No going back to pre-Covid times

Government pressure to return en masse to offices (Report, 2 September) has more than a whiff of ulterior motive about it. No one underestimates the distress that Covid has brought to businesses by the disappearance of daily commuters. But are the hours of tedious travel and the attendant risk of a second wave of infection – to say nothing of the avoidable harm to the environment – really justified to restore the cashflow to coffee shops and sandwich bars?

What is being overlooked is the long-term opportunity that would flow naturally from more people working and spending near their homes. We have been hearing for decades about the decline of village and suburban shops, pubs, leisure centres and other amenities. What better way to revitalise these communities than keeping their residents’ customer demand local.
John Butterworth
Preston, Lancashire

Sage seems fixated on the virus impact of students returning home at Christmas (Students returning at Christmas could seed new coronavirus outbreaks, scientists warn, 5 September). It seems oblivious to the impact of students travelling across the country and arriving in university towns later this month. Universities will be bringing their students to live in crowded halls and houses among local communities, where they will be shopping, working and partying, alongside residents of all ages, in towns near or at critical levels of infection. Independent Sage recommended online teaching only. Some US universities have already had to call it quits and send their students home. Is it too late to avert a crisis here?
Dr Richard Tyler

For the first time in six months, my wife and I ventured into Cardiff city centre on Saturday night. Walking to our restaurant, we had to dodge hordes of youthful revellers weaving their way from bar to bar, none of whom were wearing face coverings, complying with social distancing or following the one-way system for pedestrians. Inside the restaurant felt like a safe environment, but on the streets there was minimal change in behaviour from days before Covid.

If our experience is typical of nights out across the UK, we can expect to see significant rises in people testing positive, with little hope of turning things round until there is genuine acceptance that we just cannot carry on as before.
Mike Pender

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