CORONAVIRUS in Canterbury
We hope that you are keeping well and we wish you all the best for Easter! This is our sixth update on developments regarding Coronavirus. We begin with a short update on Covid19 cases here and then go on to five short pieces from Canterbury Society members and friends. (Many thanks to each of them.) And then we go onto a few items of news. We conclude with a longer piece written by our Chair (and forecasting specialist) Richard Scase, on how Kent will adapt and develop as we come out of coronavirus.
Cases in Kent
Kent had 755 recorded cases as of Sunday, 5 April. This is up nearly three times on the 253 cases we had a week before. In the same timeframe, Hampshire (heavily hit in the initial stages) doubled from 432 to 876. The South East overall rose 2.4 times (from 1,887 to 4,576 cases). The East Kent Hospitals Trust had its first Covid19-related death on 22 March, and has now reached 22.
View from Tyler Hill; by Ray Evison
It's quieter here than in the city, no streaming traffic and NO BUSES. But motorists seem to regard Tyler Hill as a race track. The absence of cars parked by the Tyler's Kiln pub seems to act directly on the accelerator of homeward-bound drivers and food delivery drivers …..Some electors have suggested yellow lines to stop parking! On planes, I saw one this morning — a huge jumbo-jet which I think had taken off from Heathrow and was empty. I knew it was empty because of the speed of its climb...probably repatriating Brits from S E Asia.
Across the pond; by Sandra Drew
It was only a few weeks ago that I was saying to my son in Minneapolis, ‘No, it’s not media hype and not like flu. It is serious and you must be careful.’ Within days the situation changed… Shortly after we went into lockdown so did they. Working from home and only going out to walk the dog and shop it seems very like the situation here. But my son and brother both live in Democratic states where the politicians acted swiftly once they realised the dangers, New York being a week or so ahead of Minnesota.
The hardest hit in our city; by Martin Vye
In our ‘Vision for Canterbury’ last year, the Canterbury Society put a special focus on poverty and homelessness. At this time we should remember that there are parts of this City suffering a disproportionate impact from the virus crisis. Here a higher proportion of our fellow-residents have underlying health conditions (cardiac, and respiratory especially); many only get intermittent work (with no ‘furlough’ terms) and will have even greater difficulty in paying the rent. Here many families rely on free school lunches for their children. Our thoughts are especially with them, and with all those helping them: doctors, nurses, paramedics, the Food Bank, community centres, teachers and council officers.
View of the Cathedral; by Anon
It seems strange that, as Canterbury commemorates the 850th anniversary of Beckett’s death, the Cathedral doors are locked and barred, just as they were when Beckett was incarcerated inside. This is rare occurrence in the long history of this beautiful pilgrim’s shrine. For anyone considering Easter, the Cathedral’s lights are out and the building sits shrouded in silence. As we glimpse the Cathedral on the skyline, we might remember Beckett insisted that the doors be unlocked. We can recall the immense flowering after its lockdown in 1170, and we can see this as a sign of hope. This too will pass.
Forecasting; by Richard Scase
My guess is that tempers will soon get bad, domestic abuse will start to increase as well as agreed divorces. Unless there is an easing of controls within the next couple of weeks social order will be challenged. Anger will erupt. I think the government is aware of this and it will need revised policies in a couple of weeks….The best way to catch the virus is going to supermarkets in their designated priority slots for the old, NHS workers and those with health conditions — those most likely to have the virus. My experience is early afternoon is the best time to go - quiet with youngish fit customers and shelves well stocked.
How are you handling it? In 100 words
We would like to include more experiences and insights from our members in future newsletters. If you would like to, please write 100 words and tell us your name. Please don't be shy. We hope that many people to contribute at some stage.
Canterbury Food Bank
Canterbury Society members and others continue to donate generously to the Food Bank. The emergency appeal has now raised £20,477 so far — over 70 per cent more than its initial goal of £12,000. For people donating tins in supermarkets, one of our members recommends fish: “A doctor on Twitter recently requested that tins of sardines, pilchards and salmon should be given, as low income diets suffer from lack of vitamins found in oily fish. Sardines are cheap to give — at 55p a tin, pilchards are slightly more expensive, but they make a substantial meal on toast or on a baked potato.
Easter celebrations: Church of England, Catholic and Buddhist
A resident writes: People all over the world have been weaving small crosses from palms and things found in the garden or treasured bits of old paper (with much guidance on the web). Canterbury Cathedral has put its services online, including services from the Dean’s garden (with a chorus of birds in the background). The Roman Catholic Church is rich in its offers with a website called ChurchServices TV where parishes and, in particular, monastic communities invite us to join them live in their services running up to Easter for words to reflect on, sacraments, consolation, some beautiful Gregorian chant and, in general kindness, and prayer. We can tune into silent chapels and join their contemplation. In the same way we can share in Eastern silent practice by logging on to, among many others, the Being-without-self website, linked to a meditation group in Canterbury, where Buddhists are sitting in silence gathered together across the world in compassionate solidarity, proving there are no boundaries between us.
