This is a critical moment for the country when it enters a season that infection rates shoot up: schools return, holiday makers return to the office, and rules have been relaxed.
The Government has issued its response with COVID winter plan. This sets out its plan B.
The warnings from the NHS are stark: Scotland’s schools start before England, and have experienced a five fold increase. The lack of risk control in schools due to the DFE having a different approach to the NHS is a sore point. So, are we heading for another winter lockdown?
Tom Chivers in Unherd is not unduly concerned.
Whilst he warns that “at the present rate of growth, we’ll be at 200 a day by November again, and no one seems to be all that concerned” ahe identifies why the government is not expecting another lockdown: Boris has vaccinated the population with 12-15 year olds to follow.
So with all the experience of last winter, with the farce of regional lockdowns, and then the national lockdown, she would be expecting the worst again? Possibly, with the Delta variant still at large and causing hospitalisations at 2.2 times the rate of the basic virus.
So should we be more worried? According to Plan B, no. It is very scant: re-imposition of face masks, and COVID passports, and work at home. Only the latter is going to make a real difference. The COVID passport is regarded as another form of ID and the government will suffer from dabbling with it. Boris has flip flopped all summer about with it currently dropped. But it could quite easily be introduced if Boris is bullied by his medical advisors.
Lockdowns is mired in political obfuscation: Boris is adamant they will not happen but we have been here before and lockdowns still happened when he had no choice but to do as he said – and follow the science. So deep in the small print Boris has allowed himself the option of a lockdown. If he does it again he can again say he allowed himself to follow the science – irrespective of what he advised the nation.
The Guardian believes it is not enough.
whilst the libertarian wing of the Conservative party are concerned that it still may lead to another lockdown and don’t want covid passports.
So the key test according to Spiked is what happens in schools.
However, this raises another libertarian issue about whether secondary age children should be vaccinated at all. The debate appears to be wide open with the government taking a long time and a lot of advice before making a decision.
A child rarely suffers from the symptoms and, when they do, it rarely involves hospitalisation. So the question of why they would directly benefit is unclear. However, a vaccinated child is less likely to infect me as a far more vulnerable adult in his fifties.
So, in terms of civil liberties, do we have a moral right to oblige children to take a vaccination that has minimal direct benefit to them? Should I oblige my child to the vaccination mainly for my health benefit?
One and half years on another issue is the weariness of the public with top down restrictions – wearing masks, social distancing, outbreaks causing school closures, working from home. But we have had the double vaccination with a boster on the way for some of us. So further restrictions re-introduced may lead to kickback. Why can’t we now get on with our life?
The worst case scenario for Boris is a negative impact on his political rating. At which the management of the pandemic becomes as much about politics as it does about the science.
Boris is wrestling with a public image of either perceived lack of progress from the government with getting back to normal or a fear of getting back to normal.
The New Zealand zero COVID model is not seen as a viable option, that is, part of the Conservative is looking for a return to normal now and no more lockdowns. and too many rules in Australia.
The anti vaxxers are getting in the way according to Spiked. We may have reached peak vaccination- any not vaccinated is not likely to convinced. But the ethics around anti-vaxxers is a troubling one. In this country civil liberties originally trumped all arguments but now the government has found a back door – the Health and Safety at Work Act – using legislation to align the government with Pimlico Builders: no Vax no job.
What we know is anti-vaxxers belong with the rest of the conspiracy theorists, and are the ones more likely to catch the virus, become ill, and possibly die. So, like smokers and alcoholics, some argue they are a financial drain on the NHS.
This time there are no second chances, no willingness from the public to give the government some slack, less fear about the consequences. The end of furlough will also bring a new demand for economic recovery for jobs. By December the public will have decided.