Part of “Things Will Never Be The Same Again” may well be to do with social distancing in the UK workplace and elsewhere.
Even if this present virus is eventually conquered, we’ll have to be far better prepared for a Covid-20 or other versions, or indeed different types of pandemic. We’ll need – and, surely, want – to have regulations and procedures on standby to be implemented and checked the very minute we get a whiff of anything that might develop into a scourge similar to this horrific plague.
On the other hand, if it turns out that Covid-19 itself remains a long-term, roaming threat to every nook and cranny of our community at work and play, government will need to institute more specialised science-based standards and ongoing controls for every setting. A new inspectorate, the Office for Standards in Social Distancing, should be set up backed by legal powers, with a core mission to see that the population – every single one of us – is being protected both from the virus and from any tendency to forget or willingly flout rules on social distancing and related safety measures.
This is much more than a Health and Safety at Work issue. We’re reassured to see our schools inspected by Ofsted to check on standards of education. We want the best standards in telecommunications and power. Each of these organisations is a focus for criticisms, investigation, ongoing development, reports and confidence-building. Standards in terms of social distancing and other required life-saving procedures for the whole population, in all settings of the new normal, should be inspected and reported on by a specially-trained executive responsible to Parliament. They’re even more important than electricity prices.
Of course, I’m doubtful that such a sensible move will make it to the top of the pile of government priorities any time soon, especially ahead of the need to answer short-term concerns over press headlines.
What I’ve dubbed (do excuse the tongue-in-cheek moniker) OfSod would, in my opinion, pay rich rewards longer term. But, regrettably, longer term is the era in which I’d expect it finally to be implemented.