On Monday we learnt June 21 would not be “freedom day” after all and MPs were asked to approve the continuation of restrictions plus an extension of the (hobbled) hybrid Parliament.
I did not vote for either.
Anyone who thinks it’s “just another few weeks and we’ll see this off” is not following the logic of what delay means.
We’ve vaccinated over three quarters of the adult population. Thirty million people (including me) have received their second dose and we’ve double jabbed the most vulnerable who will get seriously unwell and die from Covid.
So the question remains, delay for what?
As the Chief Scientific Advisor says, Covid is now an endemic disease.
I am not cavalier about this, I am a former Health Minister who looks at the whole picture of what we’re doing to our country while facing the reality (and the rhetoric) of accepting we must “learn to live” with Covid.
The reality is, it doesn’t matter if we are being held in Semi-Lockdown by the Delta or Nepalese variant, new strains of Covid are inevitable.
They will pop up in one country, be exported abroad and they will continue to occur unless we eradicate Covid completely from the planet.
And there are still those who think we should do exactly that - the zero Covid campaigners - who don’t want just zero Covid deaths as we saw in the data recently, they hold that one case of the virus is one too many.
Last year lockdown measures were a necessity - and I voted for them - not least because our hospitals were full with seriously unwell people.
This week we received very little national data on who is actually in hospital and why. I checked with our Trust and, on Monday, we had four Covid patients across three hospitals. None in ICU. Not exactly overwhelmed nor stopping the NHS getting on with the day job.
Deaths and hospitalisations are actually well below Sage's best case scenario when the exit roadmap was composed. So it’s legitimate to ask, how much better than the best case scenario do we have to do before we reach stage four?
We are told public opinion supports delay, and many do, but the job of Government is to lead public sentiment and give the fullest picture not one that backs up a particular scientific theory.
There are many who simply do not have skin the game. They can goto restaurants, see family and even freely go on holiday (if you can afford a trip to South Georgia) but they still get paid at the end of the month.
That is true of the academics who fill each day’s airwaves, the media and yes politicians.
But if you work in travel, or hospitality or the events industry, it’s very real frightening and being open doesn’t mean making a profit.
The evidence presented to us this week was not persuasive and I remain concerned both that the 19 July may not be the ‘terminus’ claimed and that restrictions may come back in the autumn. I have been unable to get reassurance on either point.
Chris Whitty says any new surges will meet a “wall of vaccinated people” and he’s right.
We are not going about our lives liberally out of carelessness but out of an acceptance of risk.
Whether we fully reopen this month or next - or push it back again - we will face an exit wave at some point and Summer is a good time to do that. Either way it’s one which, thanks to the vaccine, no longer carries the danger it once did.