The latest Covid rules are a welcome step – but Boris Johnson shouldn’t hesitate to go further if needed

Editorial: The government must also use every tool it has available to increase the take-up of vaccines

Sunday 28 November 2021 21:30
29 November 2021
29 November 2021

The new restrictions brought in to curb the spread of the omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus are both necessary and welcome.

The further, quite modest curbs, on people’s freedom to go about their daily lives – including having to wear masks in shops and on public transport in England – will be resented by some. But given how little is known for now about the severity of the new variant and the speed at which it can spread, the new measures appear an appropriate response to the potential risks. At least the government appears to have learnt – at least somewhat – from its previous failure to act swiftly when confronted by a new threat.

There may be a case for stricter curbs in the future. The two most obvious measures would be encouraging people to work from home and reintroducing social distancing. Although Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has rejected these at this stage. Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, is right to be clear about compliance, warning that his “greatest worry” is that people may not accept new restrictions on their activities. Given the difficulty governments in the UK and elsewhere have had in getting everyone to accept restrictions, his concerns are understandable and real.

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