In trying to catch up on my emails before going to bed – late as always – I started reading the lead article in The New York Times – Opinion Today – which, as it is probably pay-walled you might not be able to read here.
I had one of those light bulb moments!
The trigger was the following excerpt:-
“The emerging protocols for reopening are “effectively a death sentence” for the two bar-restaurants he co-owns in Brooklyn, writes Toby Cecchini . . . the change he says would be most important is one that, it seems to me, would benefit everyone: opening space on sidewalks and streets for restaurants to expand their seating and serve enough people — at a safe distance — to stay in business.”
Living in the tropics, as I have the good fortune to do, there are plenty of cafes and even restaurants which have outdoor eating areas. Colder climates would have fewer – but this need not be.
We have the technology!
We have allowed our decision makers to deny us many of the freedoms we need, and in the current social distancing situation, we are forcing restaurants and cafes out of business quite needlessly.
We have also become slaves to the motor car, so that, even when you do have a chance for al fresco dining, it is often spoiled by having our senses assailed by exhaust fumes.
Malls can be used to exclude vehicular traffic and allow outdoor activities, but in cold or otherwise inclement weather, they are not really feasible if they are fully open to the elements..
So – cover them over, but with plenty of solar panels above to ensure lighting below during the day! And preferably with the opportunity, when weather allows, to have unadulterated fresh air circulating rather than constant air conditioning.
We also need more parks in cities where, again, cafes could prosper if appropriately located.
The Coalition government is currently in cahoots with the gas lobby, and you are more trusting than am I, if you believe that this is just a bridging phase until renewable energy and battery storage make use of gas redundant.
We cannot work on the basis of a ‘return to normal’ because progress does not normally accommodate going backwards – except in one regard.
We can go back to relying less on technology to do nearly everything for us, while using it more effectively and efficiently when and where appropriate..
Don’t forget, there are many people for whom the government has made no sufficient provision to ride out the COVID-19 crisis and who will, therefore, have no job to go back to anyway!
One very large group that the government is totally neglecting are our artists, musicians, sculptors, actors, comedians and their back up cohort – all of whom can be used very effectively online or presented on large screen TV.
The ABC has a current theme song which is being produced in a variety of ways. A collage of ever-changing individual artists, in multiple locations, singing in harmony, in language (how refreshing!) or in English or backing an Auslan performance of “We are one, we are many – we are Australian!”.
If we are to minimise the damage being done by the sudden close-down of ‘normal’ business activities, and recover with fewest scars, we need to use the time imaginatively and innovatively.
Dealing with transport, including airplanes, is a whole other issue which needs to be faced as soon as possible, in conjunction with reducing use of fossil fuels as much and as soon as possible.
We have an unintended head-start in reducing emissions because of the coronavirus. Let’s build on that.
Many of those out of regular work could be used right now in assisting with ideas and construction. And where will the homeless go who are currently, and temporarily housed in otherwise vacant hotel rooms?
As to costs, well – after all – the government was prepared to commit $60 billion more than it finds it has done, so money is no problem!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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