Despite nearly 50,000 new confirmed cases daily and a rising pace of infection, despite 1,200 physicians backing a letter to The Lancet medical journal warning that “this decision is dangerous and premature,” and “provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants,” and a call “to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19, 2021,” the UK government went ahead with what was dubbed the “Freedom Day,” where nearly all Covid restrictions have been lifted. People in the UK are now permitted to cram bars, restaurants, entertainment halls, sports events, and gather however and wherever they want without any limits. Even masks are no longer mandatory in Covid-ridden England (albeit with few severe cases).
I have been to bars on the British Isles; I know what it’s like there. These places are jam-packed, and people literally stand shoulder to shoulder because there is no room. Without masks, these places will undoubtedly become Covid hotbeds.
I understand that it is tough to avoid things you like for so long, and people need to unwind. But what if Covid does not go away? What if, as the physicians’ letter warns, a vaccine-resistant variant appears, with a high mortality rate, and there is no vaccine to protect from it? What would the government do? Would it not impose restrictions, and probably far worse than Britons had to bear until a few days ago? The government would have no choice but to cut out people’s joys and freedoms slice after slice, until none of it is left. Eventually, it would have to give money to people just so they can get the bare minimum to sustain themselves. Bar and restaurant owners will end up with nothing, and they will also have no future since there will be no vaccine to give them hope that at some point, they will be able to reopen their businesses. For this reason, I see no benefit in this decision.
But there is another, more important issue here: Such a move reflects the poor state of solidarity in the world. The virus may have started in China, but since then, it has mutated several times and now we’re being infected with a strain that first appeared in India. Covid knows no borders; once it appears, it is omnipresent. We may not like it, but we are responsible for one another. Currently, we think of other countries only in terms of how we can exploit them, harm them, and govern them. This has to change because if it doesn’t, that ill-will that’s emerging from within us will put us all to death.
Covid-19 is a sign that we must begin to make decisions with other people’s benefit in mind, and not just the benefit of some people, but of all the people, since, as we already know, an infection anywhere is an infection everywhere. There needs to be a governing body of world experts that will keep in mind the benefit of the entire world, and this body will decide what is right for the planet, and what is not.
The current time is special; we need to work with it correctly. We need to seize the moment and begin to be more considerate, to decide together what to do against our common foe. And once we decide, we must act on it together.
We can wait; we can be doubtful, but the result will be our own demise, if not in this wave, then in the next. Nature is leaving us no options but to band together and fight for our lives. We can achieve this, but only if we give this government of experts the required authority to do what it takes to save humanity from Covid, and basically from our own ill-will toward each other.
In the current situation, we are worse than any animal. When there is a forest fire, animals stop hunting one another and everyone focuses on escaping. You might even see natural enemies running side by side away from the flames. Not so are people: We try to demolish other people and nations even while we’re running from a common threat, such as a virus, and even when doing so may put us in danger, such as the case with the “Freedom Day.” We are devoid of the instinct that keeps animals alive, so unless we develop it ourselves, we will not survive. It’s as simple as that, and the sooner we understand it, the fewer unneeded casualties we will have to mourn.
PA via Reuters People dancing in Bar Fibre in Leeds, after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021