18 March 2020, The Tablet

Our only option is to act together

Coronavirus pandemic


As the coronavirus pandemic develops, it is increasingly clear that the human race has rarely faced a challenge on this scale. It is not just about co-ordinating resources to tackle a disease that can cut great swathes through the population, especially its most vulnerable members. To save as many as possible by slowing or halting the spread of the virus, the normal functioning of society will have to be radically curtailed as rarely seen before, even in wartime.

This will have vast consequences. In state after state, governments are intervening to take charge of the commanding heights of the economy. They are taking unprecedented measures, such as guaranteeing a reasonable level of income for every citizen and offering subsidies to businesses that would otherwise go under. Across the world, hotels, shops, restaurants, factories, buses, railways and airports have been brought to a standstill. Without government support these companies will face bankruptcy, and in due course so will their employees. Even if mothballed for the duration of the present crisis, all those businesses and services must be preserved. They are the economic and social capital of the nation.

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