JANET STREET-PORTER: If Boris is serious about beating this pandemic he needs to end the great Covid class-divide between the people too privileged to think they’ll get it and the rest of us
It’s New Year and we’re still wearing masks, staying apart and remaining indoors.
That’s become the mandatory lifestyle for 90 per cent of the population. And, whatever Boris promises for the vaccines, you’d better get used to it for a while.
We – the sensible people – enjoyed Christmas dinner cosily alone or in tiny groups, toasting absent friends and loved ones.
The turkey was too big and it’s still in the fridge. Most of the cake remains uneaten. The ham was a mistake – why not bung it in the freezer before it rots?
New Year’s Eve seemed quiet with little to celebrate and freezing weather ensured bedtime wasn’t much after midnight.
But, deep down, most of us thought this year’s scaled-down festivities were acceptable, because we care about others.
We’ve got a social conscience. If a dreary Christmas helped to stop people getting sick and dying, then so be it.
But what about the ‘special’ people who refuse to play by the rules?
Celebs (like boxer and Strictly star Nicola Adams and her girlfriend (pictured) ) who can afford to fly off to the Maldives, claiming it’s a ‘business trip’?
The celebs (like boxer and Strictly star Nicola Adams and her girlfriend) who can afford to fly off to the Maldives, claiming it’s a ‘business trip’?
Or that f***wit from a reality show who thought she could flee quarantine in Barbados (obviously another ‘working’ assignment) when her equally-dumb partner tested positive for Covid on arrival.
Love Island star Zara Holland and Elliott Love were reportedly held in custody in St Lucia after they left compulsory quarantine in their hotel in Barbados and were bound for the airport in a taxi, presumably to try and get on a flight somewhere.
And what about the scores of illegal New Year’s Eve raves and house parties all over the UK which had to be shut down by the police?
You might wonder why London’s Mayor didn’t cancel the city’s annual fireworks, but that would be asking an intelligent question.
Love Island star Zara Holland and Elliott Love (pictured together) were reportedly held in custody in St Lucia after they left compulsory quarantine in their hotel in Barbados and were bound for the airport in a taxi, presumably to try and get on a flight somewhere
Predictably, starved of entertainment for weeks on end, thousands of people flocked to central London, ignoring social distancing to enjoy the free display.
In Essex alone, police issued fines of over £18,000 to people breaking the strict rules for Tier 4, and it was the same story in Blackburn, Brighton, Norfolk, London’s docklands and Greater Manchester.
Hundreds and hundreds of dumb people who think that they are somehow immune to this new super-contagious strain of Covid-19.
I’m surprised there’s not more social unrest, that the sensible majority tolerate this unbelievably self-centred and thoughtless behaviour on the part of (mostly) young people and tragic ravers whose life just wouldn’t be worth living unless they could lay their hands on some class-A drugs and writhe around in a disused warehouse to ear-splitting music.
When the government decided to enforce stricter tiers before Christmas, surely all international travel should have been banned?
Instead, thousands of wealthy people flocked to the Caribbean, the Maldives, to ski resorts in Switzerland and Middle East resorts like Dubai, determined to award themselves a fun ‘break’ after putting up with the huge inconvenience of months of lockdown.
Influencers need exposure, so they need to be able to change outfits at least three times a day – which makes the glamorous ski resorts like Aspen and exclusive resorts like St Barts so appealing.
There’s nothing like a costly winter break to emphasise the ever-growing chasm between the rich and the coping-as-best-we-can majority.
If I see another picture of a Kardashian in a tasteless fur coat, crop top and ski boots I’ll scream. Ditto Karen Brady’s daughter Sophia and her daily bikini report from Dubai.
These pictures don’t cheer me up. They are acutely depressing because I have a horrible feeling that – when they deign to return to dreary old lockdown UK – a large number of these sun-kissed babes and fashion-savvy skiers will somehow magically disappear into the ether should they test positive for Covid.
Again, I fear they’ll assume that ‘special’ rules apply because they are celebs or flush with cash – the kind of special rules that Rita Ora always seems to use when she conveniently ‘forgets’ about social distancing and quarantine regulations after a money-making gig in another country.
When Boris, Chris Whitty and JVT stand up at their press conferences entreating us to wear masks, stay at home, limit shopping trips and only travel for work it seems as if they are speaking in a language the likes of Zara Holland and Nicola Adams have not yet mastered.
Meanwhile, the police, the Border forces, airport staff and medics tasked with carrying out Covid tests on travellers are bearing the brunt of this blatant manipulation of the rules, as they are also required to break up stabbings (stabbing on Edgware Road on New Year’s Eve, pictured), gang meets, midnight raves and drunken parties, forced to move on and test people who could be highly infectious
Meanwhile, the police, the Border forces, airport staff and medics tasked with carrying out Covid tests on travellers are bearing the brunt of this blatant manipulation of the rules, as they are also required to break up stabbings, gang meets, midnight raves and drunken parties, forced to move on and test people who could be highly infectious.
Like nurses and NHS staff, they deserve huge bonuses for this front-line work.
The only step left to Boris now is to issue a national curfew. He should use it to give the police a rest.
He must bring in new legislation allowing them to slap anyone found on the streets after 9pm without written permission into a cold, unpleasant cell.
Throughout this second wave of Covid, Boris has consistently tried to avoid being seen as authoritarian. He’s dithered about tiers, dithered about local lockdowns and dithered about foreign travel.
With the infection rate spiraling out of control, he has to accept that there should be one set of rules for everyone in the UK, no matter what they earn, who they are related to, what their social media profile is and no matter what their age.
Meanwhile, our hospitals can hardly cope, our nurses are at breaking point and doctors say there is not enough respiratory equipment, forcing them to make life or death decisions when faced with seriously ill patients.
And what about the dedicated ambulance staff, cooped up in their vehicles with highly infectious patients for hours at a time, queuing outside A and E departments waiting for an admission slot? Why should these workers have to treat anyone who caught Covid or is spreading it after flouting the rules the majority of us are adhering to?
Maybe our airport hotels and army bases should be requisitioned as compulsory quarantine facilities for all returning travelers. That might make a few people think twice about flying away to ‘escape’.
Covid is a problem we all have to deal with. Not just normal, decent people.
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