London and the South East of England have been put under Tier 4 restrictions, with more areas in the region to follow. With these restrictions coming just as we enter the holiday season, it will effectively cancel Christmas. With lockdown affecting people on multiple levels – especially financially and socially – we must ask ourselves whether this ‘cure’ is worse than the disease itself. Evidence has shown that lockdowns do more harm to people than benefit them; so what is the government doing?

After the second national lockdown ended in early December many saw this as a positive end to the year, especially those in Tiers 1 and 2. In addition to this, it seems as if the vaccine is just around the corner, with the government prioritising the elderly and care homes and rolling out the vaccine to the rest of the public in stages. The Christmas period is usually very busy, with businesses (especially hospitality) facing increasing demand for their products and services.

Due to the pandemic many jobs and businesses have already been lost, and many are on its last legs. The Christmas period, for many independent businesses, is seen as a last hope to keep their trade afloat. Now, London and the south east of England is to go into Tier 4, which is essentially lockdown-Lite. This is a bad idea, and would be catastrophic for businesses.

There’s no ethical justification for continuing this [lockdown] failed experiment.

John Tierney, contributing editor at City Journal

The Arrogance of the Government

The main issue with this is that the government seems to deal purely with statistics and hypotheticals. There is currently no evidence that suggests Covid spreads faster in restaurants and pubs.

It’s as if the government considers the hospitality industry to be a necessary casualty of the pandemic, having no idea just how damaging it will be to thousands of people employed in this sector. A new lockdown is essentially a nail in the coffin to pubs and struggling businesses in this sector.

To many people, furlough is simply not enough. Given the fact that furlough only covers 80% of a person’s salary (up to £2,000), any other expenses that are not covered by the scheme will have to be borne entirely by the worker.

Many workers live by the pay check; if they don’t work, they don’t eat. With rent set to increase in London, and inadequate support for workers, many will live on the breadline and be made homeless. An apology from Matt Hancock will simply not cut it.

There are those who would argue that due to a new strain of Covid being discovered, a swift reaction to it would be justified. To a certain extent, this is reasonable. It would be irresponsible for any government to not react to new developments; some would even suggest that if they didn’t react, any and all consequences would be borne by them.

Channel 4 reports UK unemployment rises to 2.1 million as of May 2020. Video credit: Channel 4 News

The Harsh Realities of Lockdown

With that being said, it seems as if the government does not seem to be too concerned about the collateral damage caused by lockdown. There are other factors at play here that are as a result of lockdown which aren’t necessarily economic. Yes, financial health is an important part of a person’s life, but there are other things to consider.

An example of this is our humanity. New lockdown restrictions mean that Christmas is essentially cancelled, despite earlier promises that restrictions would be temporarily relaxed during the period. When asked if people should consider leaving Tier 4 areas, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty advised people to ‘unpack their bags’.

Christmas is the one time of the year where the nation becomes more cheerful and spirited, and many people use it as an opportunity to see their relatives, lots of whom live far away. To cancel Christmas is a bitter blow and a kick in the teeth after what has been a terrible year.

Rishi Sunak says the UK ‘will face a recession, the likes of which have never been seen’. Photo credit: Zee Business

Those who are living on the breadline will be further isolated from their families and friends, with socially distanced support simply not being adequate. This will have a major impact on people’s mental health, with anxiety, depression and suicide rates already increasing.

There’s also the elite snobbery that comes with lockdown. Many of the people who are pro-lockdown are either middle/upper class elites and celebrities, or those who work in the public sector. All of these people enjoy financial security.

Many of the most prominent pro-lockdown voices haven’t missed a single pay cheque since the pandemic began. It’s too easy for those people to speak about ‘safety’ (when Covid has a 99% survival rate) when their livelihoods aren’t at risk.

Civil Liberties are Being Eroded

There is also a growing concern about civil liberties being infringed upon. The UK, for the most part, was a free nation pre-Covid. Now, there has been a radical political paradigm shift. No longer are we free by default; now we’re ‘allowed’ to do things.

We’re ‘allowed’ to meet up with only one person outside our home. We’re not ‘allowed’ to mix households. We’re not ‘allowed’ to leave home unless necessary. The UK public, under the guise of ‘safety’, has been infantilised. Too many are fine to allow the government to consolidate power and strip individuals of their civil liberties, to give them a false sense of security.

Times of crisis always create the conditions for our rights to be swept away – we must now demand them back.

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, a rights group

The lockdown has overstayed its welcome. It’s one thing for the government to stop helping us; it’s another thing entirely for them to stop us from helping ourselves. It’s a cure that is so much worse than the disease and it simply must end, before it causes irreparable damage to our economy and our nation as a body of people.

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Aaron Fenton-Hewitt is an aspiring journalist and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from London Metropolitan University, and a Master's in Writing for Creative and Professional Practice from Middlesex University. He wishes to continue his academic career, with a PhD in Politics or related field.

Aaron is also a freelance photographer, an avid foodie and an Arsenal supporter.

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