A message to anti-lockdown protesters and Covid-deniers

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Like me, you were probably eager for 2020 to finish. And, like me, you might have hoped for a bright new start to 2021. But as the new year approached, I realised that I had been extremely naive to think that things would get better. Both Essex and Buckinghamshire authorities declared major incidents in their counties as virus rates surged. At the same time, news came out that hospitals in Kent had run out of intensive care beds, so patients were being transported to other parts of the country. And on 4 January, it was announced that patients would also be moved from London hospitals, as the capital struggled to cope with patient numbers.

There are currently over 86 million confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the world. Of course, this figure is a gross underestimate, because access to testing varies across the world, and in the UK, many of us who had the virus in the first half of 2020 had no way of being tested. Almost 2 million people have died so far. In the UK, we haven’t yet reached our next peak. Rates are still rising rapidly. Your county could very soon find itself struggling to cope, just like London, Kent, Buckinghamshire and Essex.

No, coronavirus is not a hoax

Despite the blatant evidence that we’re now completely overwhelmed by the virus, coronavirus conspiracy theorists continue to insist that it’s all a hoax. In the UK, conspiracy stickers have appeared in towns, and protesters have even started demonstrating outside hospitals where people are dying of Covid:

Read on...

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Others have been photographing allegedly empty hospital corridors to try to prove that we’re being lied to, and that hospitals aren’t actually overwhelmed by the pandemic. This is an insult to every NHS worker who risks their life on a daily basis, and it can surely only worsen the pain for those who have lost people they love to the virus.

Meanwhile, major cities around the world, from London to Toronto, have seen anti-lockdown protests. Of course, being anti-lockdown doesn’t necessarily mean that you think that Covid is a hoax. But while protesting, demonstrators have disregarded measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, that would help prevent the spread of the virus.

At every step, the government has acted terribly

Pretty much all of us on the left would agree that the government has acted criminally throughout the pandemic, from inadequate PPE leading to the deaths of health workers, to denying that schools needed to be closed. Its course of action – or rather inaction – has been to keep the capitalist status-quo intact. It doesn’t want to provide state funds to us working class millions, and if it had its way, it would continue its years-long policy of draining the NHS of all funding. Coronavirus has been a massive inconvenience for the Tories.

The government was too slow to call for a lockdown back in March 2020, while its November semi-lockdown and subsequent tier system were half-hearted attempts to look like it was at least doing something. The new announcement, that we’re all going into proper lockdown this time, only came after intense pressure from the National Education Union and collective action from teachers, refusing to go into schools.

Yes, the government is taking advantage of the pandemic

Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that the government hasn’t used the pandemic to its advantage. The NHS has suddenly been labelled affectionately by the Tories as “our NHS”. And of course, the government has also seized the opportunity to provide private companies with massive contracts worth millions, from Serco and its dire Test and Trace system, to Ayanda Capital, which was awarded £252.5m to supply face masks. And we know that companies like Pfizer are set to make billions in profits from Covid vaccines.

On top of this, while we have been preoccupied, the Tories have been busy granting themselves sweeping new powers. We all need to fight draconian laws coming into force, such as the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, and we need to stand up to increasing mass surveillance.

But it’s okay to be anti-state and obey a lockdown

Many of us who support social distancing measures are anti-state, or are at least critical of it.  And do you know what? It’s okay to be critical of the state and yet still obey a temporary lockdown.

You see, it’s about caring for our communities, especially for those who are most susceptible to getting seriously ill, or even dying from Covid. Imagine for a second that we lived in a society that was more radically democratic, where we weren’t ruled by the government, and where people made decisions at the grassroots level. Wouldn’t we come to a similar conclusion? That we would do all that we could to stop the spread of the virus and act for the collective good?

At the same time, we need to be vigilant during this lockdown, scrutinising the state at every step. And we need to look out for racialised policing, holding the police to account when they will inevitably target and fine BAME communities once again.

And it also means putting pressure on the state to ensure that people can survive a lockdown. This means ensuring statutory sick pay is raised to the real living wage, banning evictions, housing homeless people and ensuring all children have access to the technology they need to learn.

Being anti-lockdown is massively ableist

If you’re not willing to temporarily lockdown for a few weeks, or you’re against mask-wearing, then you’re being ableist. As you attend your anti-lockdown demonstrations (without a mask on, of course), you’re not thinking about those with chronic illnesses who are terrified for their lives. You’re not thinking about those who can’t leave their houses because if they catch Covid they will die. You’re not thinking about the elderly, stuck in care homes or isolated in their own homes, because they’re the most vulnerable. You’re not thinking about those with learning disabilities, who were found to be six times more likely to die during the first wave. You’re also not thinking about those whose urgent cancer treatment has to be put on hold because hospitals are too overwhelmed.

