We’ll get over Covid when we forget about yesterday, move into today and plan for tomorrow

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It seems like only yesterday that I was being told that Covid was no longer a threat, case numbers were minimal and the link between cases and hospitalisation and deaths had been broken. But yesterday, as someone once noted, was when, at least for some, our troubles seemed so far away and now it looks as if they are here to stay.

I am not one of those longing for that yesterday. That is because that yesterday involved an act of deliberate denial. As was all too obvious to some, the reality was that our troubles never went away. They could have done, but they did not. And the reason for that was that we have a government that promoted denial to further its own political gains.

It chose to let the delta variant into the UK knowing that open travel to India would inevitably have this consequence.

It chose to tell the country that reopening was inevitable, and irreversible when it was already apparent that there was nothing inevitable about reopening and that any such attempt to do so was likely to be short lived, as is now the case.

The government also chose, despite all the warnings, to miss opportunities to restrict mass spreading of the disease by properly ventilating schools, keeping masks in place in them and by properly testing, tracing, and supporting those impacted. Instead it chose to deliberately let the disease spread.

That the UK’s position on Covid is so aberrational is not chance. The demand for ‘freedom’, echoed (and no doubt soon to be denied) by the prime minister in his rhetoric on reopening has simply been a demand to have the right to infect others. It is as such the antithesis of real freedom.

It will also deliver the opposite of the economic growth that to which those proposing that ‘freedom’ supposedly aspire. There are already reports of companies like Nissan being crippled by the number of staff off work because of delta. The same is true in hospitality and the NHS will probably only keep going because its very vulnerable staff will be turning their Covid apps off at work to minimise the risk of being told of having to quarantine.

All these possibilities were obvious to anyone willing to see. If it was all too easy for me to read about what was happening and come to the conclusion of this being a likelihood then there can be no excuse for the government having not done so. It really is that easy to point blame.

Establishing blame does not solve anything though, even if I hope that one day it will make the trials for negligence easier to pursue. What matters now is that action be taken.

Masks need to remain.

So does working from home.

And support for those shielding.

There has to be support for those required to quarantine.

And test and trace has to be brought under NHS control, once and for all, with all the cronyism swept aside.

International travel has to still be constrained.

And we should now be considering the places where mass spreading now so obviously takes place - which are most especially schools and universities - and think about what can be done to change their physical environments to make them safe places to be. Covid is airborne. The ventilation in such places has to change to make the supply of education a safe activity again.

Then the need to transform other communal space, by providing grants and other support, has to be next on the agenda, with the idea that the new normal is not the same as the old, and that much needs rethinking being a clear part of the message that has now to be delivered.

Longing for yesterday has been the government’s policy. But yesterday was another country, another time, and another way of life that is no more. We have to appreciate that, and then adapt to it.

How many must die, be ill, or have long Covid before that is understood? How much damage to the economy, to jobs, to hopes, to well-being must there be before a message of adaptation is adopted? How much harm must be done by those demanding the freedom to abuse? When will we realise that it is only though change that we as a species have got to where we are and that change is demanded of us now, albeit that the change in question is, in the grand scheme of things, really rather small?

I wish I could answer those questions, because when we can we can solve this crisis. It seems we cannot as yet. Regret remains in play. Yesterday’s thinking predominates. We need to move into today so that we might think about tomorrow. Then we have a chance. I just hope we can grab it.