The fact that the Government prevaricated over the introduction of the lockdown may have been a contributory factor in the terrible loss of life for the United Kingdom due to Covid-19. We shall never know. Certainly the sight of the crowded London Underground at the start of the crisis was very worrying. It took Whitehall some days to introduce tougher rules.
We are now in the same situation again and once more the Government is dithering. Does it bring in a law that says all arrivals to the UK, whether by land (tunnel), sea or air self-isolate for 14 nights?
This time around the PM has to say no. Prevaricating is dangerous.
And why the lack of decision?
Because Mr Johnson knows in his heart that the gateways to Britain must remain open.
Suppose the clampdown were to happen. How would it be monitored? Is it possible to distinguish between essential travellers such as lorry drivers, airline crews night-stopping as part of their rest requirements, and diplomats. The word immunity springs to mind. Covid-19 knows no barriers.
Other countries will require a reciprocal arrangement. Would you book ahead knowing you may not be let in, or allowed back when the time comes. A short business trip is what it says. 24 or 48 hours. Not a forced fortnight. Zoom is changing the way we communicate.
The biggest loser of course is the economy, coupled to airlines and airports. The April figures for Heathrow in BTN today show the results of pandemic and unless people and goods can move through the airport things will get even worse. That airports, and others, are making tremendous efforts highlighted by the health screening trials highlighted in this issue.
The UK has the world’s third largest aviation sector “offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners,” noted in an exceptional joint statement by the senior members of the travel establishment.
Up to now the politicians have been led by the scientists but this time around the PM himself has to say that isolation is not the answer, from a medical, physical and practical point of view. Nor for the economic well-being of the country!
He must prevaricate no longer.