isIt has been encouraging to hear for yonks now that this idea of quarantining overseas arrivals at hotels will finally be discussed at today’s meeting of the government’s Covid-O committee. The O stands for “Oh my God, I hate Mondays, let’s send it back until Tuesday instead.” I know none of us want to be impatient, but what are we really doing here – trying to give the new variants a sporting chance?
Intriguing that even at this point the UK sees itself as the scratch golfer of dealing with the pandemic, happy to allow the virus 32 shots, endless mulligans and several weeks of frictionless travel. Then again, you may need to take your wins where you can. In the past month, the virus has been the only thing able to cross our borders without being encumbered with red tape.
Regardless, Boris Johnson’s government continues to make pandemic decisions at the full speed of the Soviet Supreme Secretariat. Don’t ask for agile deadlines. It would honestly be faster to get Brezhnev to give the green light to a clean energy program.
This is ideal for people who really like lockdowns, who ideally want to wear four masks at once, who are enjoying an unnecessarily deep economic collapse, and who believe that a generation of children thrown under the bus is the price that you have to pay for any version. of purity that they give priority. For everyone, this is the biggest, most poisonous, most damaging, and most poorly managed arsenal without end.
Last spring, lesson 101 on the pandemic was that once lockdown is rationally inevitable, now is the time to do it. The later you get up and actually press the button, the longer you have to lock yourself out, the more it will be punished economically and socially, and the more deaths there will be. We found out – or should have – many, many months ago.
Even if you are the kind of politician or individual who is – how do you put that? – more relaxed in the face of high death rates, you are probably concerned about the economy and social freedoms. So in short: what the hell are you doing? Why, over nine months after we first made this mistake, are you still asking for the same series of mistakes to be made and expecting a different result? As for the skeptics of parliamentary restraint, who are partly responsible for the length of our current lockdown, where are they now yelling about its prolonged misdeeds?
As time goes on, I hope the schools start returning in mid February and I am delighted to read Public Heath England stating that primary schools can be opened after mid term. But spare me the sleight of hand on the children of Mark Harper and Steve Baker of the so-called Covid Recovery Group (CRG). Has there ever been a misuse of language like this? You might as well call the Luftwaffe the East End Salvage Group. These guys are the pandemic-building cowboys. They turn your leaky pipe into a collapsed central heating system, then only tell you they can fix it.
In case they forgot, Mark and Steve & Co spent most of late fall and early winter raging a loud public war against any form of lockdown or restrictions – and Boris Johnson listened to them. So when are these people going to take some responsibility for the fact that schools ended up having to shut down because in the end the infection was so out of control that there was nothing else to do with it?
When will the ‘Covid Recovery Group’ take some responsibility for the fact that its unscientific objections to acting in a timely manner mean that we all have to pay a heavier and longer price in place of foreclosure? The answer, of course, is never. Because they exercise power without responsibility. They can apparently get the prime minister to do whatever they want, at least until things have improved so much that he has no choice but to turn around. Yet, while they are exactly the type to boast that people take responsibility for themselves, they never take it themselves. Personal responsibility is for the poor and the obese.
And that’s how we have to listen to people like Steve Baker say they don’t like the predictable and precisely predicted effects of things they spent in October, November, and December demanding. Let’s see, what is even Steve Baker doing on a Zoom feed? He should be standing in the freezing cold on the docks offering to fill out forms for fishermen on the verge of losing their business thanks to another of his brain waves.
Which brings us to the conclusion that the new goofy team is largely the same as the old goofy team. Many of the Brextremist European Research Group (ERG) staff have simply migrated to the CRG, and the rest of us are once again being trained for the ride. The decades-long enslavement of the UK to this relatively small number of conservative wingnuts reminds nothing more than Kingsley Amis’s relationship to his own libido. “For 50 years,” he said to himself, “it was like being chained to an idiot.”
• Marina Hyde is a columnist for The Guardian
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