THE Government took a brave decision last week, subtly changing the messaging around our awareness of Covid-19.

We’re seeing a pathway laid out for a measured return to some semblance of the “norm” – for some of our schools, businesses, and leisure activities. Time will tell whether this balance has been struck too early – or not.

For many, lockdown has been a ghastly experience for families and friends, not able to meet each other, for those in our community that have lost loved ones, and those who’ve fallen victim to the virus – and have thankfully recovered.

In southern Ryedale, what a brilliant job our doctors and nurses continue to do at Malton Hospital, at Derwent Practice, and in our Care Homes. Malton’s Free Fridge too, the cookery school and the foodbank, indeed all the volunteers from our community are just some of the unsung heroes – and we’re hugely grateful to them all.

In Malton, whilst the impacts of the virus have been relatively low, a high proportion of our people fall into the vulnerable and high risk groups.

It goes against my instinct, but let’s not be over-eager to hang out the signs just yet telling everyone that Malton is open for visitors once again. I know the vast majority of our traders and service providers want to look ahead to the time when we can resume some sense of the norm for our town. I get it. And after all, they’re the bedrock of our rural economy – but we must be patient.

Despite the gradual relaxation of restrictions, in some form or another our way of life will be affected for months to come. But that gives us an opportunity too, as in all likelihood most of us will be holidaying in Britain for the rest of the year.

As soon as we’re able, let’s collectively build massive loyal support for all our local traders – and win back the visitors to our market towns too. For its part, Malton Town Council will be there, “out front”, tangibly trumpeting all that’s good about our remarkable town. We have work to do.

Paul Emberley, Malton mayor

Time to take stock

HOVINGHAM residents deserve praise and support for their climate actions and their community action plan, which aims for carbon neutrality by the 2030s. Their practical actions so far include the provision of an electric car changing point, which will benefit both residents and visitors, and the creation of a repair café, which will enable household goods to be repaired and re-used.

At a time when we are understandably focused on the death, suffering and economic devastation being caused by coronavirus, it is important not to forget the parallel concerns about the effects of our rapidly changing climate and the opportunities presented by decarbonising.

The shutdown of many of our businesses and society in general is a good time to re-evaluate how we can develop a more sustainable economy that also provides the large number of jobs required when the peak of the virus is well and truly passed.

A massive programme to insulate our poor housing stock will cut household bills, create jobs and cut our overall level of CO2 emissions. The further expansion of renewable energy will provide cheaper, affordable energy and yet more jobs.

Coronavirus has also highlighted failures in both our care system and in the way we financially support people in difficult times. The introduction of a basic income support for everyone would ensure that, at a time of crisis, help would be there, available across the board.

If anyone is in any doubt about the impacts of our warming climate and the necessity of urgent action to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gases, I would urge people to read David Wallace-Wells’ book, The Uninhabitable Earth, where he outlines many of the challenges ahead. These range from the possibility of further pandemics, the shortage of water, the effect on agriculture, the increase in wildfires and the disruption of our societies and ecosystems. But in taking stock as we emerge from the present coronavirus situation, there is hope. Some people have called it a wake up call. We must use this opportunity to move towards a fairer and more sustainable world.

Josephine Downs, Swinton