OPINION - The Standard View: Before we move on from Covid-19, we must learn its lessons

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Before we move on from Covid-19, we must learn the lessons of it. Tens of thousands of leaked WhatsApp messages only underline the importance of getting to the facts of the matter as quickly and thoroughly as possible. That is what the independent public inquiry must do.

Labour has called for it to report by the end of this year. Speed is of the essence, but it is not clear that such an expedited timeline is possible or desirable. Covid, and the enormous, all-Government response to it, will invariably take time and care to untangle. We must get it right.

What is clear from the text messages, and from much of what was already in the public domain, is that major elements of the pandemic response, particularly in those crucial first few months, were scattered and chaotic.

Rather than relying on leaks, people who lost most — loved ones, education and businesses — deserve the truth. That will be painstaking and must focus on preparedness, the interaction between scientists, ministers and the operational capacity of Whitehall.

We ought to hold all participants to account and ensure that when the next pandemic arrives, the British people are better protected.

Pain of teacher strikes

Young people lost out on enough education as a result of Covid lockdowns to last a lifetime. That is why today’s teachers’ strikes are so damaging.

Yet industrial action is gathering momentum. Three-quarters of schools in London were estimated to be entirely or partially closed as members of the National Education Union walked out over pay. Consequently, more than 750,000 children were expected to be disrupted, and the capital is the worst-affected region in the country.

Further teaching strikes are set for March 15 and 16. The Government must step up. We’ve called for treating public sector demands on a case-by-case basis. Pay is a vital component, both to help end industrial action in schools and to ensure teacher recruitment and retainment keep up with demand. Drift and disruption are not an option so both sides must come to an agreement.

Moped crime terror

Moped and e-bike crimes can be terrifying — every week, an average of 180 people are attacked for their valuables. One victim was bundled screaming into a side road in central London after muggers saw her watch.

Our special report, in which Evening Standard journalists joined the Met’s Operation Venice squad on patrol, brings home the need for a major crackdown on these sorts of offences. While most violent crimes have fallen in the capital, robbery has risen by 19 per cent in the year to February. A quarter of offences involved a knife.

Victims should call the police, who in turn must work more closely with dealerships selling bikes popular with thieves and make it harder for criminals to get away.