Freedom Day, when almost all Covid-19 restrictions are removed, having been postponed from the original midsummer’s day date, will finally arrive on July 19. When the first date was postponed, due partly to the appearance of the new Delta (or India) variant, much of the media and opposition together with a few government MPs and supporters were quick to condemn the decision. Now that July 19 has been confirmed as the new date, the media, predictably, has been full of many of the same voices condemning this date for being too soon.
It seems that we are actually enjoying the idea of lockdown, the sensation of being scared of release – a variant (since variants are in fashion) perhaps, of Stockholm Syndrome when the captured take the side of their captors.
But should we be scared of release?
The government’s position is that the link between infection followed by hospitalisation and, in some cases, death has been largely broken. Although infections are rising, hospital admissions are going up only slowly with many hospitals still having no Covid-19 patients. Deaths of those who have had a positive Covid-19 test within the previous 28 days are remaining relatively stable. Moreover, there are concerns that a further wave could hit in the autumn/winter and if release did not happen now, we could find ourselves in lockdown until next spring and the continued damage that this could cause to employment, the economy and our mental and physical health would be enormous. We must remember, too, that the intention is to have given all adults the opportunity of being vaccinated by the end of September.
The young, we know, do not suffer to the same extent as their elders and with the success of the vaccination program it would seem that my suggestion in an earlier article that virus “will have nowhere to go” before long is not an unreasonable one.
Of course, there will always be a small proportion of those who have been vaccinated who will still get Covid-19, but it has been demonstrated that even in these cases the effect of the virus is much reduced. A classic recent example of this was BBC presenter Andrew Marr who, despite vaccination, caught the virus and although he said it was unpleasant, he missed just one of his shows and was back, fully recovered, by the the next one, just a week later.
Infections nationally are certainly on the rise. In Rother the latest figure (July 6) is 121 per 100,000 people. This represents a small rise from the previous week, although still only half the national average for England.
The government is leaving it up to us to decide on our own actions, so do we need to wear masks still, can we safely go into shops and pubs? Some will undoubtedly feel more comfortable continuing with masks and there is certainly an argument for continuing them in enclosed crowded areas – for example public transport at busy times – or to give confidence to those who might feel particularly vulnerable. But it has been shown that masks, at best, are only marginally useful and then only in protecting other people from you, rather than protecting you from other people.
Thanks to the miracle of modern science, we can learn to live with Covid-19, just as we live with flu (and the seasonal epidemic of flu produces far more victims than we are currently seeing with Covid-19), the common cold and other everyday viruses.
Wear a mask, if you feel you must, keep your distance, if you feel you must, isolate if you feel you must. If you need to, take the same precautions as you would against seasonal flu. We need not be afraid to go back to “normal”. “Project fear” has been inflicted on us for the last eighteen months, there is no reason now not to reclaim our lives.
For me, on July 19 my mask is going in the bin and I am off to my favourite local to stand at the bar, once more, meet friends and order a pint.
Image Credits: John Minter .