The price of freedom
19 July 2021
It’s an important day today in the story of the pandemic – the reason why this website came into being, after all, to monitor its impact on the hire industry.
As reported here on 6 July, restrictions in England are being removed today, which was originally dubbed Freedom Day. The shift is from legal controls and prohibitions to personal responsibilities and judgements whether to continue measures like wearing a mask and socially distancing.
Scotland is easing restrictions to Level 0 of controls, meaning pubs and restaurants can open until midnight, but limits on outdoor meetings remain, the return of workers to offices is delayed and face coverings are still mandatory.
Restrictions are set to be relaxed in Wales on 7 August and in Northern Ireland on 26 July.
However, coronavirus cases are rising sharply: on Friday and Saturday last week, daily cases exceeded 50,000 for the first time since mid-January.
The NHS Covid-19 app is contacting many people telling them to self-isolate for ten days as they have come into contact with someone infected. This is severely affecting everyone from office staff and shop workers, to hauliers and teachers – and no doubt hire and construction professionals.
Fears have been expressed about disruptions to transport, shop deliveries and the health service.
Most ironically, prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak have themselves been ‘pinged’ by the app, having been in contact with health secretary Sajid Javid who now has the virus. All are self-isolating on the very day when lockdown restrictions are being removed.
Why the increase in cases? The Delta variant of Covid-19, first detected in India, is infecting more people. And mass events - designated ‘testers’ by the government - such as the Euro 2020 football finals , the Wimbledon tennis championships and yesterday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, have brought more people into closer proximity.
Previously the spread of the virus has been controlled by the blunt instrument of lockdowns. Now the emphasis is being placed on vaccination as the way to protect people.
It’s the role of the blog to record these developments for posterity rather than to judge them. But today was planned as a positive milestone and the start of a new chapter in the Covid-19 story. Instead, there is still much uncertainty and people must remain vigilant.
Picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay