This week marks a significant easing of all restrictions and I know each person reading this will have their own thoughts and feelings about what these changes mean for them and their loved ones.
After such a lengthy period with our lives curtailed in countless ways, I understand that for many people this marks a long-awaited opportunity to get back to normal.
For others, aware that they haven’t the benefit of the full protection of the vaccine, they may be filled with dread at the knowledge that cases are on the rise again whilst restrictions are lifted.
Bedford and Kempston residents have shown such resilience and community spirit and I urge us to all to keep summoning up that desire to look out for each other and find the compassion to consider others as we navigate through the changes this week.
In politics, “Freedom Day” certainly got off to a farcical start as the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Health Secretary began their second day of Covid isolation.
In one of his first acts as the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid and the PM and the Chancellor were subsequently “pinged” by test and trace to isolate for 10 days.
Except they then all tried to get around the law by declaring themselves participants in trial allowing them to go about their business as normal, taking a test every day.
Millions of parents around the country who missed their kids’ sports days; all the children who missed their end-of-term parties or indeed the last week of term; business owners who lost staff due to self-isolation – they all may have liked to try that pilot scheme too, but very few have been given the opportunity.
The ensuing public outcry forced the fastest U-turn in history, with the PM allegedly taking the law with a pinch of salt by hot-footing it to Chequers where he could isolate in more pleasant surroundings.
Once again, the PM’s disdain for following the rules he himself brought about and his belief that he is above the law is there for all to see.
He thought he would follow in the footsteps of Michael Gove. The Cabinet Secretary was also coincidentally selected for the trial and avoided having to self-isolate when he received an alert from the Covid app after attending the Champions League final in Portugal last month.
It’s one rule for them, another for everybody else.
So here we are again; Covid infection rates are soaring to the point where people, including children who are clinically vulnerable, feel forced to go back into hiding.
Meanwhile, so many people are being pinged by the test and trace app that the economy is struggling to function. The Prime Minister’s double-speak, lifting all restrictions whilst telling everyone to remain cautious, is not freedom at all.
It’s chaos, confusion, and cronyism at the heart of this government.
To bring infections down, the pilot scheme for testing should be open to all vaccinated individuals. We need to fix financial support for isolation once and for all and provide Government-backed grants to fund a mass ventilation programme for workplaces and schools.
Until then, like many people who are double vaccinated, I will continue to wear my mask while using public transport or in poorly ventilated areas indoors.
Unlike the PM, I want to stop the virus from spreading and I don’t want to gamble on high infection rates delivering a vaccine busting variant. I want to ensure that I protect the not-yet vaccinated who were patient enough to protect the older generation in the earlier months of the pandemic.
Do enjoy the ease in restrictions, but please be respectful to others, follow the Covid-19 safety guidance as much as possible, and please get your vaccine.
If not for yourself, then for the sake of others – whose lives may literally depend on it.
This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin MP and published unedited.