The Canary spoke to Ed Jones, who has a chronic illness and has been shielding since March. He said:

A quarter of people in the UK have pre-existing [health] conditions. There has been a lot of research showing that people with a wide range of conditions are more at risk of serious impacts, or even dying, from Covid. Denying the effects of Covid is deeply ableist, as it denies the lived experiences of disabled people in the UK. So many disabled people have struggled through this pandemic without support, while others have become even more disabled or died due to the virus.

We need to support each other

We do know by now that a lockdown comes at a massive cost. People’s mental health undeniably suffers, as more and more of us feel lonely, anxious and isolated.

So it’s up to all of us to think proactively about what we can do in our communities to help. All of us – anarchists, socialists and Covid-deniers alike – can agree on one thing: that the government has failed us. We can’t rely on it to look out for the most vulnerable people, so we need to continue to build the mutual aid networks that we formed during the first lockdown. We need to continue using our neighbourhood WhatsApp groups – or set them up – and check in with our neighbours. A sense of community will give people strength.

We shouldn’t call people out for not sticking to lockdown rules (aside from rich second home-owners, perhaps!) We need to trust that everyone will do what they can, to the best of their ability and that everyone’s emotional and physical needs are different. Lockdown may be the only option we have right now to deal with the pandemic but shaming people will only make individuals feel more isolated and alone.

I hope we will look back on this period as a time when we began to reconnect again, where we got to know our communities and stopped thinking only about ourselves. It’s not natural to live so individualistically. It is natural to care for our communities. This pandemic is, finally, waking us up to that.

Featured image via Eliza Egret

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  • Show Comments
    1. You did not mention Starmer and the 90% PLP Neolabour Tories roll on this, Any Labour Government is not better than a Conservative Government! We can’t support each other with a Dangerous, Divisive, Fear Mongering, Anti Free Speech LOTO and 90% like him!
      Blindfolding ourselves when running into a hornets’ nest is not going to hurt any less than running into the hornets’ nest in full view!
      We need to find common ground and stop criticising each other, the world has gone perfectly mad!

    2. “As you attend your anti-lockdown demonstrations (without a mask on, of course), you’re not thinking about those with chronic illnesses who are terrified for their lives. You’re not thinking about those who can’t leave their houses because if they catch Covid they will die. You’re not thinking about the elderly, stuck in care homes or isolated in their own homes, because they’re the most vulnerable.”
      Unfortunately, not so. I’ve read many anti-maskers saying things like this virus only affects the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Their attitude appears to be “Why should we care?”

    3. A very confusing article that, perhaps, sums up the Covid Crisis (?). The most pertinent point was the call for localised action with respect to the most vulnerable members of a community. Sensitivity to our neighbours situations and possible vulnerability goes without saying. Hopefully that attitude will extend beyond our immediate environment.
      However, even the nature of the article and some of the replies demonstrate the consequences of the UK’s response to this issue. Ridiculous generalisations of ‘people’s opinions’ based on a rigid conception of how anyone should behave in our present ‘situation’. So that any non-conformity gets labelled as ‘criminal insensitivity’ by the holier than thou brigade.
      It would be pointless to deny the existence of a virus named Covid and when we entered sclockdown in March of 2020 we did it in good faith. Locally, communities knew who was most vulnerable and when delivery couldn’t be arranged we shopped for each other. Meanwhile people in authority, faced with the consequential bed shortage that arose from Tory and New Labour’s NHS policy, moved POSITIVE Covid patients into care homes! The death rate in April of 2020 could be defined as institutional murder, however even that remains ‘provisional’ for the time being.
      Observing that the virus is deadly to those with pre-existing health conditions, which includes many of our oldest citizens is not saying that one doesn’t care about them. It is simply an accurate observation. Another accurate observation would be that over the two years 2018 and 2019 600,000 people died in each of those years; that is an average of 1600 people per day. I imagine that many of those people had underlying health issues and as a consequence were extremely vulnerable to influenza, so that when they died their death could have been attributed to that virus.
      ” death can be registered with both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate. Deaths where both were mentioned have been counted in both categories.”
      and
      “We use the term “due to COVID-19” or “due to Influenza and Pneumonia” when referring only to deaths where that illness was recorded as the underlying cause of death. We use the term “involving COVID-19” or “involving Influenza and Pneumonia” when referring to deaths that had that illness mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.” (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending25december2020)
      I’ve mentioned this before but I feel the need to express it once more – cases, cases everywhere but no-one there to think. In a society with a national reading age of NINE it is hardly surprising that most people wear ineffective masks, when wearing masks do not ‘social distance’, remain perplexed that local funeral firms are not overwhelmed or that body burners are not glowing during the long winter nights…

