Get me off this political u-turn merry-go-round ride - Laura Collins, YEP Editor
So today is the day. Monday, July 19 2021 – a date that has been etched into the minds of so many of us.
It is our so-called Freedom Day.
The day we were told, after more than 480 days of lockdown restrictions, that those measures we have been forced to live by would finally be eased as we look to complete our country’s Covid roadmap out of the pandemic.
Social distancing was set to become a thing of the past as the country starts to get back to “normal”.
Venues such as nightclubs that have been forced to keep their doors closed for more than a year now could finally reopen once more and the rules around facemasks were set to be eased.
The Government instead announced that the general public would be trusted to use their own judgement about what to do next.
Today is Judgement Day. Instead of being bathed in hope and optimism, there is a cloud of concern hanging over what stage four of the roadmap will mean.
And it comes on the back of a weekend of more Government merry-go-round u-turns about what is happening next.
The first struck those who had booked holidays to France as the rules around quarantine are changing. It comes on the back of swift changes to the grading of the Balearics, which is now on the amber list, meaning the rules around isolation when returning from those destinations are different.
It is a move that has placed many holidaymakers’ plans in turmoil as they were looking to jet off for a summer break to ease away the anguish of a torrid 18 months.
But the most telling u-turn over the weekend came after the news that the Prime Minister and Chancellor were not going to self-isolate following Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s positive test for Covid and would instead be part of a new testing pilot.
It was a bitter pill for the nation to swallow as concerns mount that the country could be plunged into a self-isolation crisis in the coming weeks as thousands are ‘pinged’ with close contact alerts from the NHS app.
Soon Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were forced to backtrack on their “trial” and confirm they would, in fact, self-isolate.
Figures obtained by the YEP last week revealed more people in Leeds were ‘pinged’ than anywhere else in the country two weeks ago.
To add further context, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has warned that the number of people being treated in hospital with Covid-19 could reach “quite scary” levels.
So as we awaken to a new dawn under Judgement Day, the calls for clarity are more important than ever before.
Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen far too many u-turns causing confusion and chaos.
Community testing, the rules around masks in schools, the cancellation of Christmas, early changes to local restrictions and scrapping return to work guidance to name a few.
We can’t afford for any more Government confusion to derail our efforts as we start travel towards our long-awaited freedoms.
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