London going into tier 3 seems silly knowing Christmas will bring a new surge

If you want an example of what can happen when you relax the rules during a festive celebration, look to the US and how Thanksgiving turned into the mother of all super-spreader events

James Moore
Monday 14 December 2020 19:08
London to go into highest level tier 3 restrictions, Matt Hancock announces

Um, Christmas? That was my immediate reaction upon learning London was being put into tier 3.

Let me explain: the rationale for the move is that the capital’s coronavirus infection rates have been surging. They’re well above the national average and well above some of the places already grappling with the highest level of restrictions too.  

So it’s not just virus prevention that motivated the decision. There’s surely some politics at work as well because there must be people in Redcar, Cleveland, Blackpool, or Solihull, saying, hang on just a damn minute. How is it we can’t go to the pub for one of Michael Gove’s substantial tier 2 scotch eggs and a beer or three and London can? How’s that fair when you look at their numbers compared to ours?  

Those politics have drowned out Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who described moving the capital into tier 3 as a “big mistake” at a Royal Society of Medicine event last week. He voiced concerns that the constant up and down of the tiers might be making the situation worse. Spector’s killer point? The danger of Londoners engaging in risky behaviour ahead of their freedom being curtailed.  

“Drinking and festivities will happen if people think that in two days’ time ‘that is it for another six weeks’,” he said. And he was right. They will.  

This brings us neatly back to the subject of Christmas, when the restrictions are going to be relaxed so people can form "bubbles" of three households. Over the festive period they will be able to meet indoors, eat together, get drunk, and have the virus join the party if they have any to hand.  

Some of those bubbles are inevitably going to expand because if celebrities and former pals of Boris Johnson like Dominic Cummings can decide to bend or even break the rules when the mood takes them then other people will inevitably follow their lead.  

You’ll also be able to travel between the tiers and the various nations in this increasingly disunited kingdom (thanks for that Boris). It’s a national Dickensian Christmas meet up and a “super-spreader event” all rolled into one.

So I’m minded to ask precisely what purpose moving the capital to tier 3, which also affects parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, actually serves? You really don’t need to be a scientist of the worthy professor’s standing to see the problem with it.

As for that Christmas policy, it appears motivated by the belief that coronavirus particles attend church and are, as a result, going to lay off during the festive holiday on account of goodwill to all men and all that.  

It might just be me but the last time I looked, the viral creator of Covid-19 was no respecter of the universal creator religious people worship and the rest of us nod at before stuffing ourselves with turkey.  

There’s already a worked example of what could now happen from across the Atlantic when another holiday in which people meet up and communally stuff themselves with turkey – the Thanksgiving holiday – turned into the mother of all super-spreader events.  

Covid killed more Americans on the worst day last week than died during the 9/11 terror attacks in which the World Trade Centre was destroyed. There were other days in which the death toll approached that.  

The justifiably revered (by sensible Americans) Dr Anthony Fauci warned against more of the sort of gatherings the UK government is endorsing as a result. Please think about it, he urged people with the festive season approaching.  

Sure, some people are always going to ignore that sort of exhortation. These people would have ignored the government’s advice had it not opted for the grandparent-killing corona-Christmas that it has given the green light to.  

The holiday was always going to cause problems. The government has just chosen to exacerbate them. The tiers have never made much sense. But they look even sillier now.  

Meanwhile, the figures from America are horrific. Every day I look at them and every day I shudder. We risk something like that coming here.  

Sure we have the vaccine but the rollout isn’t anywhere near advanced enough to stop what I fear we’ve got coming.  

The government’s policy increasingly seems to be informed by a mix of ineptitude and nonsense and people are going to die from it.  

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