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George Mitchell: Calling an end to Covid restrictions – if not now, when?

Covid restrictions are beginning to ease but George thinks more should be done.
Covid restrictions are beginning to ease but George thinks more should be done.

Whether you agree with me or not, I have been consistent with my views on lockdowns and restrictions from day one.

So, I’m asking the question regarding our lives and restrictions and the possibility of autumn lockdowns, and/or learning to finally live with this virus and getting back to normal. The question is – if not now, when?

As in previous columns, I am not belittling anyone who has suffered or experienced a loss due to coronavirus. It may have affected you, your family or someone you know. If that is the case, my heart goes out to you.

If there are going to be future lockdowns due to spikes in infection rates, let’s remind ourselves what Dr Tom Jefferson and Professor Cal Heneghan, from the Oxford University centre for evidence-based medicine, famously said last year: “Lockdowns do not work in the long term. The idea that a month of economic hardship will permit some sort of reset allowing us a brighter future is a myth.”

They then go on in detail to explain where we are going wrong and what we should do. Why are people like this never on the mainstream news? There are plenty of them, such as Sunetra Gupta, an infectious disease expert. She set up the Great Barrington Declaration in early October. It hardly makes mainstream news, except to be ridiculed by the “experts”.

Waiting lists for dental appointments are very full. 

Are you trying to get a dentist appointment? Seriously, good luck to you. I called my dentist recently from abroad. Not had an appointment for over a year. I was told the earliest they could see me, due to waiting lists and Covid restrictions, was September 16. I got an appointment the very next day in the Spanish town I was in. The dentist couldn’t believe what I told him about the situation back home. For the record, I do not blame my dentist, I blame government restrictions.

Far more serious than dental check-ups, I see that there is a waiting list of millions for operations such as knee and hip replacements, cancer and heart conditions. Is this not the real “pandemic”?

I said in a column last March that fear is contagious. We seem to be living in fear and the mainstream news channels pump it out every day. England’s chief medical officer Chris Witty said last week, we could hit “scary numbers in the future”. Alarming language that just fuels fear. We are scaring ourselves witless here. There is no balance.

As for the ongoing ever-changing future predictions? According to the professors I mentioned above, they are not science-based at all. We were told last year that 250,000 could die. That terrified me. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. Last week I read that “cases” could be 100,000 per day very soon. Then I heard it would be 200,000. Take you pick basically.

How long will we be wearing face coverings for? 

I agree it’s very scary to read that another X thousand got infected yesterday. But what they never seem to report is that the majority have either little or no symptoms at all. We need balance, and we’re not getting it. I have never seen such blatant one-sidedness in my life.

There are now growing calls for government and news channels to stop announcing daily virus case numbers.

GP Dr Rosemary Leonard commented last week that since the majority of “infections” are now among young people who will most likely experience only minor cold/flu-like symptoms, was it not time to stop announcing the daily positive case totals?

I totally agree. And why are we calling a positive test result a “case”? Surely it’s only a case, ie a medical case, if someone becomes ill? The vast majority of those classed as a positive case have no serious illness at all. If they want to give us figures, “cases” are not helpful, give us only hospitalisations directly due to Covid, but not positive results for that only helps keep up the fear factor.

Why not give a daily list of those who have had their cancer op postponed due to virus restrictions and backlogs? Or the jobless total due to Covid, or those seeking help for anxiety, or the money that has to be paid back due to paying people not to go to work?

And I wish the press would stop banging on about “Freedom Day”; it’s so patronising. As for so-called “level zero”… we’ve still got to wear a mask and quarantine if pinged on our phones, hardly level zero or Freedom Day in my book.

Do you use the NHS app or are you one of the countless numbers who are now deleting it? Half a million people were pinged in England last week. Half a million people told to go home and isolate. Half a million extra not at work. As a result, factories are closing, hospitals are cancelling operations because so many workers have been told to self-isolate. Nine hundred workers at a car plant in Sunderland were sent home to isolate. This is chaos and it’s unsustainable.

If we continue to behave like this, Britain will grind to a halt.

Surely the time has come where we ask ourselves, what kind of country do we want to live in?

Inconsistent rules have angered many. How can 60,000 fans at Wembley be safe but air travel not?

I do not envy our leaders’ jobs right now. I really don’t. But they have to make big decisions very soon. There are three options. The one we have now is not working, so let’s look at the other two.

We can either, A, tell everyone, right that’s it, no more travel abroad ever, no more attending football matches, no more pubs, etc. Or B, because of our highly successfully vaccine roll-out, we take a deep breath and open up our country and get back to work and normality ASAP. The middle way, the one we have now? Not working, and it cannot be sustained. The hospitality sector and the airline industry are almost on their knees, and mental health across society has suffered massively.

I read last week that we are being told to brace ourselves for our worst winter on record regarding infections and deaths. I ask again re normality, if not now, when?

I recently returned to the UK from an amber country. I was there for work-related columns. Remember when we were told to be patient as jabs would give us back our freedom? Well, despite having had both my jabs, I had to pay for a Covid test in Europe the day before I travelled home. I then had to take and pay for two further tests in the UK at the disgraceful cost of £170 and stay inside for 10 days.

And before anyone suggests that I could have shopped around for a cheaper alternative, it’s not possible. You have no option. The Scottish Government website makes it very clear you must use the company they say when returning from abroad. They are called CTM North.

When I didn’t get my test result days after taking the first swab, I called CTM North. They fobbed me off and said they didn’t deal with results, I had to call the NHS. Unbelievable. What are CTM North doing for their money? Not much it seems. Someone is making a lot, and I mean a lot, of money out of this shambles.

George believes a lot of money is being made from Covid testing. 

However, it would have been OK for me to have gone to football zones, or Wembley or Hampden, and mix with tens of thousands of others. And what about the foreign dignitaries at the Euro finals? They didn’t have to quarantine for 10 days like us mere mortals.

People can also, I think, now go to nightclubs and dance the night away. But come back from abroad and bang, you have to stay inside your house and pay for the privilege. Where’s the logic in all this?

The amber and green travel lists? A disastrous rollercoaster of changes. Want to take the family away for a week in Europe somewhere? My advice to you, under these ever-changing restrictions is… don’t bother. It’s not worth the hassle, or cost. You’ll come back frazzled and seriously out of pocket.

Is a family holiday abroad even worth the hassle at the moment? 

Regarding the future wearing of masks. They could still be here at Christmas we’ve recently been told. I’d say probably longer. I have no problem with anyone who wants to wear a mask forever. Their choice. But I do not believe it should be compulsory. If not now, when? When all are safe, and no one ever gets infected with anything? Not a reality. So, if not now, when?

Jabs either work or they don’t, we cannot live in this forever. Our vaccine roll-out has been superb, yet still we live under restrictions. I fear another lockdown is coming. Remember last Christmas and winter?

Surely we have to learn to live with this virus and not react to every set of daily cases? If not now, when?

I absolutely defend your right to totally disagree with everything I have just said and choose caution, masks, restrictions and more lockdowns if necessary. But I would ask the question, since most adults and near all those who are vulnerable have been double jabbed… if not now, when?