CHARLES GRAHAM: selfish rule flouters are mainly to blame for new wave of Covid infections and restrictions

I’ve never been averse to a bit of forward planning.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 9:15 am
It's no wonder infections are soaring if this scene from Soho is being replicated around the country

But when my daughter announced in the summer that she was getting married two years next October, I was tempted to say the philosophy was being taken a tad too far.

On reflection, especially now that months of new anti-Covid restrictions stretch ahead of us thanks to selfish idiots who don’t know how to keep their distance and think that life-saving rules are for mugs, it is not perhaps that remote a date to pen into the diary after all.

Who knows, it might even prove to be beset by lockdown nuisances even in 49 months’ time. I sincerely hope not.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Wigan's Chapel Lane testing centre had to stop taking new bookings because so many people were wanting tests as the infection spread again and the government system buckled under the pressure

But in the meantime, we have to hunker down and put up with a new series of restrictions on our liberties.

I must say I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the seemingly indiscriminate nature of some of the latest measures and perplexity, for instance, as to why the Government thinks that making pubs close an hour earlier will have any meaningful effect on curbing the infection rate. Indeed some are already suggesting that folk will just turn up sooner to get their skinful or decamp to more unregulated parties (and therefore further increase the risk of picking something up) after the new chucking-out time.

But while I do think the testing and tracing system has gone badly wrong already, I do have some sympathy for the Government as far as what measures now need to be taken to prevent a second wave.

A full lockdown would cause so much damage to the economy that many predict it would lead to more deaths than Covid through poverty and suicide. So, for the time being, they have to do some tinkering that keeps at least some people apart in the hope that it will bring down that dreaded R number without anything more Draconican being imposed.

I think their intentions are honorable, just as those are of the opposition. They all want the best for this country.

It’s not as if some other governments, which have been praised in the past for their supposed better handling of the crisis, are doing much better now with suppressing a second wave or with testing and tracing for that matter.

Some folk point to figures such as those showing there hasn’t been a single Covid-related death in Wigan since early July, but we have to listen to the scientists who say this could dangerously lull us into a false sense of security and that unchecked infection among younger people (at present harbouring the majority of coronavirus cases) would eventually spread with deadlier effect to the older and more vulnerable again.

So we’ve somehow just got to stick with that Dunkirk spirit for months longer. And everyone should realise that if they had obeyed the less stringent rules that have been in place over a recent weeks, they wouldn’t be having to put up with tougher ones again now.

While my daughter has her long-term plans, it’s my son I feel sorrier for. He’s meant to be starting on an exciting new adventure at university this weekend. But for his £9,000 a year tuition fees he’s going to get seven hours a week of lectures on Zoom, while being confined to a bubble on a corridor of six people.

Freshers Week is going ahead but it’s going to be a very muted affair compared to any other years’, and the chance to make new friends, find new interests and explore his new home city will be severely curtailed, just like it will be for thousands of other 18-year-olds.

There were some encouraging noises coming from our chief scientists this week about the possibility of a vaccine’s being available for some people before Christmas.

But let’s not get too carried away. There is a lot that can happen - and go wrong - before this hoped-for panacea comes our way.