One of the perils of writing a column is that they can very quickly go out of date as events unfold.
And as I sit writing this from my home office (sofa in my living room) I have a certain sense of foreboding that once the Prime Minister sets out his plan for how people will return to work at some point over the next month or so then it will be virtually impossible to predict how that will pan out.
Why? Well, we’re not only dealing with a virus that has no vaccine, which is providing the greatest scientific minds with their biggest ever challenge, but we also have to think about the human reaction to coming out of lockdown.
At the start of this crisis the consensus was that this would blow over and then we’d all get back in our cars or on the bus and turn up for work on the first available day with not many questions asked.
But the longer it has gone on and – no doubt helped by beautiful weather during the late spring and early summer – many of us are now comfortable working from home and not looking forward to being stuck in traffic for an hour on our commute.
Millions have been furloughed and, while worried about what jobs they will return to, have maybe been enjoying a break from the daily grind.
There are also the psychological effects. Some will be totally terrified to step foot into a new environment with people who they have no idea where they’ve been or who they have been with.
This will pose a real challenge for managers and business owners who, while accepting that work can be done from home, yearn for the day when they can get their team all back together.
The picture I am painting is very office focused. There are challenges in setting offices up for post-lockdown and I’m sure the methods of that will dominate the news for weeks to come.
Of a greater challenge will be how shops, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, markets and the like set up to deal with customers.
On a recent trip to a high street chemist in the city centre only two people were allowed in at a time. That’s fine when we were locked down, but how quickly will they be able create an environment that allows more people in without them feeling unsafe?
Very quickly our streets will fill up. We have probably all forgot just how many people used to cram into shops and bars.
If there are still strict restrictions, then it’s going to be difficult for businesses to open sustainably. I don’t really know anyone who enjoys queuing and I think the novelty of it will soon wear off if proof can’t be shown that it is making any difference.
People will just find other things to do.
But who knows how things will unfold? We’re still at the stage where no one knows whether the course of action the government has taken is right or wrong.
No one can predict with any certainty whether there will be a second wave. And no one can say for sure whether it will return again next winter with any severity.
All we can do is take it day to day and look after the people closest to us.