Will we ever go back into lockdown? And, if we are ordered to, will we ever take it seriously again?
In a week in which “mortified” Boris Johnson has been fined for partying while the rest of us were locked up under his orders, it’s hard to envisage universal compliance in future. The genie is out of the prosecco bottle.
The Prime Minister has been found guilty of breaking the law — and more fines may well follow. But before we, the citizenry, storm the Downing Street ramparts with pitchforks and stake, the PM’s friends have been swift to rush to his defence.
It was his birthday. A few colleagues wanted to wish him many happy returns. Some had merely popped their heads around the door. Carrie was there with baby, Wilfred. And Boris was there for less than 10 minutes.
As for the previous defence of “ambushed by cake”, it’s now clarified that, yes, okay, there was a cake but it never left its Tupperware box. Instead the PM had a quick salad before heading on to a meeting.
Why no cake?
Perhaps Carrie was there to ensure that Boris, not long out of hospital with Covid, stuck to the quinoa and roasted broccoli and swerved the Victoria sponge.
It’s claimed that everyone there observed social distancing. They all worked with each other on a daily basis anyway. Still, you’d maybe think twice about bringing wee Wilfred along to join that lot.
Anyway, knees up or not, the damage is done. Boris has previously signalled that he‘s not keen on a return to strict Covid regulations. That position may have to change as circumstances demand, but the reality is that any authority he and his government had regarding restrictions is now utterly compromised.
For the time being at least, lockdown is firmly back in its Tupperware box.
But Boris, Rishi and their partying chums aside, there’s another reason why the populace may never tolerate another Covid curfew. Lockdown fatigue.
Globally, in many countries draconian restrictions continue to apply. The most startling example comes from Shanghai, China, where authorities have imposed the sort of robust lockdown that SAGE can only dream of. Citizens have been imprisoned in their homes with only two people per apartment block allowed out on a daily basis to collect essentials.
Households had been told that food could be ordered online and would be brought to their doors but, in a display of incompetence worthy of Stormont, the relevant authorities failed to deliver.
Many homes have since run out of not just food but water too. People testing positive — even though they are not experiencing symptoms — have been sent to isolation centres which are described as overcrowded, unhygienic and utterly lacking in privacy.
Children have been taken from their parents.
Household pets have been confined indoors which is fine if you have a budgie but not so great if you have a Labrador that needs to be walked every day.
This week saw civil unrest and looting as distressed locals finally snapped and ransacked the supermarkets. Videos on social media show people shouting from tower blocks like caged animals yelling to be free.
Compulsory mass testing has revealed that there are currently around 25,000 cases per day in Shanghai. The city, however, has a population of 25m and many of the omicron cases are very mild or asymptomatic.
What the Chinese authorities want to stop is further rampant spread. There, as here, the fear is of the total collapse of an already rickety health service due to the additional pressure of pandemic.
The Chinese people have long been under authoritarian rule and so tend to be more biddable than, say, us.
And in fairness there is no evidence of China’s President Xi clandestinely swigging beer and/or prosecco in contravention of his own rules. How acquiescent would the population of Shanghai be if they had the likes of Boris in charge?
Back in the UK the truth is that even if the PM should fall on his sword (or cake knife) it’s not just disgust at his behaviour which would make another imposed lockdown unpalatable for many.
The vaccination programme has been a great success. People have been getting on with their lives. We’ve all had it up to here with house arrest.
Right now there’s about as much appetite for another lockdown as there was, seemingly, for that spurned cake at Boris’s birthday shindig.
price of everything is going through the roof it’s hard to compute the £3m bill for the nuptials of Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz.
How can you actually spend that much on a wedding? She wore three couture bridal gowns (not all at once) and he chose Dior and a diamond encrusted gold chain.
The bash lasted for three days. Doubtless everybody had a ball — or several. But all that money, all that excess, was it really worth it? Odd how extravagance so often just looks cheap.
This Easter, Swedish furniture chain IKEA is selling a flatpack chocolate bunny, which is not only a tasty treat but a genius piece of marketing.
Disappointingly, for those who like a bit of a challenge, the bunny has only three component parts so it’s way easier to put together than the firm’s modular storage units.
In other chocolate-related news this week, the Queen’s former chef has revealed that Her Maj just loves the stuff. Maybe IKEA could do her a flatpack chocolate corgi?
Kenny Shiels is the brilliant manager of the NI Women’s football team, a committed champion of women in sport and, by all accounts, a gentleman.
The team he coaches are utterly inspirational. But all this is being overshadowed by a few silly, inappropriate comments he made about “emotional” female players. From time to time, we all “misspeak” as Hillary Clinton once put it.
I bet his team members have had a few words with Kenny on the subject. But let’s remember, he’s done more for women’s sport than most of his critics. The man’s a hero.