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Are we nearly there yet?

By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna calls on the government to consider the wider and damaging implications beyond COVID if they decide to delay the ending of restrictions this month.

‘Freedom Day’ is set for June 21st. However, on a daily basis, we are being inundated with data, commentary, and opinions from Scientists, politicians, and everyone in-between, with contradictory views on the wisdom of opening up and loosening the draconian restrictions that, worryingly, many of us feel comfortable with nowadays.

Our Prime Minister and his colleagues, having totally ballsed up their initial approach to the Pandemic, appear to be indecisive when resolution is required; and totally focussed and obsessed on COVID, without taking any account of the consequences, the deep and dangerous consequences, that Lockdowns and restrictions have had and are having.

As a business leader, you would expect me to highlight the obvious economic impact that has been inflicted on us during the past fourteen months. Many businesses have gone to the wall, thousands have lost their jobs, and the economic drivers of UK Plc – our great cities, from London to Newcastle- are still like ghost towns, despite the easing of COVID measures in recent weeks.

However, although there is more bad news to come as far as jobs and the economy is concerned, businesses and cities will bounce back. Through necessity, innovation, commitment and determination, the wealth creating places and entrepreneurs will, slowly but surely, become vibrant and successful once again.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the millions of kids who have had a chunk of their education stolen from them over the past year and have been written off by the government this week. The School COVID catch up Tsar has, understandably, resigned as the government offered just £1.4bn funding to get our children back on track – that’s about 10% of what independent experts say is needed.

The same cannot be said of the thousands of cancer patients, many undiagnosed, more missing essential treatments. They and their families can be rightly angry at the way in which the state has played Russian Roulette with their lives.

The same cannot be said of the countless number of young, middle-aged, and elderly who have suffered mental health challenges during the pandemic and will continue to do so, some for the remainder of their lives. A good number have, of course, committed suicide, such is the pressure of a national Lockdown.

Those who have suffered brutal Domestic Violence will find it tough to ‘bounce back’ too. Bad enough being a victim of a violent partner during ‘normal’ times – the past fourteen months will have been a living hell for those who are physically and mentally abused at home. There is an urgent need for a cost-benefit analysis of Lockdowns. It should have happened much earlier, but better late than never. Hopefully, when the PM and his colleagues recognise that there are many, in my view now, greater costs associated with continually shutting up shop, we will, indeed, celebrate Freedom Day on 21st June. Another delay, and the price will be even higher than the one we are due to pay now.

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