Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Pain of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down countries and led financial markets to crash, bringing losses for businesses and investors. But it has left millions of poor people around the world particularly exposed.  31% of people in finance, insurance and business are able to work from home, fewer than one in ten in the bottom half of the earnings table can. So far no provision for the nearly seven million workers who do not qualify for statutory sick pay because they are self-employed or don’t meet the earnings threshold of 118 pounds per week.

 Melissa Preston has a choice: go to work for the money to pay her rent or stay at home to keep her family safe from the coronavirus outbreak. Before the pandemic, Preston earned around 250 pounds a week as a cleaner. Now she is worried about putting herself and her family at risk by going in and out of other people’s homes. 

Like some 5 million Britons, she is self-employed, so does not get sick pay. Government benefits alone would not be enough to pay the 800 pounds monthly rent for her house where she lives with her two daughters. 

“It’s a choice between: do I go and put myself at risk and then bring that in to my children? ... Or do I just, you know, bite the bullet?” Melissa, who is 42, told Reuters. 

She has bought protective clothing and even goggles to wear while she cleans. Melissa has spent hours calling government phone numbers and looking online for answers. She watches the government’s daily news conferences on TV to see if any measures to help people like her will be announced. 

“I’ve been watching that every day. I’m glued to it ... watching it, just sort of waiting.” 

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