Common sense in short supply as tragedy turns to farce on ‘freedom day’

Editorial: Sajid Javid has tested positive for Covid and the prime minister and chancellor are self-isolating – this is a government in disarray

The tragedy has turned to farce. The damage brought by the pandemic to families and the government’s uneven response to it has been a tragedy. What should have been the substantive reopening of the economy has become a farce.

Until a few days ago, businesses had hoped, reasonably enough, that the guidance from the government would be sustained that they could, with a few exceptions, resume normal activities. Then the explosion of new cases caught on the NHS Track and Trace app meant that many of their people were “pinged” and told to self-isolate. The absurd situation arose that while they might be allowed to open things up, they did not have the staff to do so. More than half a million people were pinged in the first week of July.

Then Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid, despite having had both jabs of the vaccine. Unsurprisingly he had been in close contact with both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak – they all were at a cabinet meeting on Friday – which should have required them both to self-isolate. But there was a get-out clause: the pilot scheme, whereby if people were tested every day and were clear, they did not need to isolate.

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