Patrick O’Flynn Patrick O’Flynn

Boris Johnson needs to get a grip

Boris Johnson (photo: Getty)

It’s pointless to deny that the government is currently performing poorly across a wide range of fronts – and I say that as someone who voted Conservative with enthusiasm in December and who wishes the government well.

Despite the shrill claims of some, the onset of an epidemic of a horrible new disease would clearly have been testing for any administration – which largely explains why some things are coming apart at the seams.

But another highly damaging factor is now at work: the rolling out of obviously half-baked ‘blunt instrument’ policies that have not been subject to even the most basic of sensible refinements.

For instance, the policy of imposing quarantine on international arrivals – rejected by the government in the days before the virus got out of control – is now steadfastly advanced by ministers as being essential to stop the virus getting out of control again.

Unfortunately, the government is preparing a wholly unselective quarantine system. Nearly every person coming into the UK from another country will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including UK nationals returning from abroad.

So someone flying home long-haul from New Zealand, which all-but eradicated Covid-19 many weeks ago, will be subject to the same restrictions as someone hot-footing it here from a favela in Rio de Janeiro, where the disease is rife.

Surely it is perfectly obvious that a selective quarantine regime, focusing on arrivals from those countries with a higher current incidence of the disease than the UK, is the way to go. This could contribute to the overall public health effort without causing frankly ridiculous levels of extra damage to our already-ailing economy.

Another example can be found in the government’s decision to make mask-wearing mandatory on public transport. If ever there was a policy that should have come with a sunset clause attached it is this.

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