Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeCOVID-19I don’t have a truck – will a Christmas tree do?

I don’t have a truck – will a Christmas tree do?

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THE Swiss are not great observers of Twelfth Night. Their Christmas decorations – the external ones, at least – tend to linger in gardens and porches well into January, and the odd set of lights twinkles even now. I usually go along with this, and my pot-bound fir, replete with shiny baubles, is still centre stage on my terrace. But this year, it’s no longer just a Christmas tree. It has become a Political Statement.

I have decided I will undress the tree and return it to its shady corner only when I can be welcomed aboard a Swissair flight to London City without anyone inquiring after my health. Sadly, if the forebodings of James Delingpole and Kate Dunlop in recent TCWs are anything to go by, it’s quite likely it will be sitting where it is for a good while longer, wilted and shrouded in cobwebs, like Miss Havisham’s wedding bouquet. 

At the moment, Swiss residents are eagerly awaiting the government’s decision on Wednesday whether to lift all remaining Covid-19 restrictions and procedures. Any relaxation will depend on new infections having peaked and vaccinations and boosters continuing to progress. Hospitals are no longer under pressure, and it is agreed the pandemic is now subsiding.  

Two options are under consideration. Path One would see all protective measures lifted. Covid certificates would not be required for indoor venues, mask-wearing would scrapped, as well as the recommendation for social distancing, working from home and quarantine following contact. A positive test would continue to require self-isolation.

Path Two is more cautious. Certificates would no longer be required for bars and restaurants, but it would still be necessary to be sitting down. (Yes, really.) The 2G rule (requiring vaccination or recovery) would continue to apply in nightclubs, choirs, swimming pools, saunas and indoor sports. Mask rules would remain.

Travel restrictions would also be relaxed, removing all Covid-related rules for entering the country, whether jabbed or not. Covid certificates would no longer be sought from tourists or returning residents.

This normalisation will be effective immediately following Wednesday’s official announcement. Not a moment too soon for the Davis family’s arrival for their annual skiing week. While the ski lifts and pistes have remained open without a certificate requirement, hospitality for the unvaxxed has been restricted to open terraces, which, at 2,000 metres, could be a life-threatening experience without constant direct sunshine. Eating Bratwurst mit Rösti also proved tricky while wearing two pairs of gloves.

Being enthusiastic politicians, the federal authorities are reluctant to go the whole hog. While certificates would not be demanded for use in Switzerland, they would not actually be scrapped. Even if no longer required domestically, they might need to be shown abroad for entry to other countries with different regulations. How fortunate for any government’s longer-term plans that they can shift responsibility on to the regulations demanded by others; and how disingenuous to continue referring to the ‘New Normal’ digital travel ID as a ‘health pass’. They craftily close the obvious bureaucratic doorway, while leaving a handy little authoritarian window open.

The EU has reacted by approving a proposal to extend the ‘health pass’ to June 30, 2023. Spokesman Christian Wigand reassured us that the EU was being cautious in case of increases in the virus later this year. 

This happens to coincide with an announcement from Swiss President Ignazio Cassis, who wants to thaw the existing frosty ties with the European Union by seeking a new package of bilateral agreements.

He believes Switzerland must move closer to the bloc. ‘In the Federal Council,’ he stated, ‘we are currently in the process of defining the framework for a possible package or an agenda for talks.’ We can reasonably assume that the European-wide ‘health pass’ they are planning will feature strongly. After all, how much or how little do things have to change so that everything can stay the same?

As she sat amidst the ruins of her bridal splendour, Miss Havisham poured her vitriol and hate into brainwashing her young adopted daughter and protégée, Estella, to exact revenge on all the men she so despised. This time round, it’s the authorities, allegedly caring about our health, who are injecting the poison into the innocent young. Just like Estella, most of the youngsters are swallowing the message whole, eager to compromise their untarnished health in return for a university place or a trip to Disneyland.

I really want to do something personally about all this, to protest about the vaccine mandates and anti-social apartheid, the abuse of our young people and the loss of our hard-won freedoms. I just wish I was a trucker, and 30 years younger! I’d join them in a flash, brazenly honking my horn and risking a violent arrest.  

But all I have is my Politicised Tree, and I don’t expect the Swiss Ministry of Health will be paying much attention to that. Maybe I could set off with it, and plant myself on the steps of the Bundestag in Bern. On second thoughts, perhaps not. I’m not a Swiss citizen, and the security guards are unlikely to adopt the tactics of their UK counterparts and offer me a nice cup of tea. 

So I’d better keep my head down and my tree up. I can certainly keep pushing back, and telling everybody I know, and signing all the petitions, and go on writing about it, and using my voice. Yes, ‘Go Truckers!’ 

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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