SO, a mere two cases of a new variant, of ‘unknown’ severity and transmissibility, and Boris Johnson deems this ample justification to tighten travel restrictions and mask policy. How swiftly he morphs from Peppa Pig World aficionado to tyrant.
Having had the audacity to sell the nation the post-Freedom Day red herring of we must learn to live with the ever-mutating virus, at the merest whiff of a new variant he slams the brakes on this ethos and starts reversing the fake emergency back up the endless switchbacks of Zero-Covid mountain.
We know full well what a three-week return to ‘mandatory’ mask use means: another entire winter and spring of faceless automatons on the high street, and stifled children forced to adopt brand Covid in classrooms. Above all, it means yet more precious months of life lost to Johnson’s good-pig bad-pig approach to national resilience: the stoical, patriotic fortitude instilled in the public via his campaign of mass-frailty by stealth.
Flanked at Saturday’s press conference by his piglets, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister stressed that he was not ‘going to stop people travelling’, but was merely reintroducing the need for PCR testing for anyone entering the UK, regardless of vaccination status, as if having one’s brain stabbed via one’s nasal cavity multiple times with a carcinogenic cotton-bud in the name of vanquishing an engineered enemy was now an everyday aspect of overseas travel comparable to packing sufficient underwear.
It seems that the travel industry could be the target of another long winter of spanner-throwing from Westminster, and the prospects of a dose of hard-won winter sunshine, or a trip to visit dear friends and relatives abroad are already looking somewhat bleak with the immaculately-timed threat of Omicron (incidentally, as many have gleefully pointed out on social media, an anagram of ‘moronic’).
So much for scrapping all Covid-19 travel testing in January, but that was always a canard, wasn’t it, Prime Minister? All you meant by tossing that crumb of hope our way was that, by then, we simply won’t be able to travel at all without having been vaccinated.
This is the ‘new normal’ kicking in. Turns out Johnson’s storm clouds were not long in arriving, and with grim predictability, releasing the miserable drizzle of their public health controls. Vallance earned his snout a place at the State’s winter trough with this sharp analysis: ‘if it spreads very fast, of course it’s going to spread very fast and go into a lot of places, and if it spreads less fast it’s going to do so less.’ Genius.
Ever the most downbeat of all Johnson’s Covid piglets, Chris Whitty was unable to convey why two cases of the Omicron variant justifies a turning of the non-pharmaceutical intervention screw. ‘There is a reasonable chance that at least there will be some degree of vaccine escape with this variant,’ he said before feebly endorsing Johnson’s urgent intention nevertheless to ‘boost the booster campaign’ as surety.
According to UKHSA data, in relation to the prevailing variant(s) the vaccine doesn’t just enjoy ‘some degree’ of escape, but is dancing atop our vaccine wall of defence, trousers down and flaunting its inefficacy in the face of hospitals up and down the country. Quite how a third shot of it will create a bulwark against Omicron is a riddle, but with three weeks now at their disposal to snuffle around for the right ratio of fear-based patriotism, I’m sure the Prime Minister’s little pigs will persuade the nation to increase uptake somehow.
Having watched on patiently, and silently, as other European countries released not interventionist drizzle but hail upon their citizenries, Johnson has gauged what he feels he can get away with for now. Once his three-week circuit-breaker of fearmongering approaches expiry, along will come the traditional pre-Christmas announcement of increased restrictions.
The majority of the public will now obediently double-down on mask usage, completely failing to notice that many of the countries experiencing case surges (or more accurately, increased testing) have endured far stricter mask policies than Britain ever has. They will be the same people self-harming with the face-uniform in winter 2023, when Johnson announces the presence of a single case of the Baffin Island variant or Vallance says he had a dream about a variant spread by houseflies.
At the time of writing, gov.uk’s face-covering guidance remains to be updated and one can only assume that the right to self-assert a mask-exemption still applies, but it will likely be another winter war of disapproving looks shot the way of the unmasked. Judging by the amount of face-covering signage remaining in situ since ‘Freedom Day’, I dare say that many an establishment, their terror amplified by Omicron, will refuse to acknowledge exemptions.
A prohibition on non-clinically-validated mask exemptions, another lockdown, vaccine passports, or a universal vaccine mandate: three weeks to figure out which you’d like to try next, Prime Minister, but be aware that the adrenaline of the self-determined is rising: spike it, if you dare.
Either way, this time you have proved yourself to be an absolute swine of a man.