Comment - The power to beat the virus is in our hands and it’s free

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Years ago, at the height of U2’s success, there was a joke that on stage one night lead singer Bono started a slow handclap saying, ‘with every clap, a child in Africa dies’.

And someone from the audience shouted: ‘Well stop clapping then’.

It came to mind this week when a Chamber chief said words to the effect of ‘every time you break the rules a business dies’.

Only this is no joke.

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The Octopus at The Play Arena - an estimated 1m children have visited the venue, which now faces closureThe Octopus at The Play Arena - an estimated 1m children have visited the venue, which now faces closure
The Octopus at The Play Arena - an estimated 1m children have visited the venue, which now faces closure

The government is spending billions on ineffective measures to combat the virus, when avoiding it in the first place is free.

Test and Trace cost £12bn but only 67 per cent of ‘close contacts’ of those who test positive are being traced within 24 hours. That’s an awful lot of potential carriers carrying on as normal. And they are among only 16m who downloaded the app. There are 67m people in this country.

Three-quarters of all tests miss the government target of 24 hours between booking and result, so people are stuck at home waiting for results.

And only a fifth self-isolate properly, while the rest go out with potentially terrible consequences.

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The Star Business Editor David Walsh.The Star Business Editor David Walsh.
The Star Business Editor David Walsh.

Chamber president Matt Jackson this week wrote an open letter to MPs urging them to sort out test and trace because of the harm it is doing to business.

But all this activity and eye watering expense - described as a ‘set of national failures’ by Chamber director Alexis Krachai - only seek to tackle the virus.

Avoiding it is far better - and that’s down to us.

More than six months into the pandemic, everything we now do is covered by restrictions, more so since Sheffield entered ‘high alert’ level on Wednesday.

From buying a house to getting married, and from going to church to buying a beer. Their sheer volume and ubiquity is staggering.

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But they are designed to keep us safe while going about our lives and supporting local businesses.

Sitting in a pub with your household is not risky if you follow the rules. Nor is taking your kids to The Play Arena soft play centre which has cut capacity from 720 to 150 to give everyone space.

But staying at home all day every day with children who aren’t having fun comes with risks of its own.

Some 80 per cent of soft play centres have shut for good, according to The Play Arena boss Sipra Deb. And once they’re gone they’re gone, taking the jobs with them. It’s a truly apocalyptic scenario that’s playing out across much of the hospitality sector.

We have the power to do something and it costs nothing. Stick to the rules like your life, your job and your family’s lives and jobs, depend on it.