Just as we were due to emerge from our own quarantine on Monday, the nation is set to go into a new one of its own, from Monday. Yesterday, our increasingly hapless looking PM, announced a new set of restrictions including:
- Rule of six – restricting social gatherings both indoors and outdoors by law to just six people.
- Covid marshalls – an army of people to check up on venues to ensure restrictions are being enforced.
- University lockdowns – where students will be ordered not to return home in the event of an outbreak.
- Live events – plans to allow crowds back into sporting fixtures are “under review” which I guess means that parkrun, which had vowed to return in October, now won’t after all.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a more depressing day’s news – and that’s saying something this year – than today’s Daily Telegraph which is brimming with barely suppressed anger. Here are just a few examples, first from columnists.
We cannot continue to mothball society while we wait for a vaccine, and need a new approach based on testing and responsible interaction. Otherwise we face catastrophe. Lockdowns, quarantines and kneejerk reactions have entrenched fear and inertia, inhibiting people from leading active, productive lives. Unless we change course, the retail sector will implode, restaurants will go bust and theatres will close forever. Tourism will be decimated. The economic decay will last for years.
Sir Mick Davies, Former Conservative Party chief executive
These announcements missed a crucial ingredient of the first round of lockdown measures – any recognition of how the public mood has changed since then, in the face of glaring discrepancies and wild fluctuations. “Back to work!” they cry “Eat out to help out!” – but not too much, or you, may be blamed for rising transmission. “Mass testing”, but without the masses. Either way, the danger remains – too much tinkering with already-unenforceable rules and we will ignore them and crack on regardless.
What had previously been guidance on the numbers allowed to socialise together is now a legally enforceable limit of six, an extraordinary restriction on our liberties that will last for months, wrecking Christmas for millions.
Cancellation therefore looms for Halloween, Christmas, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah, bonfire night and just about everything else that gives anybody any joy or meaning during Britain’s dark, long winters.
And here are three excerpts from readers’ letters
Unbelievable! We were hoping to get back to some sort of normality, albeit painfully slowly, but now the Prime Minister announces yet more restrictions on our freedom. It seems that the Government is determined to ruin the country and destroy everyone’s lives completely. For pity’s sake let us have our lives back before we all commit suicide.
Students returning to university would have a great opportunity to develop immunity by allowing Covid to run through their ranks – as seems inevitable. Building herd immunity among young people before they return home at Christmas would help to protect the elderly and vulnerable in the long-run. It would be better to allow our young some form of life since the virus represents no real threat to them. They, after all, are going to have to pay for this mess.
I am one of thousands waiting for surgery – in my case a new knee. To say that I am in agony is no exaggeration, and the pain is not restricted to the knee. The other knee is going the same way … My surgeon, in whom I have the utmost faith, tells me his hands are tied and that it has been decreed that no elective surgery is to be carried out on the over-70s on safety grounds. How can a civilised country treat its senior citizens in this way? I was a useful member of the community. Now I am a wretched creature dragging myself around on two sticks, frequently in tears. It cannot be right.
If Tory Party supporting middle England feels like this, something has gone very wrong.
Reading all of this, stuck here as I am, religiously obeying this ridiculous quarantine makes me feel like an utter idiot. I want to get out of here but there’s nowhere to go neither geographically nor politically.