Volunteers and the Council
Over a 1,000 volunteers had registered with Canterbury City Council by last Thursday, April 2. They will help keep supplies and help going to those people deemed particularly vulnerable. After this “overwhelming response” to its requests for help, CCC has decided to close the call for now (though it will reopen, if needs be). It says: “To everyone who has got in touch to offer their time, we are eternally grateful.” CCC’s coronavirus appeal has raised £8,399 from nearly 200 people.
BID and business
Local businesses are, obviously, having a hard time: with “many…struggling to stay afloat and…very worried about accessing financial support as soon as possible”, according to BID (the Business Improvement District in Canterbury). BIS is running a series of seminars covering financial, legal, marketing and digital media issues.
The Kent Community Foundation has opened a ‘Coronavirus Emergency Fund’. Grants of up to £10,000 are being made to “constituted community groups e.g. charities/CICs, with an average annual income of less than £200,000* and who are supporting the most vulnerable people at this time”.
How can Kent bounce back from the coronavirus? By Richard Scase
The coronavirus is not a temporary event. Of course, there will be antidotes that scientists will discover. But there will be long -term effects of this pandemic that will permanently change the ways we live and work. Out of these will come new personal, career and business opportunities
Twenty-years ago I was commissioned by the Cabinet Office to write a vision for the UK in year 2010. I foresaw a future economy, health service and education system driven by the then emerging internet and on-line services.
The internet has brought great changes to the ways we live and work. What the coronavirus crisis is doing is bringing about a permanent revolution, based upon what the internet started. Here are some examples.
For years the internet has allowed there to be remote, flexible and home working. There has been some take-up but not so much as there should have been. Why Not? Because too many of our bosses have queried if they can trust us to work in this much more independent, self-managed way.
The outcome is they insist we have expensive commutes from towns and villages in Kent into London offices. There they can watch us log-on and work on our projects just as we can easily do at home.
The coronavirus crisis has imposed a great experiment upon our employers. It has forced them to allow their employees to work from home. Out of this they will see that workers can be just as productive as working in expensive premises in London and other cities. When this crisis is over, work patterns are unlikely to be the same again.
There is huge potential for working from home in the public sector, both at national and local government levels. If we want better services at lower cost and with no hype in taxes this is the only way forward.
From employees’ point-of- view working from home and other forms of remote working allows them to make savings on their present daily commutes. Also, less crowded trains and busy motorways.
The over-stretched NHS wants to offer improved services through digitalisation. The barrier is mainly patient resistance. The present crisis is forcing people to experiment with a more online NHS. This will break down traditional patient thinking and allow the system to do what it wants to do. To provide a more cost effective and even more patient- focused service
Higher education is big business in Kent, both as employers as well as contributors to the local economy. The teaching and study of arts subjects has not fundamentally changed for centuries. Today, students still go to lecture theatres and listen to their professors as they did in the past. The only change is that lecture notes are now also downloaded. Lecturers with their notes conveyed in large lecture theatres no longer have a monopoly on scholarship.
The coronavirus has forced many universities to send students home and to study online. This will lead them to question the need to spend high fees on residential full-time study. Universities will be compelled to change the balance of their online/offline teaching offer.
The retail sector has already been hard hit by the impact of the internet. But this has mainly affected major national retailers Our high streets are changing and will become unrecognizable over the years to come. The coronavirus is forcing smaller businesses to embrace the new online technologies in their marketing, selling and procurement strategies. Until now, too many have had their heads in the sand.
During the present crisis, many shoppers for the first time have discovered the convenience of online shopping. Some of these will return to their old ways but the majority will not. The big supermarkets will decline as will shopping malls and shopping centres.
Even pubs will change. With their forced closures many will become online deliverers of food and drinks. Some of them, quick of the mark, are already offering this service.
Face-to- face trading in small specialist, personal services stores will be the dominant feature of our high streets in the future. Their markets, with tough competitors and demanding customers, will force them to provide improved sales delivery. They will be forced to invest in staff training, something that so many small traders are reluctant to do.
For ‘Leavers’- those that voted to quit the EU- the coronavirus is a further nail in the coffin of the integrated European project. National borders across Europe are being shut down. It is doubtful the free movement of goods and services will return to pre-coronavirus levels. Migration started pressures for moves in this direction. The present crisis will consolidate the trend.
Businesses in Kent could benefit as they replace European supply chains for the purchase of products with those domestically provided. Reliability of delivery services, coupled with digitalisation of their inventory processes, will lead to the adoption of new business models especially in the small business sectors.
The internet introduced many changes in our working, business and personal lives. It was a technological innovation that ‘nudged’ us online. The coronavirus, through the direct threat of illness and government laws, is forcing us instead of ‘nudging’ us to change our habits of a lifetime.
It is even forcing us to respect the needs of our elders- something that has long been neglected in our society. In this there is the return of voluntary, community and unpaid mutual aid.
The closure of bars, pubs and restaurants may be devastating for the businesses and workers in the hospitality sector, but it is compelling us to be more home-centred and family-focussed.
A legacy of the coronavirus pandemic may mark the end of the consumer society with its emphasis on ‘me’ ‘me’ and even more ‘me’. It could be it will force us to re-think our values and to become more caring and altruistic to others. Even the government’s offer to underwrite up to 80 percent of earnings for workers for a three-month period if they are retained in their jobs suggest a more caring approach. All of which means every cloud has a silver lining, however small.