MANY myths are developing around the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of these myths, such as claims that this is somehow a hoax, are extremely dangerous to us all. Others are highly irritating, or lead to the wrong policy decisions at a time when the stakes are so high that there is no room for error, or both.

It was difficult to conceive at the outset of this human tragedy that it would become politicised in the way it has done.

Also demoralising has been a lot of the nonsense you see on social media and online forums.

A fair amount of this has shone a light on a general lack of understanding of the situation, as well as on a depressing and at times alarming lack or absence of empathy in some quarters.

One of the early myths came from a senior source within the Conservative Government. Remember the claim, made with unseemly haste given the furlough scheme had not long been in place when the comment was made in early May, that people were becoming “addicted” to it? This claim is of course not only about as far from reality as you could get but also highly offensive. This is perhaps not surprising in itself, given it is certainly not the first time that utterances from the Conservative camp have met these two criteria.

This comment and too many other erroneous observations like it from various quarters seem to stem from a belief that people would prefer to be on furlough.

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Perhaps the first week or two provided an opportunity to relax for some people used to heavy workloads. And there would have been a view among many at that time that it would not be long before they were back at work. Whatever the case, you can be sure that, over the piece, the vast majority of furloughed workers would far rather have been undertaking the jobs they were choosing to do before the pandemic struck. And this remains the case.

The next myth that has developed is that many people on furlough are somehow lazy, and happy to be paid money for doing nothing. This is also highly offensive, and untrue.

The growing politicisation of this situation has also seen a view that those employees who are not on furlough are somehow skiving by working from home. Or that teachers’ understandable desire to ensure their return to their workplaces is safe somehow signals some reluctance to do their job, with too few people seemingly having recognised the huge efforts and long hours the vast bulk of the profession was putting in over lockdown.

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The evidence from various surveys is that people working from home have extended their hours very significantly, stretching their days both earlier and later. And that chimes with anecdotal evidence.

The truth of the matter has been that employers’ fears that staff would somehow take their foot off the pedal if working from home have proved unfounded. Quite the opposite has been the case, the evidence signals. Employers should reflect on this, and on whether, in this regard, they have been running themselves too autocratically, with a lack of trust in those who generate their profits.

We are now hearing a narrative, south of the Border, that it is time people headed back into the office, with a seeming subtext from some that workers are somehow shirking their employment duties if they do not.

Of course employers will be looking at how to get people back into offices safely, with some operations easier to run than others with remote working.

But all of this must be done with an eye on the public health situation. The more successful we can be in suppressing coronavirus, which has clearly not gone away in spite of all you might hear from some quarters that could suggest otherwise in terms of its tone, the faster things will be able to return safely to greater normality.

One thing that must be recognised, one truth amid the many myths, is that this is going to be a long haul. Some company bosses and right-leaning politicians at times give the impression they think the pandemic is largely behind us but their impatience or even boredom does not change the fact that this will be a protracted crisis.

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So patience and long-term vision are what are required here. All reopening moves and steps to return to how things operated previously must be looked at in the context of a continuing coronavirus pandemic and, to date, the absence of a vaccine. Many moves will be possible. Some will be possible but not sensible. Others will be possible and sensible.

The UK Government is presumably aware of the protracted nature of this pandemic. Sadly, however, such awareness has not fed through to policy.

And this brings us to another myth, one that is used to back up the UK Government’s decision to end the coronavirus job retention scheme in October, come what may. And one that is perilous for the economy, living standards, and society.

The degree of impatience of the Conservative Government to end its own scheme, one which has been hugely successful in helping ward off mass unemployment, is staggering. It could just have taken credit for what had been achieved.

The big myth here is that somehow all, or the vast bulk, of jobs being supported by the furlough scheme effectively now do not exist.

This is to suggest that these jobs, or the vast majority of them, have gone because the coronavirus crisis has already destroyed huge parts of the supply side of the economy.

Undoubtedly, some of the furloughed jobs will effectively no longer exist, but many of these will have been axed already by companies with cost-cutting, and sometimes also impatience and short attention spans, in their DNA.

But many, many of the furloughed jobs can still exist, certainly if the flagship support scheme is extended, because it is a simple matter of timing. So it is a question of whether the UK Government, and in some cases employers, will continue to allow these jobs to exist.

Take, for example, a tourist-related business in Scotland which lost the busiest part of its season and is making the best of what is left. By the end of October, the season will have wound down and the furlough support will have gone, so even the best of employers might have no choice but to axe the jobs of loyal workers.

However, imagine if the furlough scheme were extended to at least the spring for this sector. These jobs could be preserved, people would pay taxes on their income, and it would help protect the supply side in the hope of a ramping up of activity in the spring, by which time there may even be a vaccine.

There was a major appeal last week for the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme for the aviation sector. This is another sector in which, for many of the jobs, the furlough scheme or lack of it will determine whether this employment has a future or not.

Last week, more than 100 MPs wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask him to extend the job retention scheme until March 2021 for the aviation sector.

The MPs signed a letter, coordinated by Unite, which the trade union noted urges the chancellor to “help stop the crisis engulfing the sector and also to recognise the wider economic benefits of keeping workers active within the sector, not unemployed and collecting benefits”.

The timing of a recovery in the aviation sector is, like most things at the moment, highly uncertain.

However, it would surely be best to buy some time to save jobs across the economy. Germany has already done so by extending its short-time working scheme, which supports the majority of the lost incomes of employees even when their hours are cut to zero amid economic shocks, to two years. France is also taking a much longer-term view than the UK on this front.

Much is made of how the UK just cannot go on funding the furlough scheme.

However, life is about choices. For example, the Tories chose to slash corporation tax from 2010 onwards.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme might have caught the public’s attention and has provided a crucial short-term boost to the hard-pressed hospitality sector. However, the scheme has been expensive and the boost could prove fleeting, hence the call in some quarters for it to be extended. The case for this is understandable, in terms of sustaining the momentum, and should be considered.

However, in terms of the most effective support for the economy, extension of the furlough scheme undoubtedly holds the key. It can help ward off or at least mitigate mass unemployment, and support the demand side of the economy as well as revenues from income and corporation tax, while also taking away the need to pay benefits because the jobs are preserved. And it can also protect the supply side of the economy, and in that way maximise the potential for growth as recovery develops, hopefully alongside a vaccine.

In the same way that economic prosperity or otherwise will depend on making the right public health decisions patiently, and always with an eye on suppressing the Covid-19 coronavirus, short attention spans have no place when it comes to deciding policy measures needed to support the UK economy and its citizens.

There is a long way to go, and current UK Government policy, in terms of paltry measures which will be in place after October such as a £1,000 per employee job retention bonus, looks woefully inadequate in this regard.

There is still time to put things right on this front. But there appears to be a sorry lack of willingness to do so.