DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Cut house arrest to help UK bounce back
Despite boosting the nation’s spirits by ruling out New Year’s Eve-wrecking Covid restrictions for England, the PM made ominously clear that curbs could still be imposed next month if the virus runs wild.
The key metric would be if an Omicron wave began putting unendurable pressure on hospitals.
Leave aside the rights and wrongs of whether a largely vaccinated population ought to be treating the cash-guzzling NHS as if it was the sickly patient.
But it would be a grim irony indeed if oppressive measures were introduced to protect it from buckling, not due to a tidal wave of cases but because so many doctors and nurses were ill or self-isolating.
Boris Johnson has made ominously clear that Covid curbs could still be imposed next month
Yet over-restrictive Government rules that compel anyone testing Covid-positive to stay off work for seven days make that cheerless prospect very real.
With 5 per cent of health care staff currently in purdah – even if no longer infectious – the NHS faces meltdown.
Staff absenteeism now poses a bigger threat to patient care than infections, with harrowing consequences. Treatments and diagnoses delayed, operations cancelled – consigning millions to pain and anguish.
And this mandatory house arrest is not just wreaking havoc on the health service.
Staff shortages mean factories, shops and hospitality venues are pulling down the shutters. Emergency services, supply chains and trains are suffering serious disruption.
Rather than help pandemic-pummelled Britain clamber back to its feet, workers are stuck pointlessly at home.
The solution to this problem (which has frustrating echoes of the ‘pingdemic’) is for ministers to relax the restrictions.
A raft of positive signals supports this course of action. Eminent scientists say the virus is becoming no worse than a common cold.
Many Covid patients are in hospital for other reasons, and their stays are shorter. Admissions are not rising steeply. Crucially, most severely ill people are unjabbed.
Last week, this paper applauded the quarantine period being slashed from ten to seven days. Now Boris Johnson must mirror America and cut it to five days for those who have recovered. Not to do so would be an egregious act of self-harm.
Our economy is predicted to outstrip the rest of the G7 next year as post-Brexit Britain roars back from the virus. That will help us to begin repaying the mountainous debts racked up during the pandemic.
But if the PM retreats into a cave of caution and fails to tackle the self-isolation crisis, the country will instead grind to a ruinous and debilitating halt.
Belts are tight enough
The cost-of-living storm about to batter millions of hard-pressed families will soon get even more violent.
Most are bracing themselves for the impact of soaring energy bills, national insurance rises and 30-year high inflation to hit their finances.
But as the Mail reveals today, thanks to a Government sleight-of-hand, many local authorities are hiking council tax by as much as 6 per cent.
The reason for this increase, which many can ill afford, is to give threadbare social care budgets a boost.
But despite previous injections of funds, provision for the elderly is deteriorating.
When families are so badly squeezed, it’s imperative that each penny is spent wisely – and doesn’t simply line fatcats’ pockets.
- By supergluing themselves to motorways, the eco-dolts of Insulate Britain have shot themselves in their green feet. First, their imbecilic stunts hardened minds against environmentalism, while wrecking school runs and snarling up emergency vehicles. Now we learn that police spent £4.3million of taxpayers’ money unsticking these narcissists from roads – enough to insulate thousands of homes.