More positive news is emerging by the day about the likely impact of the Omicron variant. Although the Covid strain is present in at least 38 countries, the World Health Organisation says no one has died from it.
Fresh evidence from South Africa, where it’s believed to have started, indicates that its symptoms are generally ‘mild’.
And that point was reinforced yesterday by leading Cambridge statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter, who said: ‘It doesn’t look as if [Omicron] is really severe.’
Yet despite these hugely encouraging signals, the Covid restrictions which brought our economy to its knees are slowly creeping back.
In addition to the rules reintroduced last week on masks, self-isolation and international travel, tomorrow sees the return of pre-departure tests for anyone coming here from abroad.
Aviation industry bosses said the cost and complexity of this policy would be ‘a major deterrent’ to travel over the Christmas period and deal a ‘devastating blow’ to a sector already deep in crisis.
Although the Omicron Covid strain is present in at least 38 countries, the World Health Organisation says no one has died from it (stock image)
It also leaves around a million Britons overseas scrambling to get a test so they are allowed to fly home.
The respected Centre for Economic and Business Research think-tank expects the wider economy to take a £5.3billion hit just from the restrictions brought back so far.
With talk of vaccine passports, more working from home and a return to social distancing, that figure could soon rocket – and countless businesses could lose the battle for survival.
With talk of vaccine passports, more working from home and a return to social distancing, that figure could soon rocket – and countless businesses could lose the battle for survival (stock image)
The Daily Mail sympathises with ministers in their bid to do the right thing. Having been heavily criticised for their slow reaction to the Delta variant this year, they fear being caught out again. But they must also retain a sharp sense of perspective.
Lockdown measures have dire and lasting consequences on the nation’s mental and physical health as well as the economy. In considering any new restriction, they must be certain it’s truly necessary.
Yes, we need to know a lot more about Omicron and its likely impact. But what we know so far suggests there is no need for panic measures.
Breaking the habit
Nearly 3,000 died in England and Wales last year as a result of drug misuse. And to compound that miserable statistic, around half of all burglaries and robberies were committed by drug users desperate to feed their habit.
Meanwhile, pushers make fat profits, comfortable in the knowledge they are unlikely to be caught – and if they are will probably receive a soft sentence.
As Home Secretary Priti Patel writes, this is a national fight in which we all have a huge stake
So Boris Johnson’s ‘ten-year plan’ to come down harder on dealers and recreational users, while giving better treatment to addicts, is both welcome and overdue.
As Home Secretary Priti Patel writes in this paper today, this is a national fight in which we all have a huge stake. There have been many crackdowns in the past, invariably ending in disappointment. This time we must do better.
Fight for free speech
Invoking the spirit of free speech champions such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab vowed yesterday to stop this country’s ‘drift’ towards continental-style privacy laws.
Speaking after the Appeal Court ruling in favour of the Duchess of Sussex in her action against The Mail on Sunday (without even having to go to trial), Mr Raab insisted it should be for Parliament, not judges, to decide where the balance between privacy and free expression lies.
Invoking the spirit of free speech champions such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab vowed to stop this country’s ‘drift’ towards continental-style privacy laws
He rightly says the Human Rights Act needs an overhaul and promises proposals ‘within weeks’.
We applaud his fine words and look forward to his blueprint for a freer Britain.