The Flooring Show at Harrogate last month saw the industry return to a more normalised state. This must continue if we’re to leave the pandemic behind us.

IT felt for a moment at the hugely successful CFJ/CFA Awards at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire that we had – at last – returned to normal. As I looked around the room and saw people enjoying themselves, it could have been June 2019.

The shock of Covid-19 – or rather of the government-imposed lockdowns which were a consequence of the pandemic – will stay with us for a long time. Nobody will forget PM Boris Johnson urging Britons to stay at home on that fateful Tuesday in March last year.

But now with the economy rebounding and people free to go about their daily business, and with the scientific breakthrough of the vaccine, many think we’re almost back to normal. And indeed, it almost felt that way at The Flooring Show in Harrogate between 19-21 September as well.

No doubt about it, seeing the great and the good of the industry going about their business and picking up where they left off in 2019 was a sight for sore eyes. At last, it seemed we’ve turned a corner and put the pandemic behind us once-and-for-all.

Many of those I spoke to were cautiously optimistic, although there was marginally more caution than optimism on view. It reminded me of the tone after the EU referendum in June 2016 when some were seriously worried about the future whereas others were more relaxed.

So, overall – and with the return of the CFJ/CFA Awards and The Flooring Show in one month – it would be fair to say it looks like we’ve reached the peak (excuse the pun) and are on our way down the other side. But this is where I urge caution.

It certainly pays to be optimistic rather than pessimistic – but as always with these things, a huge dollop of realism wouldn’t go astray. There’s the chance that, at any time, government could use its vastly accrued new powers to slap another lockdown on the country. It could be the result of a sudden surge in cases or perhaps a new variant. Either way, the possibility remains worryingly real.

If the holding of the CFJ/CFA Awards and The Flooring Show prove anything it’s that normal life will – must – continue. In this column last month I argued that normal life must be allowed to continue without the constant threat to our freedoms.

If the success of the awards and the Harrogate show is anything to go by, a freer future is within our grasp. If government can hold its nerve in the days, weeks, and months to come, we’ll be able to celebrate our return to the ‘old normal’.