this writer is sure that he heard Mr Johnson telling the nation that from 19 July the legal requirement to wear masks in public places will be replaced by a government instruction to do exactly the same. Readers can decide for themselves whether this Trumpian announcement has been borrowed from Lewis Carroll or Franz Kafka.
Despite so much bluster to the contrary, next week may not be the long-awaited moment when we and our staff members can safely return to the office.
The current rate of infection is over 200,000 per week and, according to the Health Secretary no less, is expected to reach 700,000 per week in August. Given that this government has always understated figures in connection with coronavirus, the worry is that the real figure might be in the terrifying region of 1 million or more.
On a relatively positive note, hospitalisations and deaths are not reaching levels seen earlier in the year or through most of 2020. However, both are rising at a rate not far short of 50% per week and those small acorns are potentially likely to grow into the kind of oak that damages the NHS even further and leaves thousands bereaved every week.
Anyone who watched Wimbledon or the football (and accompanying civil disobedience) will have seen packed crowds with very few masks in view. While these events were taking place outdoors, having thousands of people in close proximity, travelling together on busy transport services and going for a few drinks before and after sporting events will only have helped to seed the virus.
What all of this means is that come Terminator Day, aka Freedom Day, many of our most vulnerable staff members i.e. the young ones who have either not yet had a vaccination or only managed one very recent jab are going to be mixing freely with infected friends.
One step from there is the office, where they will then generously share the Delta variant or possibly even Lamda or another poisonous Greek letter with colleagues.
We will face yet another stark choice. Everyone would like to get back to normal, open up the office and welcome as many unmasked, crammed in colleagues as wish to return but that could literally be a fatal mistake at this point.
If we can continue the working from home mantra, regardless of any kind of heavily politicised but now watered-down spin from politicians, then we might all go even madder but at least we will not have the pandemic running rife and knocking out many of our key staff members simultaneously with the inevitable damage that will do to business.
It is painful to have to write yet another depressing article cautioning accountants to be as prudent as ever but the government’s confused policy announced on Monday really is a classic example of Community Responsibility As a Person.