Britain is cursed by a government of unpleasant and inconsiderate people acting in the interests of unpleasant and inconsiderate people.
It has proved this with its decision to drop mask mandates. This, to me, demonstrates that the people ministers really seem to care about are the fly tippers, the people who leave dog mess to fester in public parks, the litterers, and especially the Covid deniers on social media, some of whom have elbowed their way into the mainstream media. That’s what an education at Eton does for you.
“We’re leaving it up to the public’s good judgment,” the government declared. Amoral they may be. Stupid they ain’t. They know that this is a green light to the anti vaxxers and the deniers, who go into hospitals, cameras at the ready, to upset staff who have been on 12 hour shifts caring for the dying. These people don’t understand the concept of good judgement and they’ll drag a lot of others along with them.
Here’s what we know: you should wear a mask in enclosed public spaces. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the public spirited thing to do. It will afford you some protection but, more to the point, it will protect the people around you.
If everybody takes this step, the case count will be lower, the people still vulnerable even after their shots (because we know they are not perfect) will stand a better chance of being able to enjoy their lives without worrying about a trip to hospital being the end result of a bus ride. Scientists and doctors have said as much. Repeatedly.
The best of it is that the dangerous gamble of dropping all restrictions on 19 July with infections booming could still have been accomplished with mask mandates remaining in place. Do as you please, just wear a mask until we get this licked. It’s a simple, easy to understand message, and it makes sense. Andrew Lloyd Webber would still be able to throw open the doors of his theatres for his musicals. Just with masks. Music venues would be able to treat us to the joy of live shows again. But with masks. And so on.
As it is, organisations have been told to adopt their own policies. And you know how that goes. Mr Bigmouth, who thinks the stuff posted by conspiracy mongering yobbos on Facebook is news, had a hard enough time accepting wearing a mask in Asda when it was a government requirement. Now it’s up to the “judgement” of people and organisations. Mr Bigmouth is just going to give the bird to those who enact sensible policies to protect other customers, as well as, and this can’t be stressed enough, their workers. Those working in supermarkets, and other places open during lockdown, have been asked to leave themselves open to far too much risk through the course of the pandemic as it is.
A government mandate would also likely sway a middle group of basically decent people inclined to go with the flow to the extent that they’ve been wearing face coverings when required but mightn’t bother to do so now.
Let’s talk liberties for a moment. I was going to say civil liberties but the right wing gallery of grotesques the government likes to play to aren’t very civil and neither is Boris Johnson, who boasts a nasty streak of authoritarianism behind the bluster. It’s interesting to note that he and his colleagues don’t often use the word “civil”.
There are people who complain that mask mandates infringe upon them. But even if that’s true, the infringement is so infinitesimally small it’s barely noticeable by fully paid up members of the human race: people who recognise that we endure any number of minor restrictions for the sake of safety and our fellow citizens. You drive a car, you wear a seatbelt or your get fined. So do your passengers. You go on a building site and you are going to be told to wear a hard hat. There’ll be goggles as well, if you’re in the vicinity of sparks produced by welding or corrosive chemicals. Ever been in a lab? I have. You wear a white coat there (partly because of the latter). If you walk your dog in a park you may risk a fine if you don’t pick up its waste. Ditto littering. See where I’m going with this?
All of these minor infringements on “liberty” are there to either keep you and others safe or to ensure the environment is protected. Most people put up with them willingly because they recognise the value of doing so. Wearing a mask when a killer virus is spreading – and at an alarming rate – is no different. And it could save someone’s life.
After presiding over the deaths of more than 150,000 of their countrymen and women you’d think that would count for something with the unruly rabble in power. But apparently they’re shooting for gold in the European Championships of killing one’s own citizens. They’re playing like the red hot favourites to win it, too.