The Coronavirus Act Extension Proves This Won’t be the Last Lockdown – Conservative Article
The Coronavirus Act passed a year ago gave the government immense power to intrude on our lives and enforce lockdowns on the nation; not once but three times. Johnson himself has stated that the easing of this lockdown was a “one-way road to freedom”. However, the renewing of this act proves the opposite of this statement. It allows for the government to keep the power to impose restrictions on our lives, despite no need for them.
These powers are far too excessive for what is needed right now to keep COVID at bay. The main threat is a third wave coming over from Europe, where those countries have failed to keep the virus down. In which case, what is needed is stronger border control. Unfortunately, for a government voted in on the premise of ‘taking back control of our borders’, this policy has been lacking.
Hotel quarantine measures need to be extended to all countries. Or an even stricter measure would be to ban anyone coming over from the continent except trade. The threat of a fourth national lockdown is not needed to control any spread that comes from the continent.
And that’s really what renewing this act is. A threat. It’s a threat saying, “We did say this would be the last lockdown, but we might renege on that at any point”. This cannot be the way society returns to life after the pandemic; with a six-month threat of this act over our heads.
It creates a strong sense of uncertainty, and that’s never good for anyone. That will hurt our recovery in the short term and do significant damage if those powers are used in the long term. We should be able to relax, safe in the knowledge that the lockdowns are finally over, not constantly checking the news with dread to see if the powers will be used.
What’s shocking to me is that Labour didn’t provide an ounce of opposition to this bill. They instead said that they would unenthusiastically support the government. Tory MPs put up more opposition than this. The Liberal Democrats stepped up this time to fill the role Labour should be occupying; voting as a coherent bloc against the renewal.
Ed Davey’s critique is one I share, if all legal restrictions end on 21 June, then why have this draconian act in place for three months after that? I understand winding down the furlough gradually after restrictions end, businesses will need support still after their doors can open. There will still be an economic crisis. The health crisis will be over after June, as there will be no more extraordinary measures in place that would define it.
It is clear that if the government has these powers, it will inevitably find a way to justify using them. If (when?) a third wave blows over from the continent, it’s clear we could be facing more months trapped inside our homes; a stopped economy just after we tried to get it started again.
This stop-start routine is no way for anyone to live life, no matter how much support is offered. Cycling lockdowns can’t be the way that we deal with the winter uptick of the virus, that must be done through altering vaccines to counter the many variants, just like how we adapt the flu vaccine each year. Vaccines were supposed to lead us to freedom, but with this act still in place, it is hard to think they will.
Our liberties are not something that should be threatened. This act should have been allowed to expire in order to prove that the government is committed to getting our lives back to normal and giving us our freedom back. Otherwise, our freedom can be taken away again at a moment’s notice.
Perhaps there are still elements of this act that need to be kept. In which case, I’m sure it would have been possible for the government to extend those specific provisions and not extend everything. People have been through enough, and we cannot go back again.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
A Difficult Debate Based on Unpredictability – A Labour Response
Kieran has provided a compelling argument against yet another lockdown and the respective act that allows this. I’m sure it’s an argument that many will agree with. However, the unpredictability of the past year makes this a more difficult debate, extending beyond a simple yes or no question.
I can echo Kieran, and I’m sure many others, by saying I don’t want to see another lockdown for a long time. But I also have to question one of Kieran’s statements. Is anything really too excessive to keep COVID at bay? The past year has been home to a plethora of unprecedented measures. No one expected the first lockdown to last as long as it did and I’m sure no one expected to still be living under restrictions one year later.
As frustrating as it is, we all saw the spike in cases when restrictions were lifted last summer and the impact of children returning to school and groups socialising indoors. The impact was very real and I imagine it would only have worsened without the second and third lockdown measures.
The imposition of the subsequent lockdowns saved a number of lives. If the extension of the coronavirus act powers provides a safety net to once again prevent the loss of life, then surely it is a logical extension?
However, I completely empathise with Kieran’s frustrations. I am sure these are echoed across the UK and the rest of the world. Individuals have lost jobs, small businesses have collapsed, and families have been left without sufficient support. People are struggling and we can’t ignore this.
Whether an additional lockdown is necessary, and I really hope it isn’t, the economic burden of the past year needs to be dealt with accordingly. An extension of the furlough scheme and economic support packages for small businesses is a good start. But there is undeniably a great deal more that can and needs to be done.
Let’s look towards the positives though, something a lot of people are trying to do to avoid the misery that is lockdown 3.0. It seems that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Boris Johnson’s roadmap, and those of the other three UK nations, are more realistic than any previous easing of restrictions. And the vaccine effort has been a great success so far and I have no doubt this will continue into the summer.
There is a sense that normality will soon be resumed. I truly hope this is the case, that the extension of the Coronavirus Act is merely a safety net; that there will be no need for yet another lockdown. Let’s hope that the unpredictability of the pandemic is behind us.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Another Lockdown Must Be Avoided – A Liberal Response
I agree with Kieran’s argument that a fourth lockdown should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, when vaccines were either not developed or distributed widely enough, lockdowns proved to be the most effective way of stopping the spread of coronavirus. The lockdowns, therefore, relieved pressure on the NHS. However, the economic and mental health impact of lockdowns will come to the fore now and for years to come.
Being isolated and unable to enjoy the freedoms people were so used to before Covid will condemn this country to economic difficultly and a lasting mental health crisis long after lockdown. Therefore, it is essential that a fourth lockdown is avoided.
Thus far, the vaccine rollout has proven to be a success. We were told that this was our route out of lockdowns. So, I agree with Kieran, why hang this threat of a fourth lockdown over our heads? If such a situation did occur, I fear that levels of compliance would be comparatively extremely low.
I have to agree with the government’s sentiment that easing of lockdown restrictions should be cautious but irreversible. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves and prompt the third wave of Covid in the UK. Perhaps there is a compromise. Perhaps the UK Government should have extended the Coronavirus Act, but by a shorter period of time; let’s say a month. This would cover any possibilities that they may have to put back some of the lockdown easing dates as they’ve said they may have to do. However, the positive news is that we are on track and current restrictions are being eased.
Overall I agree with Kieran. The renewal of the Coronavirus Act, at best, makes me uneasy. No one, for the reasons I have outlined, wants to see another lockdown; especially if it is no longer necessary. And, yes, I even think that much tighter border control is a more preferable option than a fourth lockdown.
Perhaps in years to come, when the UK government comes under scrutiny, the failure to better monitor our borders will be highlighted. My compromising suggestion is to extend the act by a much shorter period of time. This will cover the possibility that the lockdown-easing roadmap may have to be delayed at any point.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Ben Sturt