In just a few days time the rules and laws that we’ve lived under since March 2020 will nearly all disappear. We’ll be free as birds. Hopefully the ones that don’t have avian flu.

Since Matt Hancock told us all to work from home last year (and then Boris told us the same thing but with more authority a few days later) our lives have been governed by draconian rules unseen outside of wartime. Whole sectors of the economy have been shut down entirely and the whole nation spent a whole chunk of last year under house arrest. But on Monday 19th July Boris Johnson will wave his legislative magic wand and, with some exceptions around travel, we can do WHATEVER WE FLIPPING WANT! Right?

*Brandishing clipboard* Some questions…

Sure, hit me. No, no, stay there, keep two metres away.

So the pandemic’s over, right?

Ah. Well. Funny you should ask… not exactly. Infections are through the roof, actually. Like, soaring. But, y’know, what can you do?

Wear a mask?

Um, ah.

So how bad will it get?

The government’s own predictions are that we’ll see the current wave peak in August at around 1,000 to 2,000 daily hospital admissions and 100 to 200 daily deaths. Some models are worse. We actually don’t really know.

Woah! That’s, like, a lot of dead people. Just so I can go down to Mahiki?

Yes, it’s pretty galling and the ‘freedom; chat doesn’t seem that inclusive to the thousands who are still to die as a result of covid. But there will be a significant peak regardless of the current unlocking, what will happen now is a hastening of the peak.

And that’s good because?

The longer we delay the peak the more likely it is that the covid peak will smash headlong into the flu season peak and create a perfect storm that could overwhelm the NHS. Chris Whitty has said that he thinks this is a sensible approach.

Grudgingly, that does kinda make some sense…

Thank you. I don’t actually make the rules here, I just relay them. And anyway, I’m also you, don’t forget. This is all written by me, including your bits.

Don’t burst the bubble. Tell me about Holland…

Yes, the Dutch PM just had to go on telly and apologise for unlocking too soon. To be fair the Dutch have fewer vaccinated that we do, plus it sounds like they went completely mad with the freedom, something the government here have, belatedly, tried to discourage…

Hardly instilling confidence. Okay, so what will change on Monday?

Firstly you won’t have to wear a mask any more by law. You can wander round an empty superstore without looking like you’re about to perform surgery. But you can also pack yourself into a crowded Northern Line car with 500 sweaty commuters, and this is when Boris is hoping to high heaven that you’ll exercise some common sense and wear a mask. Or work from home.

Didn’t he just drop the work from home mandate?

Yes, but he also said that he doesn’t expect everyone to be back in the office at the same time and envisions some kind of a drift back to normality rather than a big bang.

Try telling that to my boss…

Well that’s the thing, it’s all about personal responsibility. Your boss is entitled to bring his workforce back if he needs them, but also if you work in cramped conditions or maybe you’ve discovered that a WFH or hybrid system operates better then to decide not to. Boris wants to move the responsibility from the state to the individual here, which is no bad thing.

Except that people always, to borrow Prof Van-Tam’s phrase, ‘Tear the pants off it’

This is true, the reason we had the first lockdown is that the government’s, admittedly confusing, entreaties to personal responsibility back in February and March of 2020 were a complete failure.

But now we have the vaccine.

By 19th July, so called Freedom Day, everyone in the country will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, and the vast majority of the population will be double jabbed and virtually everyone who is vulnerable will be double vaccinated. This gives us a significant advantage over coronavirus.

And vaccine passports are in now?

Yes, in perhaps a surprise move the PM said that he’d like night-clubs and places where people are packed tightly to start asking to see the covid passes in our NHS apps. Which is quite a big u-turn. However, this won’t be the law…

So this is the new normal?

Basically yep. Let’s see what happens…


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