Sunday 19 July 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XIII

Coming out of lockdown

This being the third Sunday of attending church by invitation was beginning to show our city for waking up from months of a lockdown. Having booked my ticket on the Eventbrite app yesterday, I set the alarm for 9:00 AM, just in case I was having a lie-in like I did yesterday.
On my way to church, I could not help but notice that a few luxury hotels that were heretofore closed due to the pandemic was receiving guests. One hotelier usually parks their Bentley Continental sedan at the entrance to the hotel, one could surmise they love to meet with their well-heeled guests and this time, it was a sign that they were back in business.
That early in the day, two busker trumpeters were already entertaining in front of the Arndale Shopping Centre, and though I heard on the radio that some churches were ringing their bells, that does not seem to have been given the consideration in Manchester.
Welcomed by name
As I arrived at church and got out my mobile phone to show the usher, he called me by name and ushered me in, whether by making an impression or his good memory, I was recognised and that itself was a warm welcome. Shame we cannot shake hands in greeting yet.
Finding a social distanced seat, the service soon started in the form that we have become used to, all sitting through it, no singing, silent communion with bread alone, collection by depositing in a common basket and prompt exits from the church with conversations preferred outside with adequate social distancing.
The service is usually done in an hour and the pleasant weather presents the opportunity for a long walk back. Again, I stopped at a Starbucks café for a café latte grande before taking a seat on the benches of St Peter’s Square between the Central Library and the tram stop, to make a call to Brian and watch the world go by.
Hibernation persists still
On my way back home, I walked down Oxford Road just out of curiosity to check if the hotels in the area were open for business too. From what I noticed, the reanimation of hotel accommodation would take some time as they try to reconfigure their businesses for a safe COVID-19 sensitive and compliant environment. One of the hotels that had been fully boarded up where months ago I walked right into a glass pane was open.
The other hotel that has had 3 changes of name in 5 years was all gated up, and since it changed hands just at the advent of the pandemic, I do wonder if the original prospect for its viability might have become a rather poor business proposition that a slight delay might have allowed the triggering of a force majeure preventing the completion of contracts. Who knows?
With the sun out though, many were in shorts and you would expect parks to be crowded and lest I forget, a few more restaurants, bars and cafes with outdoor seating are attracting some custom. I have not been convinced of any of this beyond shopping for essentials at the supermarket or getting medicines from a pharmacy and attending church. Everything else will have to wait, it is still dangerous out there and we need to be wise about it.

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