The fact that my In-tray is evenly split between correspondents outraged by the slightest infringements of our freedoms to restrain the spread of Covid, and those who are outraged by the increasing freedoms we are now enjoying as being irresponsible and spreading disease, misery and death, probably means that the Government are getting it just about right.
The infection rate is deeply alarming, so I will be avoiding nightclubs (what a fearful deprivation of liberty), wearing a mask when it seems sensible, but increasingly doing what I can to return to normal over the Summer Recess. A large photograph in today’s Daily Telegraph shows a number of us mask-free for the final PMQs yesterday. We are perfectly well socially distanced, and the Chamber was baking hot, so I thought a mask-free moment sensible. The picture has occasioned outrage from some.
The Ping-demic is causing huge and unnecessary disruption. If we have 100,000 new cases a day which seems likely, and if they have been in contact with - let’s say - 20 people before they were diagnosed, then 2 million people a day will be ‘pinged’, 14 million a week, or the entire population in less than a month. This cannot go on. A tiny handful of those ‘pinged’ have tested positive, so I really do think it sensible to move to a testing regime rather than this pretty random contract tracing programme. (I hate Apps anyhow.)
Then again, it seems to me only reasonable that the proprietors of nightclubs, perhaps football matches and other large gatherings will want to be reasonably certain that those attending their event are free of the disease. A certificate of ‘two jabs’, or proof of a negative PCR test is the only way they can be certain. The true libertarians are outraged at the resulting ‘Covid passport’, ignoring the fact that we need all kinds of vaccination certificates to travel to all sorts of parts of the world. It seems to me not unreasonable that if we want to do certain things, we should have to prove that we will not infect other people at the event.
We are not through this thing yet, so while I welcome the final removal of compulsory Lockdown, and the resulting greater freedom for the individual; we must still be very careful in everything we do. Numbers of those in hospital and sad deaths are lower than when infection was last at this level back in January, largely thanks to the superb vaccination programme. So the spread of infection is worrying, and we must do what we can to control it; but its consequences are much less severe than in previous infection surges.
Let us all therefore take reasonable precautions and behave sensibly and with good manners and concern for others. But for Heaven’s sake let us avoid the mildly self-righteous extreme Covid battlers, who would have us imprisoned for ever. We need our ‘Get out of jail free card’. And if not now, then when?