On Sunday 4 July, the Andrew Marr Show let the Tory government get away with what one person called “murder“. Because yet again, the host failed to hold a government minister to account over the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
It’s been widely reported that the government will end all coronavirus restrictions on 19 July. As PA reported, rumours were abound in the Sunday newspapers that Boris Johnson, who’s due to update the nation this week on plans for unlocking, wants to scrap social distancing and mask-wearing requirements on so-called “Freedom Day”. So, enter communities secretary Robert Jenrick to confirm this on Marr.
PA reported that he told the host:
It does look as if, thanks to the success of the vaccine programme, that we now have the scope to roll back those restrictions and return to normality as far as possible… It does feel as if we are now in the final furlong, in a period in which we can start to live with the virus and move on with our lives.
One specific “roll back” Jenrick and the Tories are carrying out has caused uproar on social media.
Masking the danger
Earlier, Jenrick told Sky News that:
We are now going to move into a period where there won’t be legal restrictions – the state won’t be telling you what to do – but you will want to exercise a degree of personal responsibility and judgement.
As PA reported, this looks like it means we’ll no longer have to wear face masks. Marr pushed Jenrick on the issue. But he used the angle of “social tension”; that is, some people would still wear masks while others wouldn’t. Jenrick said:
We trust the British public to exercise good judgement.
But Jenrick also said he couldn’t make the “commitment” that the government would ease all restrictions. We’d have to wait for Johnson to give it the go-ahead.
Unbelievably, Marr left it there. He didn’t question the issue of whether it was safe to not wear a mask after 19 July. This is despite cases of the Delta variant rocketing. And while deaths are not currently rising, the more cases there are the more likely it is that a new, and potentially more vaccine-resistant, variant could emerge. Moreover, none of this solves the issue of long Covid. So, it was down to Twitter to confront the issue:
One user made a sarcastic but important point:
Richard Murphy noted the risks of long Covid in children:
Another user said this would lead to “avoidable deaths”:
And as The Canary‘s weekend editor Afroze Fatima Zaidi summed up:
We ended lockdown too early last yr and sent kids back to school in Sept and then had the 2nd wave. We’re now on cusp of a 3rd wave thanks to Delta variant (95% of UK cases) but still reopening 19 July. People will die all over again because this govt keeps putting profits first.
So, as the Baker Street Herald said on Twitter, some people might compare what the Tories are doing to “murder”:
The pathologically negligent Tory government is once more putting business and profit before the lives of its citizens. It’s sadly predictable how this might end.
Featured image via BBC iPlayer – screengrab