As large parts of the United Kingdom prepare to go into extended restrictions tomorrow, the great danger now is one of Covid fatigue.
Since March of this year, the population have generously gone along with the Government advice in most respects, although at times their patience has been sorely tried – notably, by the very pulic examples of politicans, their advisors, and their own relatives outrageously breaching the rules which the rest of us have so carefully followed. Because of this, the name of Dominic Cummings is now anathema across this land, for example. Equally infamous – if not more so – is the Scottish MP who recently travelled to Parliament after being tested for Covid – to speak about Covid, no less – and then travelled back to Scotland despite getting a positive test result. She has since opined that “a lot of people say Covid makes you do things out of character. You’re not thinking straight”. That clears that up, then.
Presently, there is an emerging dissent between the Government and SAGE, and between the Government and the Opposition, with Sir Keir Starmer calling this evening for the PM to announce a so-called ‘circuit-breaker’, a mini lockdown of sorts, saying the most recently announced restrictions will not be sufficient to reduce infection rates. I think most people, regardless of political persuasion, probably agree with him.
And the release yesterday evening – after the PM’s live TV address – of the SAGE minutes didn’t help matters, as this made plain that the scientific minds of this illustrious group had proposed more stringent restrictions three weeks ago, with the Cabinet discussing and then promptly rejecting them. Well, the Govenment can no longer claim – as they have done thus far – to be “led by the science”.
The respective Governments of the nations of the UK are in a dificult place.
I don’t envy their need to try to balance national health concerns in the midst of a pandemic, against economic concerns which are worsening by the day – this must surely be an impossible task for any Government.
However, today’s figures for the United Kingdom – 17,234 new positive cases and 143 new deaths in the past 24 hours – give clear pause for thought on where the priorities should lie.
Now, what is needed is a very clear and consistent strategic response from Government, with explicit timelines and an exit strategy, so that the general population know what is happening, why it is happening and how long it will be happening for.
Otherwise, Covid fatigue may well ruin everything.