A new mutation of the COVID virus has been announced by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. Those in the know, reckon that the vaccine (being rolled out across the country) should still be effective against it. The virus will, like all other viruses, mutate and there is nothing unnatural about that.
London has just gone onto Tier 3, whereby restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc, will have to shut. If an establishment can offer takeaway, then they can keep open. A spike in the infection rate could have something to do with this new mutation. However, many have criticised the government for putting London and other areas in the southeast in Tier 3. Criticism because at the same the time, the government has given people permission, to meet family members provided they are in the same Christmas bubble. This lessening of the COVID restrictions will last from 23 - 27 December.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, speaking to Sky News appeared to question the validity of this move. Mr Khan told Sky News that "ministers should think again" over the relaxation of rules. Mr Khan went on that "under the present set of guidelines, no one has any obligation to kiss or hug".
Sadiq Khan, in his tenure as Mayor of London, (a job Bojo the clown once held) has come under attack for his handling of the knife crime crisis. Khan always seems to have gone to ground when issues like this, come up. However, when he does appear in public, Cressida Dick of the Met Police is usually by his side. It appears the Mayor and the Chief Met Officer, enjoy a close working relationship, as regards to the issue of knife crime, etc.
Mr Khan in his assertion of the wiseness in relaxing COVID rules over Christmas has scientific backing. Chris Witty, the Chief Medical Officer, has also stated there are inherent dangers in relaxing the rules. One would hope, that the majority of the public would be sensible and observe the rules to keep themselves safe when visiting family (preferably in their bubble). However, there will be those that will put the rules aside and put themselves and others in danger. This will cause another spike in the infection rate.
Chief Secretary to The Treasury, Steve Barclay also appeared on Sky News to defend the government's corner. Mr Barclay said the government had no plans to change rules although he admitted when pushed, the situation is always under review. When asked if "Christmas was cancelled" Mr Barclay said one word: "No".
The question could be posed, why is Mr Khan announcing the dangers now? Is it because he is genuinely concerned about the COVID virus in London or just trying to highlight his credentials to be re-elected as Mayor? (or both).
Politicians are a fickle lot, regardless of political hue, often it is hard to gauge them when making statements. In interviews, politicians particularly when in government, tend to go around the houses when answering questions or indeed, do not answer the question directly.
Sadiq Khan will be facing his Tory counterpart in the Mayoral election in the near future. Shaun Bailey, a black Tory candidate for Mayor has called for a borough by borough lockdown in London. Some see this as sensible as opposed to a blanket one size fits all lockdown for the whole of London. In other words, this borough by borough lockdown would fit with the infection rate of an area of London. Whereas, it appears Khan prefers the government's blanket lockdown of the capital.
Even though many will question the genuineness of Khan's statement, he along with others is right to highlight the dangers of the relaxation. If the government is forced once more to do a u-turn on this, it will probably be at the last moment, as usual.
Other areas like Blackpool, are currently in Tier 3 and are hoping to come down into Tier 2. We have had total lockdowns, partial lockdowns and Tier systems. We lockdown the infection rate comes down, we come out of lockdown, the infection spikes. It seems until a vast majority of the population are protected from the virus (and even then, we may have to observe safety rules) with the vaccine, this carousel of lockdown, come out of lockdown, repeat, will continue.
The long-term question is, even if the whole human population is inoculated, COVID could be around in one form or another, for a very long time. It seems according to some in the scientific community we will never truly be shut of Coronavirus. It is something we will have to live with, maybe one day many years into the future, like other diseases it will be eradicated, but that day will be a long time coming.