We won’t beat Covid by channelling Churchill | Coronavirus outbreak
I, like so many others, am slack-jawed at the incompetence of this government’s response to Covid. Our death rate is terrible and the continued mixed messages from “go to work as you are less likely to be sacked if you are in the office/don’t go to work” and “eat out to help out/don’t eat out, certainly not after 10pm” have exhausted the public and make compliance more unlikely.
And now Boris Johnson insinuates that we have a worse death rate than many countries in Europe because we are “freedom loving” (Follow new Covid restrictions, or risk a second lockdown, Johnson warns, 22 September). I would be so grateful if he could stop this faux Churchillian tub-thumping with pernicious Brexit undertones, hinting that we are better than all of Europe because we love freedom more (the inference being that that is why we have voted to leave all those rule adherents behind). Let’s see how “freedom loving” the prime minister thinks we all are when there are queues of 7,000 trucks in Kent in January as Michael Gove now warns.
Like the vast majority of people, I will adhere to all the new regulations, but every time I am unable to do something I would have normally done I will think how unfair it is when government aides can test their eyesight with trips to Barnard Castle and not face a single penalty. I’d suggest that more than being “freedom loving” the British public have a far higher regard for fair play.
Buckhurst Hill, Essex
• Boris Johnson has again stated that we should rely on our common sense to slow the increase in infections of Covid-19. But common sense is highly subjective. Mine tells me that the government’s initial response in March should have exploited our natural advantage as an island nation by immediately closing the borders to non-UK residents, quarantining residents returning from overseas, and beginning testing in the community. Perhaps if common sense looked more like decisive action, we wouldn’t now be in such a quandary over whether to protect public health or the economy. It seems increasingly impossible to protect both.
• Lockdown can work if managed properly, but Johnson’s government hasn’t done that. We need to learn lessons from Australia and New Zealand which have, on the whole, managed it well. The debacle in Melbourne proves that. The other Australian states virtually eliminated the virus by locking down hard and enforcing quarantine for incoming travellers. Victoria handed the job to private security firms who made a mess of it. Now, after a second lockdown, to which most Victorians have responded well, if bad-temperedly, it seems pretty certain that the whole country will soon be as Covid-free as is possible without a vaccine. If hospital admissions and death rates in the UK soar, and we have to enter a second lockdown (Matt Hancock: Britain is at coronavirus tipping point, 20 September), it needs to be for all four nations and accompanied by strict bio-security measures for people entering the country – repatriations and essential travellers only. We have the advantage of being an island, but have so far failed to make use of it.
• Reading your letters page (22 September) one has to think the world has started to go slightly mad. Readers extolling armed police at roadblocks asking to check our papers before allowing us to proceed (or not – with the threat of imprisonment if we do not comply), and alarms on front gates to ward us from leaving our own homes. Can’t we simply adopt the Swedish model, do our best to protect the most vulnerable, and let life return to as close to normal as it can, without at the same time surrendering our rationality along with our liberty?
Dr David Boyd Haycock