Last year millions of people missed out on Christmas parties because they were banned by the Government due to Covid. I am shocked and angry, but sadly not surprised, that there are reports that Christmas parties went ahead as normal at Downing Street. If millions of ordinary people can make the sacrifice to beat Covid, then why can’t the Tories?
This was yet another case of: “Do as I say, not as I do.” During the first lockdown, Dominic Cummings drove 260 miles to Durham. Then Matt Hancock was caught on CCTV kissing the aide he was having an affair with. Then Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tried to wriggle out of isolating after the new Health Secretary tested positive for Covid. More recently, we’ve all seen pictures of Johnson not wearing his mask in a hospital. There is a theme. Rules are for other people, not this Tory government and their friends.
People who have diligently followed every regulation, including the rules that seemed at times to be contradictory, are no doubt angry at reports that Downing Steet staff enjoyed a Christmas party while the rest of us were locked down and banned from seeing family and friends. Now we are approaching another pandemic Christmas. While there are nowhere near the same number of restrictions facing us this year, it seems sensible for the Government to lead by example by wearing masks in public.
Rachael Burford, Political reporter
Lifting Covid restrictions was a sordid gamble
In his Editor’s Reply last week, Ross Lydall wondered why the remaining restrictions were all suddenly lifted in July (with no further action by the Government, or advice given to contain the spread of the virus, and no Plan B declared or put in place).
The answer is obvious. The action was a gamble, and was entirely and sordidly political in its motivation. To save face and credibility, the Government simply had to do it, having already “denied us our promised freedom” in June. The nurturing of the modern myth that “the jab” is a magic bullet guaranteed to make us all completely safe and able to cast off our masks went hand-in-hand with it.
Add the whining of big business (particularly aviation) about its profits and it’s hard to see what else could have happened. For me, it was nothing short of a gross dereliction by those in charge of their duty to keep us safe. We may still pay the price for it too.
I understand the need to protect and restore the economy — we all need jobs — but the messaging from “freedom day” was all wrong. Now we find ourselves in another mess, with Covid ripping through schools and the unvaccinated filling our intensive care units. The only positive sign is an increase in mask-wearing on the Tube, after the Government belatedly saw sense. But the law on masks should never have been abandoned in the first place.
Ross Lydall, Health editor
TfL crisis is not commuters’ fault
David Leonard’s attitude in last week’s letters page, blaming Londoners for the TfL crisis, is a dangerous one. People are right to keep working from home if they wish in the face of a new Covid variant. The issue is underfunding. Transport is key and shouldn’t be ran in the interest of executives’ bonuses and pay checks.
We need to be stricter on masks
The Government has now made it mandatory to wear masks on public transport and in shops. But this is not happening with many members of the public. People get away with it because of the “unless you are exempt” part. Unless people who are genuinely exempt have some clear indication of this, the rule will continue to be flouted.