Lifting of all COVID restrictions in UK is dangerous

By Tom Fowdy
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 18, 2021
Adjust font size:
Visitors walk past a sign displaying a message to wear a face covering, outside the London Eye, London, Britain, on July 16, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Boris Johnson's U.K. government has been controversial for its catastrophic handling of COVID-19. Pursuing an approach built on populism and short-termism, the decision making and mismanagement of the pandemic by Downing Street has led to over 130,000 deaths.

The pathway to such a grim milestone has been marred by kneejerk U-turns, numerous government scandals, inconsistencies, staggering conflicts of interest and allowing the free proliferation of deadly new variants.

Boris Johnson later gained a reprieve thanks to the pace of the U.K.'s vaccination drive, which has been one of the fastest in the world; nonetheless, his government is again repeating the same mistakes in deciding to completely remove all COVID-19 restrictions on July 19, despite the Delta variant running riot at over 50,000 cases per day.

It's a decision that is fuelled by what people want as opposed to what they need, and is being carried out in the face of scientific advice, placing the country at immense risk.

When it comes to COVID-19, British politics is an ideological struggle between "classical liberty," envisioning people should be able to do what they want through their own desires independent of government, as opposed to the school of thought that believes the government should act in the best interests of the people whether they like it or not.

The former school of debate, situated on the political right, strongly opposes lockdowns and COVID restrictions as an infringement of personal liberty refusing to accept social responsibility or make sacrifices for the greater good.

As Boris Johnson is a right wing, populist Conservative politician, he caters to this sentiment in order to win support; nonetheless, he is compelled to act against the virus, resulting in an extremely inconsistent approach, such as frequently ruling out lockdowns as the virus grows only to then do a U-turn and impose a last moment clampdown.

He has also made his decisions in line with the interests of promoting the U.K. travel industry, as well as catering to people who want to "enjoy summer" as opposed to the greater good. This is what led to a new disaster after the one in the summer of 2020.

Now, the U.K. has succeeded in its vaccination drive. Vaccines are successful in reducing severe infection and death, and this has empowered the liberty advocates to the point of arguing no COVID-19 restrictions are necessary – no masks, no social distancing – they say these are simply unwanted and unwarranted intrusions and annoyances from the State "which stop me doing the things I want to do."

This is emerging despite the Delta variant rampaging and even infecting people who are fully vaccinated. Perhaps there is an argument for no more strict lockdowns, especially given the strain on the U.K. economy, but is it wise to take no precautions or responsibilities whatsoever?

This was branded as callous behavior and deeply irresponsible by the British government, even as "unethical" in a recent letter signed by hundreds of scientists.

What the U.K. government risks by doing this is making COVID-19 a permanent feature of the British landscape. The risk is that new variants could quickly emerge which could transude or escape immunity or the benefits of existing vaccines, creating a never-ending cycle.

The challenge to defeat the virus is ultimately a marathon, not a sprint; it's the one which requires personal responsibility, sacrifice and endurance. Everyone of course wants life to return to normal – this is natural and desirable – but not in such a reckless or profoundly negligent way.

The British government is ultimately appealing to the selfishness, individualism and short-term interests of a constituency of people, which will undoubtedly cost lives. It is this mentality that has made the country's death toll so grim, and unfortunately one worries if it will backfire. 

Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

If you would like to contribute, please contact us at

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from