The long-awaited (partial) re-opening of some business services, in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors finally happened this week. There were also opportunities for families who have strictly abided to the draconian rules that have been in place since December to reunite – and there was a particularly heart-wrenching video circulating on social media of an elderly married couple being ‘allowed’ to see each other again after many months apart, with the husband nervously asking his carer ‘Are we allowed to hug?’
At one level, I can appreciate the natural Euphoria that has accompanied the re-introduction of some of our freedoms. However, a bigger part of me is concerned at how easily it has been for the authorities to remove some very basic human rights – and then bask in the thanks and appreciation of the general public when they give SOME of them back to us.
I am not a COVID denier. Nor am I anti-vax. Indeed, I had my first jab earlier this month. I am, though, healthily sceptical about the measures that scientists and politicians have advocated during the past twelve – months, wondering if a more balanced and common- sense approach would have delivered the same results in terms of supressing the virus.
Surely locking down sooner before the virus let rip would have been preferable to Eat out to Help Out? And closing our borders in a strict and efficient fashion, better than shutting down gyms? And adopting a partnership approach with business, more positive than threatening them with closure, fines, and introducing more red tape and bureaucracy as the crisis unfolded?
So yes, I am delighted that I can go to one of our many spectacular venues, albeit outside, and enjoy a meal and a pint. My middle-aged spread, or ‘lockdown layer’, is relieved that I can get back into the gym. And I am thrilled to be meeting up with mates this evening to watch Everton on an outdoor giant television screen and share a few drinks.
However, I don’t feel in the mood to celebrate. The vaccination roll -out aside, could we have managed this crisis any worse?