I’m sure like us the first weekend (14/15 March) for most people was spent glued to the television news channels, where events were unfolding fast. We learned that from Monday 16th, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be giving daily updates which we now eagerly await. As at 16th March, the Department of Health was reporting 1534 positive tests and 36 deaths in the UK, all over 60 with underlying health conditions.
On Sunday I had started to get a sort throat and lose my voice, and although not showing any other COVID-19 symptoms I had to self-isolate. This left Jim and Jamie to work together on an action plan for the business. One of the most important things was to keep the staff updated as much as possible whilst trying not to worry them. We were acutely aware that the vast majority of our team had mortgages or rent to pay, some with families to provide for and of course everyone needs to be fed and watered.
A skeleton staff was identified, the vulnerable employees were set up for home working, and by mid-week there were just a handful of people coming into the office on a daily basis. We had three magazines to finish and get over to the printers and the team worked their socks off to deliver, for that we are truly grateful. Our HR manager was working around the clock to help us put the packages into place to make sure our people are protected and remunerated in line with government guidelines. The words furlough, Splashtop and Zoom are all new and What’s App has been a constant line of communication for the collective staff.
Sadly the death toll by the end of the week had risen to 177 – an average of 35 per day over the previous four days which was extremely sobering.
On the evening of Friday 20th March we eagerly awaited Rishi Sunak’s address to let us know what he would be doing to help businesses – I have to tell you I shed a few grateful and emotional tears as I felt the government were truly offering help – even though there would be many more questions regarding remuneration I definitely slept a little sounder that night.
At this point I felt grateful and that the UK had elected the right person and his team to lead us through this crisis – and I quote Rishi Sunak 20/3/20: “We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort – and we stood together”.