PRESERVING quality of life in the pandemic, the future of workplaces and the economic damage of Covid were the issues debated by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Sarah Vine said Covid had taken away so much of what the elderly enjoy in life - and what keeps them young - visits from children and grandchildren and social events in care homes.

“Too many care homes, despite the often heroic efforts of staff, seem to have become quasi prison camps during the pandemic,” she said. “It is here that we are seeing the worst effects of the restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus. Deprived of outings and activities, and forbidden from receiving visitors, residents who previously thrived in their care environment have begun to deteriorate with alarming speed.”

She said there were countless stories of those whose quality of life had become so poor they were losing the will to live.

“For those with even mild dementia, or other age-related impairments, having to communicate with their loved ones from behind a screen or a face mask is distressing and confusing,” she said. “The same is true not just for the elderly, but for those with learning difficulties. They need that human touch, that squeeze of the hand. Because even if their minds don’t understand what’s going on, their bodies do. That sensory engagement is key in these situations.”

She said a Covid test now exists that can get a result in 15 minutes and argued that it was surely possible for a relative to turn up at a care home, have a test, self isolate for 15 minutes until the result is through and then spend quality time with their loved one, without the need for screens.

“Because it is not enough just to preserve a life. You also have to make it worth living,” she concluded.

The Guardian

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett said there were mixed feelings about a return to ‘business as usual’ following news of two potential vaccines.

“This year millions of people have learned what it is to work from home, many for the first time,” she said. “They have seen a better work-life balance unfurl before them, and they’ve enjoyed it. They have contemplated a life working more remotely, perhaps outside of the big cities.”

She said a YouGov survey showed most workers wanted to be able to work from home at least some time post pandemic.

“Capitalism can be a ruthless, stubborn beast, and while there has been much talk of the decline of the office, I am cynical about whether or not that will actually happen,” she said. “The status quo is a powerful drug. It may be that it will take another generation for working-from-home culture to fully take hold.”

She said the pandemic had seen many offices adopt a those who choose to go in, can, and those who find working at home more productive can continue to do so approach and asked if that could be a blueprint for the future.

“When it comes to the future of work, do we waste energy fighting the inevitable, or do we embrace the change?,” she said. “People have seen a glimpse of another way of living – and “when this is all over”, they will not want to relinquish it.”

The Independent

Former Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable warned there were reasons not to get over-excited about the future, even if the vaccines recently reported on are proven to work.

“The economic scars will become more apparent especially when the extended furlough ends in February; unemployment will then rise from the current 4.8 per cent to around 7 per cent (three million people),” he said. “Second, the negative shock of a potential “no deal” (or very thin deal) Brexit is still to be factored in, over and above the long-term costs.”

He said the Treasury was already in panic mode and spending in the NHS appeared to be ‘totally out of control.’

“The NHS is always run flat out: always short of staff, equipment and beds with little or no spare capacity,” he said. “When, as now, there is an emergency, there is a scramble for costly agency staff and imported equipment: hence, rampant inflation.

“There will be plenty of worries to come about how the cost of Covid is to be dealt with, but ministers would do well to hold steady, and accept that fighting the pandemic has been every bit as expensive as fighting a war.

“As in the post-war era we should expect to pay off the costs over a generation.”