From the Terraces: We all have to do our bit to beat coronavirus

The latest instalment of Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s weekly fan column.

Saturday, 28th March 2020, 7:13 am
Updated Saturday, 28th March 2020, 7:16 am
All by himself: Harrogate Town midfielder Jack Emmett has been training on his own on The Stray. Picture: Matt Kirkham

It’s only been a week since I last sat down to pen this column but, in terms of developments out in the country, it feels like an eternity.

Following the prime minister’s statement on Monday night, the only valid reasons to be leaving home are to shop for basic necessities, for one form of exercise a day, for medical need or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, and to travel to and from work, but only where it is absolutely necessary.

Yet, as I write on day one of the lockdown, I can still see builders out working on local people’s homes, work that just isn’t essential at this point in time.

Granted, this may change as the lockdown kicks in properly and the government further clarifies its advice as to what work is essential, but it’s up to us all to take the initiative and stay at home now.

I’m lucky in that I’ve been working from home for two weeks anyway, and my employer has shut down offices and construction projects for the time being. I know this is easier said than done, but it really is a matter of life and death.

It doesn’t help that HS2 and Hinkley Point construction projects were announced as continuing even into lockdown. The government needs to act to close these projects down, so as to set the example for everyone else.

Employers may say that best working practices can be adopted on site to put in place social distancing but, working on a construction site, I know this to be almost impossible.

You then have to consider the footprint of each worker.

Travelling to site invariably involves close contact in vans or on public transport, there may be materials to pick up and petrol stations to visit.

In the case of the 1,500 workers at Hinkley Point, many live in temporary shared accommodation close to the site, are bought in together in shifts of 600 on buses and then return to their families in different parts of the country at the weekend.

This project, and all others like it, should be shut down now.

With regards to leaving home for basic necessities, we all have our part to play here. The less we can shop, the better.

This is the most dangerous time, as infection rates spiral rapidly, due to the spread of the virus amongst people pre-lockdown. Everything may seem normal out there, but you don’t need to be showing symptoms of the virus to spread it.

To this end, here are a few practical tips we’ve been employing in this household, especially bearing in mind that supermarkets have been overcrowded and are now only just starting to bring in place social distancing restrictions.

Look in your cupboards and freezers and start eating the things you’ve had kicking around for ages. Don’t waste food. Seek out a local company, in need of the business, offering a delivery service.

If you do need to go out to buy food, send one person only. Stick to the small local, less-crowded shop if possible, they will appreciate your custom.

Before going out, check if you can pick up essentials for someone else in the same trip, for example a vulnerable neighbour.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The key message is, the more you can avoid going out at this point in time, the better.

Now, before I start sounding too pious and holier-than-thou, let me tell you a little story regarding my family’s weekend.

Last Saturday, before the lockdown kicked in, we decided to take advantage of the kind offer from Fountains Abbey to open free of charge to enable people to get some fresh air.

We, like many others, felt it was probably one of the last chances for a while to get out and about, the weather was nice and hell, it was free.

We were fully intending to drive there as a family unit, stay at a safe social distance and walk the dog. When we got there the car park was rammed, it was busier than I’ve ever seen it before.

We promptly turned round and left, finding a small empty wood in Nidderdale to walk the dog instead.

The next day, Fountains Abbey made the sensible decision to close its gates.

I’d had thoughts of driving out to Almscliffe Crag on the Sunday, reasoning I could social distance and also because I love it.

After the Fountains Abbey experience, I made the decision to leave the car on the drive for the foreseeable future and stay local to walk the dog.

We’ve all got to be disciplined and start to set the example going forward if we’re to beat this virus, and Fountains Abbey was my real road to Damascus moment.

While multi-tasking isn’t my strong point, Molly and I set off for the Stray on Monday evening to walk the dog, armed with a football for exercise, veering into the road to social distance from the occasional person on the way.

We set up goal posts on the Stray whilst the dog kept her distance. After a while, Molly stopped playing and pointed.

“Dad, is that Jack Emmett over there?” she exclaimed in a loud whisper.

I looked over to where she was pointing, and there was Jack, running up and down the Stray, training in isolation.

As he ran within a few metres of our goal, I wished him encouragement from a social distance, but he continued straight past, headphones in ears.

In hindsight, he was probably avoiding the weirdos staring at him.

Under normal circumstances, it would have been great for him to have taken a shot at Molly in goal but, then again, under normal circumstances he’d have been training with the squad at Wetherby Road.

However, I can reveal to Simon Weaver that Jack is taking his homeworking seriously.