Covid restrictions expected to last beyond Christmas

By Ian Silvera

Freeze the eggnog, hide the Santa hats and put the prezzies on hold – this isn’t looking like it is going to be all over by Christmas, as Boris Johnson once openly hoped. Instead, the pandemic is rumbling, silently (like a background VHS fuzz), on. Now the UK government is even considering Covid wardens, neighbourhood snoopers who dob-in disobeying citizens to the local constabulary. 

It sounds like a cross between Dad’s Army’s fun-killer Chief Warden Hodges and Hot Fuzz’s omniscient NWA (the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance and not the American hip-hop group with the same abbreviated name). 

They would apparently enforce a 10pm curfew, which is allegedly being mooted in Number 10, and the new ‘rule of six’, stopping groups of seven or more congregating outside of work or school. This all comes after the hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme, giving dinners heavy discounts on meals across the UK, and the rise in the ‘R rate’ to a range between 1 and 1.2, meaning that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people. 

It’s a fine line for Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who are trying to stop thousands of additional Covid-19 induced deaths while getting the economy back to its pre-pandemic levels to prevent the extinguishment of millions of livelihoods.  

Sympathy, however, seems to be in short supply from the British public, who, according to a YouGov poll, rate the response from the governments of Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Italy and South Korea ahead of the current Conservative administration. In fact, the survey found that UK residents only thought China and the USA had done a worse job than their own government. 

A ‘Covid Christmas’ has also caught the minds of those Down Under, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning that his federal government’s measures will drag into the holiday season. He has, though, called for internal state borders to open up by the end of December, something 58% of his compatriots agree with, according to the latest Newgate Australia tracker. 

The survey, of almost 1,200 people between Monday 7 September and Wednesday 9 September, also found that other concerns, beyond Covid, have risen, with worries about bushfires, drought and water supply up: 65% now say they are ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about bushfires (up from 60% three weeks ago), while worries around drought and water supply is also rising (64%, up from 57% two weeks ago). 

It really puts the ongoing ‘shall we or shan’t we get the frozen turkey and pigs in blankets Christmas buffet for seven?’ debate into perspective.