Boris Johnson did not use the same language as French president Emmanuel Macron, who said that he intended to — using a polite translation — “frustrate” the unvaccinated.
But in a Downing Street press conference last night, the Prime Minister warned the British public that a booster dose would likely soon be necessary for international travel, as it will be for domestic Covid passports.
The reality must be dawning on the unvaxxed that the freedoms (and significant health protection) enjoyed by the fully vaccinated will not be extended to them. If you want to travel, go to a nightclub or simply stay out of an intensive care unit, you need to get a jab.
The other side of the Covid coin is isolation and the knock-on effect that staff absences are having across the capital, from the NHS to transport services.
At present, roughly one million people are self-isolating. The Government is expected to announce that those who receive a positive lateral flow test result will no longer have to take a PCR test. Currently, this postpones the formal start of isolation and therefore extends the period people are forced to stay at home.
On the condition that scientific evidence backs up this approach — and that people who test positive still follow the rules for at least seven days — this should help reduce the impact of 2022’s version of the “pingdemic”.
Yet with Omicron spreading fast across the country, disruption is inevitable. Nevertheless, we must keep critical services running, both for our health service and the wider economy.
Only today, Southeastern rail announced it is rolling out a reduced timetable due to Covid-related staff shortages, following Southern’s cancellation of all services to Victoria. We cannot recover economically without a functioning transportation network.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said yesterday the worst of the pandemic is “absolutely behind us”, and learning how to live with the virus is “going to be the critical next step”.
The disruption of the last few weeks and the threat of more to come suggests that this will be a mighty undertaking.