A POST pandemic party, how the planned online sales tax will hurt those with a disability and embracing the work from home phenomenon were the issues debated by columnists in the newspapers.

The Scotsman

Bill Jamieson said there are two theories on what now lies ahead for us as lockdown eases further.

“One is that, before long, we will burst through in a great escape from the long fractious months of Covid alarm and confinement,” he said. “All the fear that has come with lockdown, isolation, restrictions, hassle and inconvenience will give way to a post-pandemic boom – a party like no other. It will be the Roaring Twenties a hundred years on.”

The other, far more sobering - possibly more realistic - is more travel restrictions, lockdown in ‘fits and bursts’, as we wrestle with prospect of a second wave.

He endured a trip to the shops which should have taken 30 minutes but, with all the queuing, took 90.

“This is killing me – and it is killing retail as we know it – along with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses,” he said. “Talk of a massive surge back into towns and city centres has given way to second thoughts – not just ‘can we endure it?’ but ‘dare we risk it?’.”

He told how he took what he thought was a broken laptop keyboard to an electrical retailers and said the assistant took one look at it and turned it on its side and tapped.

“ Out tumbled months of accumulated detritus – toast crumbs, tobacco strands, cake remains, pencil shavings and dandruff. I was utterly humiliated,” he said.

His anecdote was shared to illustrate the point of how we underestimate the service part of retail.

“Next year my yearning for a brand-new laptop may return with unstoppable force, and with it a wall of deferred purchases unleashed by millions. Unfortunately, it feels like a lifetime that we will have to wait for it.”

The Guardian

Frances Ryan raised the idea by Rishi Sunak of an online tax in an effort to jump start the high street and persuade people to shop outside their homes.

“This is not the way to [support the high street],” she said. “Large chunks of the population moved to online deliveries during lockdown but there are many who have no choice but to rely on them. Millions of people who are at high risk from coronavirus owing to underlying health problems need online shopping to stay safe in the coming months.”

Others, she said, have health conditions which make it impossible for them to leave their homes.

“Almost a quarter of all fashion retailers have no step-free access for wheelchair users, while only 10% have a hearing loop available for shoppers with hearing aids,” she added. “An online sales tax is essentially a tax on disability.”

Disabled people are already struggling with unemployment or low paid jobs, she said.

“Economic recovery in a pandemic has to be balanced with public safety, just as the needs of cash-strapped families have to be acknowledged alongside struggling businesses,” she said. “Our high streets need support – but not at the expense of some of the poorest and most ill people in the country.”

The Daily Express

Leo McKinstry said change has been an inevitable part of the human condition and today we are living through another revolution, one that is transforming how we work.

“ Professional life is undergoing a historic shift from the office to the private residence,” he said. “Despite the end of lockdown, few companies or Government departments are pressing their employees to return to their offices.

“At the HMRC, four-fifths of staff are still based at home, while at Admiral Insurance, just 1,150 out of 7,500 workers are back at the firm’s centres in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.”

He said some commentators viewed this as an’ economic calamity born of overblown terror about the virus.’

“Given that the traditional working structure is becoming obsolescent, there is no point in keeping it alive artificially for the sake of propping up other commerce,” he argued.

Employers are saving rent, employees hundreds of pounds in commuting and have more time with family.

“The reluctance to return to office life has been fuelled, not by irresponsible Covid trepidation, but by a sensible recognition of home working’s advantages,” he said.