Freedom Day - Delayed


Freedom Day - Delayed

Image by BBC News

By Mayfield - London, Monday 21st June 2021

Freedom Day, Delayed

This week – beginning Monday June 21st - was supposed to be Freedom Week, the week when it all ended - when the COVID curse was lifted and life returned to normal.     

It didn’t work out that way, of course. The government, looking to ease pressure on the NHS, decided to postpone Freedom Day so as to allow the rollout of second vaccine doses.

Should we trust the government that the lockdown will be a thing of the past come July 19? Speaking shortly after the Prime Minister announced the postponement of Freedom Day 1, Michael Gove sought to give the government a way out, warning that the end of lockdown might be further delayed in the event of ‘something unprecedented and remarkable’. If you’ve read a newspaper anytime in the past five years, you’ll know that unprecedented and remarkable events have not been in short supply lately.

And they’re off!

So, why is it proving so difficult to set an end date?

To paraphrase Dr Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to the US president, the virus is currently in a race with the vaccine.

For those of you who’ve forgotten whatever biology you learnt in school: a virus is essentially a bundle of genetic matter without cells of its own. For this reason, a virus must seek out cells to colonise if it is to survive and reproduce. In order to outsmart the human immune system and remain viable, COVID must mutate, and mutate rapidly.

Which means that eradicating coronavirus is the equivalent of shooting at a target that’s not only moving, but constantly changing shape.

For the time being, we’ll have to remain vigilant, as the virus finds new ways to outsmart man and nature. For this reason, fresh outbreaks of COVID will probably become a fixture of news bulletins in the years ahead. Scientists have already warned of a winter lockdown, as declining temperatures lead to a new surge in cases. (Click here if you feel like putting yourself in a bad mood).

So when will it be over?

By now the public is resigned to the fact that there will be no sudden end to the COVID era. There will be no VE Day-style crowds dancing in the fountains of Trafalgar Square as they cast off their facemasks and finally cough with impunity. (How many revellers came down with flu in the aftermath of VE Day, we wonder? Surely one of history’s great superspreader events.)

Normality, or something like it, will return, but gradually.      

With civil servants insisting on a ‘hybrid approach’, don’t expect to simply pick up where we left off.

Plus, certain lockdown habits are likely to stick. Relatively few customers dazzled by the ease of shopping online will want to return to the ordeal of wheeling a wobbly trolley around a supermarket in person, for example.

Likewise, businesses, having gathered reams of data on their customers during the COVID era, may be reluctant to return to pre-COVID retail models.

Freedom Day will come – but COVID will leave an indelible mark on the world.