In an astounding performance of mental gymnastics, Boris Johnson’s inept leadership in the past week has seen him beg British workers to get back to the office. Johnson did this to avoid further job losses after new figures emerged showing just over a third of Brits have headed back to work in the office. Unsurprisingly, Whitehall leads the way with a staggering 1 in 20 civil servants returning to work in person.
Despite this desperation, the government continues to whip the public into a COVID-19 panic state, with looming threats of new potential small-scale lockdowns and an ever-increasing list of places we must all muzzle ourselves to enjoy.
The latest list of mask-wearing locations sounds as if it has been borrowed from a meeting on who might have been worse affected by the government and media induced frenzy surrounding this virus.
The locations, including cinemas, museums, salons, social clubs and indoor entertainment venues, that are now being targeted in this useless policy makes you think. It would be naïve to think this will do anything less than real harm to these establishments.
The poorly thought out plan, (which I suspect more each day may not have been thought out at all) shows the government blundering through each step of lockdown. The government has already done enough damage to the ordinary people and small businesses this will impact.
Deborah Cohen’s spectacular reporting on the WHO’s admission suggested that the mask-reviewing committee would not recommend face coverings due to the evidence, but only did so because of political lobbying. This seems to be at odds with Mr Johnson’s claims that “mandatory use of face coverings will reduce the risk to the population at large from these individuals”. As far as I am aware, he is not considered to be among the experts in the field of epidemiology. Even with his own government’s declaration last month that “the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small”.
What we need now more than ever is strong, coherent leadership after a disastrous policy which has seen record levels of quarterly borrowing. Huge increases in development of first time serious mental illness and, although the furlough scheme may currently be masking unemployment, a spike is impending as we draw closer towards the end of the Job Retention Scheme. The number of jobs lost during lockdown already standing at over 650,000 with a further 135,000 on the line.
What we are getting is the threat of “greater police presence” to gleefully enforce a policy with no substantial scientific backing, something that has been extraordinarily absent at times such as the 19% rise in violent crimes reported at the start of last year.
Up to 4,000 deaths are to be removed from the total number after excellent work unearthing statistical flaws by Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Yoon Loke, of Oxford University and the University of East Anglia respectively. As well as new data showing that in the week of 27 July to 2 August that an estimated 28,300 people (about 0.05% of the population) had the virus followed by a statement from the ONS stating “while recent figures suggest the percentage of individuals testing positive has risen since the end of June – the lowest recorded estimate – there is now evidence to suggest this trend may have levelled off”.
If we wish to continue protecting our citizens, from the virus and a host of other issues that the incoming economic downturn will create, it is vital we reopen the economy with as little restriction as we had before and remove the impositions on people’s liberty. It would be far-fetched to imagine this particular government admitting their mistakes and apologising for the swiftness with which they plunged us into a tyrannical farce but taxpayer funded healthcare cannot protect us while we continue to destroy the very means by which we pay for it.
Charlie Van Perlo is a First Year Business Management and Leadership Student.
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