      1. I remember a few years back, public information broadcasts during the ‘flu season would advise us to use disposable tissues rather than handkerchiefs because, they said, by using a handkerchief continuously we were breathing the germs back in and prolonging the illness. I accept that wearing a mask may, at that moment, reduce the risk of me infecting someone else, but surely – if what they were telling us about flu and handkerchiefs was correct – by wearing a mask I am prolonging the virus’ stay in my body, asking more of my immune system and delaying my own recovery (if I’m asymptomatic, I’m also increasing the duration of my contagiousness). I’ll get me coat!

      2. It’s amazing that some people don’t seem to understand why “young people don’t take covid seriously”. Is it really that difficult to understand? I have 2 teenage children and on separate occasions, both have been excluded from school due to “contact” with a pupil who had tested positive for covid. The problem for the harbingers of doom is that – as with my children – when those excluded return to school, all the other kids want to know what having covid was like, and the answer in the overwhelming number of cases is “nothing, I wasn’t sick at all”. Most people know someone who’s died of cancer or heart disease or as the result of a stroke but very few people know someone who’s died from covid, although virtually everyone knows someone who’s had/tested positive for covid. Incidentally, I’d advise anyone who has a child excluded from school because of “contact” to really investigate what the “contact” entailed. In my first child’s case, the school’s explanation was very sketchy and when I pressed further, the best they could come up with was “might have passed each other in the corridor”. That child only served 4 days of their 14 day sentence after I explained to the head teacher that “might have passed in the corridor” didn’t constitute “contact” within the coronavirus regulations legal definition.

    4. Please stop conflating the terms ‘anti-vaccination’ and ‘covid denier’. And while your at it, stop the Piers Morgan-style dismissive generalisation of everyone who diverts from the official narrative. Some people are terrified of the virus. I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I think it doesn’t exist. I’m eligible for free flu vaccination but I don’t take it. That doesn’t mean I’m anti vaccination – if someone wants it they can have it but I don’t so I won’t. The same applies for the covid vaccine – I won’t be taking it (It disappoints me that The Canary is so fixed to the official line on Covid that it – like BBC, ITV, Sky, the Guardian etc. – fails to report the deaths and serious physical side effects that are being reported elsewhere as the Pfizer vaccine rolls out in Portugal, Norway, Mexico, Brazil and Israel, or that thousands of hospital workers in California and 30% of medical staff in New York are refusing to be vaccinated, while hospital workers in Texas are being offered $500 each to take the vaccine)

    5. The point I was trying (badly) to make is that the wearing of a face mask does not stop you from catching the Covid 19 virus. There may be some very very slight reduction in you giving the virus to someone by wearing a mask , however. The science community is divided on the issue. Also as an aside who discovered that this virus can only travel 1.9 metres so by staying 2 metres apart you don’t get it ? If we hadn’t ever gone metric would we now be saying stay 6 feet and 6. 74015748 Inches apart ? Or what about to stop catching covid in your house open the windows ? And my new favourite absurdity if I walk my dog near where I live like the local common which also has a golf course on it, I stand a much better. Chance of not getting or transmitting covid whereas if I drive 9 miles to a beach which is at least 6 miles long and mostly deserted I get stopped by the Tory private army known as the police and told I must return home !!! Just stop and look at what we are doing and why? Read some alternatives to this mess and then make your choice as to what is working and what isn’t and finally ask yourselves this could it be that the master race elites known as the government might just have made a pigs ear of their handling of this crisis so have made the decision to blame us for it spreading as it must be your and my fault

    6. Thank God that there are some other people who are awake, and calling out the B3llend who wrote this piece of compliant drivvle! As for the vaccine: Phizer have a long history of medical negligence and corruption, including having had to pay out the World record compensation package for one of their botches; the thing is largely untested on humans and when tried on some (vivisection is evil) animals, invariably produced severe side effects; is covered by a no come-back clause, meaning that when it does cause problematic reactions/death, there is nothing you can do, because the state has covered itself and the companies rolling these concoctions of God knows what out, aginst any law suits or compensation claims (ever heard of that before?) Is widely believed to contain nano-technology (don’t get me started!) and all this for a flu strain that the media coverage of which stinks to high heaven, whichever angle you look at it from (presuming that you’re not just another member of the gullible, easily led hordes, that is) and is accompanied on a daily basis by spurious claims and lies. That’s just the vaccine, I’ve covered! Chances of them getting anywhere near me with it? Similar to that of finding a hotdog stand in a synagogue! Wake up suckers, before it’s too late, and you end up bleating ”We should have listened to the awake people!”

