by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor, Y Tir
Today is the 8th of March 2021. Just a year ago today everyone was about to start the last 'normal' week, without even knowing it.
It's hard to believe how much life has changed in a year - many have lost loved ones to the invisible virus that still controls us, everyone living a 'locked down' life, social distancing, wearing masks, using gallons of hand sanitiser, getting used to working from home and homeschooling children for most of the past year.
Normal life and social events, which were taken for granted up until last year, were cancelled.
The country's key workers, from doctors and nurses to lorry drivers, from postmen to farmers have been vital in keeping the country going, in uncertain and distressing times. But what is it like to work full time through a pandemic? Cornel Clecs had the opportunity to ask Arwel Hamer, manager of the Felinfach branch of Clynderwen & Cardiganshire Farmers (CCF) in Ceredigion about his experience of working through the pandemic:
1) What is it like to work through a pandemic?
It's been an odd and different experience, but one I've had to get used to. I have been very lucky to be able to get up every morning and go to work, rather than having to work from home. I wouldn't cope very well with working from home!
2) What are the main barriers of working under the restrictions of the virus?
The hardest and most obvious barrier is the distance between staff and customers. Obviously, that is the safest way and everyone has to be protected, but it is not possible to provide the same level of service through a screen. Also, as staff, we miss the usual socialising over a cuppa, as only one at a time is allowed to go on a break in line with current restrictions.
3) How have customers coped with the new system at CCF?
Very good to be honest. As this is a national requirement, everyone is used to wearing masks and using hand sanitiser for months now. We operate a traffic light system. It is not possible to have more than 4 customers in the shop at a time (larger CCF stores allow more customers in at a time), and customers have to obey to the red or green light outside before being able to come in safely.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Arwel, and all the other key workers who have ensured that we can continue to farm and produce the best quality food, often by putting themselves in a dangerous position in the path of the virus. Things are beginning to get better slowly.