The Businesses Battling Coronavirus with Solidarity

We’re sure all the good people of the Change Incorporated readership have had quite their fill of being told we’re living through unprecedented times. Hell, even before the novel coronavirus Covid-19 began its global pilgrimage, we were imparting a very similar message.

It’s pretty hard for any of us to focus on anything right now other than self preservation, and this is no bad thing. In the case of this virus, self preservation—social isolation and maniacal handwashing—could actually help save us. In times like these, though, outside of fighting the good fight by staying indoors and binge watching Better Call Saul, it’s good to remember the positives, and the people who are trying to make sure this godawful nightmare is burnt out of existence with the least amount of pain possible. 

While the altruistic actions in this article are predominantly done by businesses, it is, of course, integral to remember the startlingly brave work being done by over tired, overworked medical professionals across the world trying to put a plaster on a planet-sized cut. 

The restaurant industry is going to be taking a staggering hit in the coming weeks and months, it hasn’t stopped some going out on a limb to try and make things a bit better. Pret A Manger, the favourite of office workers now forced to talk to their children for long periods of time, are offering a 50 percent discount on all food, and free hot drinks to all NHS workers. Similarly, the ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya, which has closed all but its Angel location in London, is offering the same deal. Lots of cut-price hot liquids to keep the cockles warm. 

Hospitality isn’t just what you eat, it can also be where you stay. There’s been a lot of talk of hotels and other big buildings with bedrooms in (though not Buckingham Palace unsurprisingly) being requisitioned for NHS staff to stay in, as they can’t go home for risk of infecting their families. Chelsea Football Club’s on-site hotel at Stamford Bridge, the Millennium, has been offered up, with club owner Roman Abramovich footing the bill for the stays. Shame they won’t be able to catch a game.

Up in Bristol, Psychopomp’s gin distillery is using their alcohol to make hand sanitiser, and distributing it to the local community in exchange for a charity donation. A particularly brave endeavour when you consider how much likely gin-swilling in the gutters is going to be in the coming weeks. It’s a growth industry, but they’re biting the bullet. Fair play!

Pret a Manger with a customer in a face mask

The local hand sanitiser for local people initiatives don’t stop there either. In Stenhousemuir, a town in Scotland’s Central Lowlands, a corner shop is prioritising masks and sanitiser to the elderly, giving them care packages for free. Asiyah and Jawad Javed, who own the shop, say the venture has cost them over £2,000, so if you’re in the Stenhousemuir area, be sure to give them a helping hand by buying every single Kinder Bueno they have.

Naturally, a lot of these things revolve around food. In times of crisis our thoughts unselfishly turn to our stomachs, and how and when they’ll be filled. The most vulnerable among us, both regularly and especially now, are our ageing population. As the most at-risk to serious complications from this virus, it’s important to safeguard them from potential threats of infection.

That’s why supermarkets like Iceland and Sainsbury’s have introduced an ‘elderly hour’ at the start of the day. This is a time exclusive for pensioners to do their shopping once trading starts, in a store that’s been freshly cleaned and away from crowds. The stores won’t be checking ages, so please, for the love of god, don’t be a nuisance and get your sticky corona fingers all over the stockpiles of Smash and tapioca the oldies will be buying. 

Across the giant pond, Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp has dedicated the use of one of its TV factories to make face masks. The Chinese-owned company says it will be able to produce 150,000 masks per week (!), once the transition from making LCD screens is completed. It must be taken into consideration, though, that the masks are better for preventing others getting sick, and not so much stopping you getting it. Keep that in mind before you throw a gas canister through a shop window to grab the last one. 

Asian woman wearing a face mask

It’s good to remember that, at times like these, it’s not only our physical health that’s in peril, but mental health too. Being cooped up at home might give us a whole new set of anxieties, and perhaps aggravate some pre-existing ones as well. This is, naturally, worse for those in healthcare. Many will not be able to see or be in close contact with their families for some time, piling on strain when there’s enough to begin with. That’s why meditation app Headspace have offered their services free of charge to any medical professional in this horribly trying time.

And American phone network Mint Mobile, which is part-owned by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, is giving their customers, new and existing, free data for a month. "These last few days have thrown the world into an unprecedented moment of uncertainty where reliable communication is of the utmost importance," Mint says on its website. "We feel it's necessary to do something that could possibly help all of us navigate this tough time a little bit better."

So you see, the people are chipping in. And it is, of course, not just business taking the lead. Tens of thousands of volunteers up and down the country, and, undoubtedly, across the globe, are setting up community aid groups, to make sure the most vulnerable have access to medicine and food as and when they need it. People like Rachel Pleasant in Greater Manchester, who set up a Facebook group with two friends last week. "Before we know it we've had 2,000 people join the page and 3,500 messages of support saying please let us help. It's been amazing."

It will be a difficult fews months ahead, and as such it’s important we all, from top to bottom, take time to think of others and elicit the best of ourselves. Not like that guy who bought 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to then resell online before Amazon stripped him of his right to do so and he ended up donating them and is now being investigated for price gouging. That guy fucking sucks.