Originally posted on Wolves of Westminster, on 23rd June 2021
The Government’s roadmap set out in February indicated that come Monday, June 21st, we would get our freedom back. These everyday freedoms differ for everyone. For some, it might just be simple pleasures such as a day out at the beach, visiting friends or even just updating your wardrobe. Or it could very well be a well overdue family holiday to Portugal.
Yet, on June 14th, the Prime Minister informed us that the date we were ready to welcome with open arms would be delayed, yet again. And although many of you might just be thinking, “Oh, leave off! It’s only another 4 weeks”, here is precisely why that mindset is highly problematic.
SAGE appears to now be part of the problem. The Government’s ‘unelected’ Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have relished in the requirement of their expertise, and now they seem unable to let go of their tight grip on newly found power. This is clearly evident, as it was revealed by The Mirror that the data which informed the unnecessary extension of restrictions was out of date.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I saw this, I was fuming. We’re supposed to be a democratic state that elects a government that is supposed to look after our best interests, and one assumes they would do so by using up-to-date information… so why is it that we now find ourselves in a state where those governing us are doing so with, essentially, fake news?
All the effort that has gone into being overly cautious with this new virus has been to protect the NHS, the vulnerable and the elderly. This has meant that healthy people – the ones who are barely affected by COVID – are the ones who have had to put their lives on hold.
Students have been locked up like rabbits in hutches, negatively impacted by the anti-social timetable of Zoom calls and pre-recorded lectures. Overall, it could be said that the 2020/21 academic year has been the least mentally stimulating year on record.
Businesses have been closing left, right and centre and now continue to do so, as even the current COVID restrictions mean they aren’t receiving pre-pandemic revenue levels. Our hope and our light at the end of the tunnel was vaccines. We all know vaccines are not 100% effective, but we have 3 vaccines and an incredible rollout:
In England, 62.6M doses had been given, 26.5M fully vaccinated and 47.4% fully vaccinated
In Scotland, 6.23M doses had been given, 2.59M fully vaccinated and 47.4% fully vaccinated
In Wales, 3.76M doses had been given, 1.52M fully vaccinated and 48.4% fully vaccinated
In Northern Ireland, 1.85M had been given, 810K fully vaccinated and 43.0% fully vaccinated
(Data accurate as of 20th June 2021, from OurWorldInData)
The extension of restrictions makes no sense whatsoever. So many people are willing to be vaccinated, and tens of millions of people have had the vaccine. In an interview with The Spectator in January, our own Health Secretary said that once the most vulnerable were vaccinated, “he would personally cry freedom”.
Did anyone hear Hancock’s cry? Nope. Me neither.
I want you to think back a few years ago, during the winter months (any year, it doesn’t matter), you were guaranteed to face the enemy of the old, ‘the common cold’. However, schools, shops, museums and hairdressers didn’t close their doors. Everything carried on as per usual. So why, then, when we’ve vaccinated the vulnerable and essentially ‘controlled this virus’, are we now continuing to put our lives on hold?
The absolute terror is the cost of all this SAGE scaremongering. The economic burden for future generations will be painful, and as a 23-year-old, the outlook (financially) was already complicated enough, with a steep rise in house prices. An added strain on top of the already increasingly scarce job market.
With people being furloughed and the Government’s excessive spending to “keep us safe”, the outlook is incredibly bleak.
I feel incredibly sympathetic for the hospitality industry, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for individuals like Sacha Lord and Adam Brooks. I follow these two individuals on Twitter, and they have continuously highlighted how the hospitality industry has essentially been pushed aside by this Conservative Government.
Sacha has been challenging the Government to release the data, which says this industry – the 5th-largest and the most significant industry in the UK – cannot operate at total capacity.
The amount this is going to cost and the amount of time required for the hospitality industry to get back to pre-COVID levels is unprecedented and should worry us all. Of course, I’ve only mentioned one industry and outlined why this delay is not okay but to put it simply, there’s too much for one opinion piece to discuss.
Finally, are we not all social beings?
My closing remark about why this delay is not okay is the devastating social impact these draconian restrictions have had on us. At the end of the day, we are social beings; whether with friends, family or colleagues, being social is at the core of being human.
Looking after our mental health, as we know, is incredibly important. Yet, a shocking article released by The Telegraph the other night had the headline ‘Five-year-olds having ‘panic attacks over socialising with their friends‘.
Five-year-olds should be having the time of their life, not “suffering behavioural problems fuelled by lockdowns, social distancing and fear of infection”. What kind of world do we live in where we teach our kids through fear? Since March 23rd 2020, everything we have done has been to protect the vulnerable, the elderly and the NHS. They are protected. Now, let’s learn to live with Covid, stop putting our lives on hold and get back to living our lives the way we want to.