Government loans will have to be paid back at some point

Shoppers and tourists are returning

Sidmouth shopkeepers continue to fight the effects of Covid on their businesses - Credit: Alex Walton

For the second time in as many years, we ask, to mask or not to mask?

Whilst the lamented debate over the town’s roadworks have taken up plenty of space recently, the wearing of masks is set to rumble on a little further and will no doubt be debated long after our shiny new road surfaces are being driven on.

As restrictions were lifted on the wearing of masks in shops last week many are still taking the option to continue to wear them and although the threat of infection must be considerably less than it was last year erring on the side of caution is a sensible option.

The Omicron variant sent fear through the population as it raged through the country prior to Christmas and slammed the brakes on trade, affecting a variety of business sectors just when they thought they were getting back on their feet again. However, despite the colossal increase in infection rates it now appears to be receding and if the figures are to be believed around ninety per cent of those hospitalised were not jabbed, so it does appear that the vaccine has done its job whatever your views on vaccination.

I suspect far more people have had Omicron and not even known. Subject to another variant rearing its ugly head this time next year we could be able to turn the heating back on if the bills haven’t gone through the roof.

As far as business is concerned there appears to be a host of government-backed loans available in all manner of guises but whichever way you look at it as an honourable businessperson, it has to be paid back no matter how much it is. Obviously, you can take as much as you can and then a few months later wind the company up and start again but is that morally acceptable?

Being in business is about accountability and many people who have been successful in any way can sometimes feel as though it’s their right to be so and are quick to blame intervening factors that have affected their business rather than accept that sometimes they have to fight on to come through the current times, after all, whichever way you look at it, the buck stops with you.