Shareholders in the companies that make acrylic screens must be among the few financial beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because acrylic screens are now everywhere: protecting cashiers at supermarket checkouts, separating customers at hairdressing salons and shielding bus drivers from their passengers. The humble acrylic screen has proved to be an essential weapon in the struggle against the miserable virus that has turned our lives upside down this unforgettable year.
It has even found its way into our places of worship. Last Sunday, the congregation of St Paul’s, Colwyn Bay, gathered together for the first time since lockdown was declared in March. The experience was certainly unfamiliar: only 44 worshippers were allowed into the vast, beautiful building, each one sitting separated by two metres from the next. The church’s celebrated pink carpet was dotted with circular images of feet, also two metres apart, indicating the routes of entry and exit. No hymns were permitted, nor – for some unfathomable reason – was organ music. And there, on a small side table, stood the ubiquitous acrylic screen, protecting communicants as they received the host from the priest.
Unusual though the occasion was, it was good to be back among fellow congregants, who for 20 weeks had met only through Zoom calls: Zoom, another company that has prospered during Covid. Everyone was delighted to be together again. It was clear that an enormous amount of work had been done to prepare St Paul’s for the recommencement of worship. In that connection, huge thanks and congratulations are due to our Vicar, the Rev Christine Owen, who has worked tirelessly for her parishioners throughout the pandemic.
Slowly, tentatively, elements of normalcy are returning to our lives. On Monday of this week, our office in Colwyn Bay reopened. Members of staff – who are more than pleased to be back – are observing the two-metre rule, and containers of hand sanitiser adorn the corner of every desk.
Soon, we will be able to see constituents again, but by appointment only, and not until the final item of equipment has arrived: as you may have guessed, an acrylic screen.