How others behave could affect my health even if I ‘check in’ on the NHS app
I am no conspiracy theorist. I’ve had many an amusing showdown with people who deny the moon landing and those who believe I am being controlled by some kind of puppet master. Contudo, I cannot help but think that there has got to be something behind the government’s terrible messaging over the last week – beyond utter incompetence.
Now don’t get me wrong, the idea that Boris Johnson doesn’t know his arse from his elbow is not a concept I struggle with but, surely, there has got to be some master plan behind all the constant Covid-19 confusion. Tear off your máscaras – except please please wear a mask. Do go to France and enjoy your holidays – but, na realidade, please don’t go to France. Do whatever you want – but please try very hard to do that at a distance from one another.
On the day the freedom to go to nightclubs was producing viral videos of euphoric young people, the message came that in two months time this kind of wild abandon will very much not be allowed unless you can prove you have had been double jabbed. I was double jabbed on “freedom day” so I can brush off the glow sticks and get raving.
Clearer still is that this rule will be for nightclubs in particular with the government asserting that it wouldn’t be for pubs, because one man’s indoor, packed and poorly ventilated venue is another person’s completely safe public house. I haven’t been to a club in approximately 10 years but almost all pubs I do go to have music that people dance around to – while very close – and they are open until 2am. It’s almost as if, once again, these rules are being made by people who drink in private members’ clubs of the non-working men variety.
The pubs vs clubs issue is so very reminiscent of the heady days of the scotch egg, when government ministers – without even the slightest bit of tongue in their cheeks – seemed to think that Covid would avoid infecting people in pubs if they were eating a substantial meal, as if the deadly virus was discerning, judgemental even of the person who chose to go out only to drink. Perhaps we should have all carried around scotch eggs with us for protection.
The confusing clanger of the week went to the business minister, Paul Scully, who seemed to suggest that if a person was pinged by the app they could act with discretion about if they chose to isolate or not – then two hours later Number 10 had to press that people must isolate if they are told to. Famously, claro, Number 10 decided to act with discretion and not bother isolating when pinged, again two hours after announcing that, it was decided that the prime minister was not free from the rules he literally whipped into legislation.
I noticed as I went to eat lunch in a pub this week (don’t worry I was having a substantial meal of a fish finger sandwich) that less than half of the people who came in were checking into the site as they had before. Therefore, Scully was kind of right about people acting with discretion.
It is on all of us to behave appropriately, the government has decided to wash its hands (ah the days when there was a clear message) of responsibility. Personal responsibility is all well and good, and frankly, I trust the British people considerably more than I trust the government – who seem to currently have a two-hour limit on what they think about anything. But the trouble is that personal responsibility in a pandemic isn’t enough. How others behave could affect my health even if I keep checking in, keep a distance, get double vaxxed, avoid nightclubs, wear a mask and don’t go to France.
It was all so unprecedented once, back in the days of lockdown one. I cut the government slack, I understood that feast had to be moved and mistakes could be made. But we are now into the very poor sequels in the series. Mistakes in poor messaging, or the fact that once again people are being sent miles to get tests, or that another health secretary has Covid-19. It all just seems so painfully expected, and the mistakes so inexcusable.
There is one message that is being sent loud and clear, the government is flapping about aimlessly and people will die. I know there is no such thing as a perfect response in a crisis like this, but there is definitely such a thing as a very bad one. I give you the UK government in England.