One disclaimer upfront for the Covid deniers, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and Covidiots: this commentary isn't for you. Feel free to mute, block, unfollow me; you don't even need to tell me. For those that don't, there's a point to this monologue.
Back to the matter.
For the uninitiated, I'm from London. Never mind the Bajan (meaning from Barbados) heritage, I'm from London. Born and raised in the capital and proud of. Scenery, restaurants, entertainment, ethnic and cultural diversity, the young, old and in-between, the straight, the gay, those in-between, etc. etc. etc. you get the idea. Man, I could go on - I love this city. It's home. No matter where I fly to in the world, it's always a great feeling to touch down back at Heathrow Airport. The capital is home territory.
And as of Monday 19th July 2021, our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has further eased/lifted lockdown measures for the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Which some have referred to as Freedom Day.
I call it stupid. Ill-advised, at best. Dangerous, at worst.
Even if I hadn't had both vaccine jabs, I'm hardly the least at risk. No major health issues I'm aware of (regular exercise, balanced diet and doctor check-ups help with that). But I'll still be wearing my mask, practising social distancing, regularly washing my hands. By the way - I've not forgotten there's a point to this entry. I'm getting there.
One of the things I do is keep an eye on the R-number infection data the government publishes weekly on its website. In simple terms, if the R number is more than 1, the infection is growing. If the R number is less than one, the infection is shrinking. The UK consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I keep an eye on the England figures; London, in particular.
And because I check this weekly, I've seen where figures have shown the R number trending in the wrong direction. Currently as I write this, the R number in London has been 1.2 to 1.4 for the past few weeks. Now, I assume that the government has been looking at additional data that prompted them to ease lockdown measures almost completely. But as for the COVID-19/R-number data, I don't see how it's a smart decision. I do see how easing lockdown measures while the infection is still growing will let it grow and spread even further. Given that the U.S. under the Trump administration saw a damn-near biblical body count as a result of mishandling the pandemic, for America's CDC to issue this warning is a damning indictment of how the pandemic is being handled here:
I give it until the end of August at the latest before lockdown measures are tightened in England.
The so-called 'Freedom Day' saw the lifting of restrictions such as how many people from how many households can meet. Bars and restaurants can open fully, not just al fresco. Nightclubs can open. Best of all, our PM Boris Johnson is leaving the use of masks (which was lax before July 19th) up to the discretion of the public although, as London mayor Sadiq Khan has reiterated, masks are still mandatory on public transport. For those who I see not wearing masks on public transport, I'm pretty sure the majority of them don't have an underlying health issue that warrants them doing so.
What's ironic to me is that the Covid deniers, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, by their very nature, are the ones who are helping to perpetuate the infection and keep it around longer (or, for the Covid deniers, they're the ones ultimately encouraging the government to maintain that fiction). Again, let me stress that (thankfully) even without being vaccinated, I'm least at risk. So while our PM Boris Johnson leaves things like mask wearing up to the public's discretion, all he's really doing is showing how spineless and irresponsible he is.
And here's the point:
I love this city. But I don't want it where the pandemic is still a clear and present danger to the city and everyone in it. Stories I write usually feature London as a character, but they've yet to feature the pandemic. That's an aesthetic choice more than anything - to show you the rich and diverse landscape without it being reduced to a ghost town. When I get back to the likes of bars, restaurants, live music, etc. I want to do it with the pandemic as nothing more than a distant memory - not another lurking horror ready to step to centre stage at a moment's notice.
That's the point.