      1. I rarely use the BBC as a news source as it is nothing more than a government stenographer. A couple of months back when “Pfizer is going to save Christmas” was in full voice, BBC online had a Pfizer promotion page which they called a vaccination Q&A page and one of the questions was “Is the vaccine safe to take during pregnancy?” The answer was that the vaccine hadn’t been tested on pregnant humans (I do get why they wouldn’t test on pregnant humans, though I doubt they’d care if they thought they could get away it, but I digress). Anyway, the long-winded advice was, basically,
        to not have the vaccine if you are pregnant or if you are planning to get pregnant in the next 3 months and if you suspect you might be pregnant after having the first dose of vaccine, don’t have the second. The BBC could have answered the question much more succinctly by saying “If you’re planning to bring a healthy child into the world any time soon, steer well clear of this sh!t”

    7. more from the Comment section of OffGuardian:

      WhoDidIt
      WhoDidIt
      Jan 12, 2021 11:09 PM

      PROOF THAT HOMES FOR THE AGED WERE TARGETED.

      The province of Ontario, Canada, has two types of homes for the aged:

      Long-term Care Homes, which are administered by the Ministry of Long-term Care, and
      Retirement Homes, which are administered by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.

      Retirement Homes are not required to provide the same level of care as Long-term Care Homes, however, many Retirement Homes are, in essence, Long-term Care Homes. Long-term Care Homes are largely government funded, whereas Retirement Homes are not. Long-term Care Homes are 54% privately run, and 46% government run. Retirement Homes are 100% privately run.

      There are about 627 (licensed) Long-term Care Homes in Ontario.
      There are about 770 (licensed) Retirement Homes in Ontario.

      There were Covid-19 outbreaks in 272 (43.4%) of the 627 Long-term Care Homes, till Apr 7.[9]
      There were Covid-19 outbreaks in 38 (4.9%) of the 770 Retirement Homes, till Apr 7.[10]

      So, the Long-term Care Home outbreaks are 43.4/4.9 = 8.86 times more prevalent than Retirement Home outbreaks.

      Because an outbreak is, by definition, the introduction of Covid-19 into an old-age home, the most important factor influencing an outbreak is the number of people that the residents meet from outside the home. Long-term Care Home residents would generally meet more staff (from outside the home), whereas Retirement Home residents would meet more outsiders while they were away from the home, as they are free to wonder wherever they choose. Which of the two groups would meet more outsiders? One suspects that Retirement Home residents would come into contact with more outsiders than Long-term Care Home residents.

      Given this, one would expect that Retirement Homes would have had a few more outbreaks than Long-term Care Homes. However, at least initially, Long-term Care Homes had nearly nine times the number of outbreaks. This is proof that Covid-19 was deliberately spread to Ontario’s Long-term Care Homes, but not to the Retirement Homes.

      It appears that the list of targeted places included Long-term Care Homes, but not Retirement Homes. An administrative oversight by the spreaders?
      8
      0
      Reply
      And More.
      And More.
      Jan 12, 2021 11:13 PM
      Reply to WhoDidIt

      ANOTHER PROOF THAT HOMES FOR THE AGED WERE TARGETED.

      In Ontario, as of June 1, there were:

      1,652 (89.2%) deaths in Long-term Care Homes.[11]
      199 (10.7%) deaths in Retirement Homes.[12]

      So, there were about nine times as many deaths in Long-term Care Homes.

      About nine times as many outbreaks has led to about nine times as many deaths.

      This indicates that the severity of the outbreaks in both classes of home were similar, which is not what we have been told. Although, this is roughly what one should have expected as Long-term Care Homes, and Retirement Homes, are quite similar.[15]

      As of 1 June, 1,851/2,293 = 81% of all Covid-19 deaths in Ontario occurred in Long-term Care Homes.[13]

      As of 1 June, 92% of all Covid-19 deaths in Nova Scotia, and 88% of all Covid-19 deaths in Quebec, occurred in Long-term Care Homes.

      By June 1, the Long-term Care Homes in the Canadian provinces/territories, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut had no cases of Covid-19 at all, and those in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan had 12 cases between them (including 4 deaths).[14]

      http://www.preearth.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1184

      The excessive mortality rate in April 2020 here in UK was in all probability due to a similar policy of ‘positive C19 cases’ transferred from hospitals into Care Homes. As to whether rates were higher in non-private Care Homes, I have no information. Do we have any non-privatised Care Homes anymore?

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