As #BorisTheLiar trends on Twitter, people are outraged that the government is scapegoating the public as coronavirus (Covid-19) figures rise again.
From Monday 14 September, gatherings in England of more than 6 people who are outside of your household will be banned. The government has stated that:
[It] will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
You can gather, but only when there is money to be made
The government, as usual, appears to be prioritising the economy over people’s lives. As it vows to “reopen the economy“, people are being forced back onto packed tubes and buses, and into offices, so that big business can carry on as usual:
#BorisTheLiar so I can get on a packed London Underground train with 60 random people squeezed in a carriage but I can’t see 6 people that I know?
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— IamCodeyC (@iamCodeyC) September 9, 2020
While we can’t gather outside in groups of more than six, pubs and restaurants are going to remain open because we’ll be spending money. Kevin Blowe, coordinator at Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), told The Canary:
The new rules are intended to crack down on unlicensed music events, not least because people (especially from Black and working class communities) enjoying themselves has historically been seen as a public order threat. It doesn’t matter to the government that pubs are just as likely to spread infection.
In an attempt to cover the fact that it is actually really useless, the government is scapegoating young people for spreading the virus, while at the same time sending them back in their masses to schools and universities.
they're saying that young people are responsible for the spread of the virus when they're the ones sending us back to school/uni, sending us back to work and encouraging us to eat out. take responsibility you absolute imbeciles❤️ #BorisTheLiar #coronavirusuk #COVID19 #CovidUK
— jess²⁸ (@habitualwalls) September 9, 2020
#BorisTheLiar : Young people have to go back to school and work. Don’t forget to eat out to save the economy!!
Also #BorisTheLiar : Wow there’s a second spike? Look what you young people have done.
Have a big fat FUCK YOU, BORIS
— TheArtyWitch (@TheArtyWitch) September 9, 2020
The Canary spoke to one senior university lecturer who didn’t want to be named. She said:
The current policy saying that a gathering of more than 6 people is not allowed, while leaving universities open, shows how arrogant and irresponsible the government’s approach is. They put the lives of students and university staff under unjustifiable risk for money and political gains.
But, of course, there’s money to be made from sending students back to school. Parents can get back to the office to continue their roles as dutiful workers. And as Steve Topple wrote in The Canary:
universities generated £95bn for the UK economy in 2014/15; nearly as much as the entire NHS budget for the same year. What’s more staggering, perhaps, is that the UK hospitality industry was worth around £130bn a year in 2018; not that much different from universities. It’s therefore of little wonder that the Tories are hell-bent on the education system getting back to normal, regardless of the consequences.
We have known for sometime that the government is using coronavirus as a distraction to introduce controversial new powers. And now, as Black Lives Matter protests continue, and as activists block Rupert Murdoch’s printing presses, these new government restrictions are set to affect all protest, effectively criminalising those who take part.
Blowe told The Canary:
The new rules threaten protests, despite assurances that they can continue. It is almost impossible for a protest organiser to know if a risk assessment is strict enough to avoid arrests. The police aren’t qualified to advise and, anyway, refuse to provide assurances when asked. What we are left with is the police having sweeping discretion to impose enormous fines, at least until someone decides to challenge these powers in court.
The Canary’s Tom Anderson argues that we need to fight for our freedom to protest:
it is more important than ever that we collectively fight back and don’t allow the state to use this legislation as a protest ban. While we all need to take action in response to the pandemic and look out for each other, our freedom to demonstrate is non negotiable. We need to defend our freedom to act collectively and to defend ourselves and our communities.
The government continues to wash its hands of blame
Right from the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government prioritised capitalism over people. While other countries locked down at the beginning of the year, the UK government toyed with herd immunity. In February, it was reported that Dominic Cummings said that herd immunity was about:
protect[ing] the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.
In the first crucial weeks of the virus’s spread, the Tories’ solution was to advise handwashing for 20 seconds. In March, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty advised against wearing masks. Meanwhile, there was no way that any of us who had symptoms could get tested. And even the government’s list of coronavirus symptoms was wildly incomplete, protecting the economy over lives.
It comes as no surprise that the government is subjecting us to another cringeworthy slogan. This time it is “Hands. Face. Space“.
I believe we will beat this virus before too long.
So let’s work together and follow the rules. From Monday socialise in groups of no more than six, and remember to wash your hands, cover your face and make space.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 10, 2020
Wear a face mask and wash those hands, while piling onto tubes, sending kids to school, and cramming into university lecture halls. That’ll do the job, Boris!
Featured image via Screengrab/ YouTube
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