Freedom day

The depressing spectacle of ‘freedom day’

It was billed as ‘freedom day’. Yet few people, it seems, either want to enjoy their new-found freedom or are able to enjoy it. The Prime Minister won’t be going clubbing; he is one of several hundred thousand people – it was 336,000 in the week to 7 July – who have been ordered to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace in the past few days. These are in addition to the half a million people ‘pinged’ by the NHS contract tracing app who have been asked to self-isolate, although in their case it is not a legal requirement. For these people, it is no freedom day – it is

Robert Peston

How ‘freedom day’ became ‘chaos day’

Welcome to ‘freedom day’, or more properly ‘chaos day’ – with businesses warning they can’t operate because too many employees are being ‘pinged’ and told to isolate, and the clinically extremely vulnerable terrified to leave their homes for fear no one will be wearing a mask. The funny thing is that all this madness was foreseeable. Because, as the PM himself said only a week ago, the surge in infections is almost exactly what his epidemiological advisers on Sage have been forecasting. But the government is behaving as though all this mess is just an accident, one of those things. It wasn’t. It was the choice of Boris Johnson and


Watch: clubbers celebrate the beginning of ‘freedom day’

It’s been a long pandemic for young people – who’ve had their lives put on hold to prevent the spread of a disease which mainly affects the elderly. So one can certainly sympathise with those wanting to let their hair down as Covid restrictions were lifted last night for ‘freedom day’. That certainly seemed the case in London, where one nightclub even featured a count-down timer to the end of the restrictions, with balloons being released as freedom day began. Clubs, which had been decimated by the lockdown restrictions, were finally able to open legally for the first time last night. Mr S can only wish those young people all

Has Boris got cold feet over ‘freedom day’?

A very strange ‘freedom day’ greets us on Monday. Legally, almost all restrictions will be lifted. But practically, ministers are deeply worried by the surge of the Indian variant and the rise of hospitalisations to around 600 a day — a figure that will probably double according to the Bristol University PCCF project (which we at The Spectator find to be the most reliable). Hence this massive fudge: the government abolishing the mask mandate but saying it ‘expects’ people to wear them in shops and crowded spaces nonetheless. The NHS will continue to mandate them in hospitals. Then perhaps the biggest surprise: the vaccine passport U-turn whereby companies are told

Sajid Javid says restrictions could return after ‘freedom day’

In another sign of the government’s more cautious approach to the July 19 unlocking, Sajid Javid has just told the Commons that government guidance will encourage large venues to use ‘certification’ – in other words, proof of vaccination or a negative test – to determine who is admitted, that those working from home should return to their offices gradually and that masks will be expected to be worn on public transport. This guidance is, obviously, not the same as law but it is a clear sign that the government wants people to carry on behaving cautiously after July 19. It is a long way away from any kind of ‘freedom

Are ministers prepared for ‘freedom day’?

Is the government having a wobble over ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July? Well, for one thing you won’t hear ministers talking about ‘Freedom Day’ over the next week. Instead, they are preferring to focus on the need for people to be very cautious, given the soaring numbers of cases and hospitalisations. When he appeared on Times Radio this morning, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi talked far more about what would still be ‘expected’ of people after 19 July than about how the roadmap was working and how nice it was for life to be returning to normal. For him, this date seems to be more ‘Be very careful day’. For Nadhim

Follow the science – it’s time to unlock

Shortly before Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer were slugging it out in PMQs — debating whether the mass-lifting of restrictions on 19 July is indeed a good idea — the Office for National Statistics released their latest antibody survey, the details of which support the Prime Minister’s argument for reopening. It is now estimated that roughly nine in ten adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had antibodies in the week beginning 14 June (eight out of ten in Scotland). Moreover, antibody prevalence is on the rise in younger age groups. The percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies aged 35 and older ranges between 94 per cent and 99 per

Boris’s ‘freedom day’ spells misery for many

The projection from Sajid Javid that Covid-19 infections could surge to a record 100,000 per day in a few weeks, as all social distancing and mask-wearing regulations are removed, is especially terrifying for those whose immune systems are impaired or are clinically vulnerable in other ways. There are millions of these frail people. For those whose immune systems are compromised or suppressed, the efficacy of vaccines is much reduced. For others among the frail, any residual risk of becoming infected is too great, because for them it is literally a matter of life or death. So when you hear politicians and others talking about the important freedom to choose not

The cost of delaying ‘freedom day’

When Boris Johnson announced that unlocking would be guided by ‘data not dates’ he handed detractors ample scope for derision and defiance. In the four months since, lockdown critics have rightly insisted that he uphold the slogan and accelerate a roadmap, designed to move at such a glacial speed, that it risked fraying the DNA of our economy and permanently crushing our joie de vivre.  Why did we spend Easter isolated from loved ones? April in wintry beer gardens? Why did we roll out the vaccine at phenomenal pace only to keep restrictions in place as the number of Covid deaths hit single digits? Contrary to expectation, however, that mantra