By Tom Penn
So a mere two cases of a new variant, of ‘unknown’ severity and transmissibility, and Boris Johnson deems this ample justification to tighten up travel restrictions and mask policy. How swiftly he morphs from buffoonish Peppa Pig World aficionado to real life tyrannical Wild Boar.
Incredulous that the real moronic variant, our Prime Minister, had the audacity to sell the nation the post-Freedom Day red herring of we must learn to live with the ever-mutating virus, to then at the merest whiff of a new mutation, slam the brakes on this ethos and start reversing the fake emergency back up the endless switchbacks of Zero-Covid mountain.
We know full well by now what a three-week return to ‘mandatory’ mask usage actually means: another entire winter and spring of faceless automatons on the high street, and stifled children forced to adopt brand Covid in classrooms across the country all over again. Above although, it means yet more precious months of life lost to Johnson’s good-pig bad-pig approach to national resilience: the stoic, patriotic fortitude instilled in the public via his campaign of mass-frailty by stealth.
Flanked at Saturday’s press conference by his two piglets Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister stressed that he was not ‘going to stop people travelling’, but was merely reintroducing the need for PCR testing for anyone entering the UK, as if having one’s brain stabbed via one’s nasal cavity multiple times with a carcinogenic cotton-bud – in the name of vanquishing a nevertheless engineered enemy – was now a mundane, everyday aspect of overseas travel comparable to packing sufficient underwear.
It seems that the travel industry could be the target of another long winter of spanner-throwing from Westminster, and the prospects of a dose of hard-won winter sunshine, or a trip to visit dear friends and relatives abroad are already looking somewhat bleak with the immaculately-timed threat of Omicron.
So much for scrapping all Covid-19 travel testing in January then, but that was always a canard wasn’t it Mr Prime Minister. All you meant by tossing that crumb of optimism our way was that, by then, we simply shan’t be able to travel at all without having been vaccinated.
This is the new normal kicking in proper. Turns out Johnson’s storm clouds were not long in arriving, and they’re now starting once again, and with grim predictability, to release the miserable drizzle of their public health controls from the kindergarten science within which they are housed, Vallance earning his snout at the State’s winter trough with this sharp analysis: ‘if it spreads very fast, of course it’s going to spread very fast and go into a lot of places, and if it spreads less fast it’s going to do so less.’ Genius.
Ever the most sombre and downbeat of all Johnson’s little Covid pigs, Chris Whitty was unsurprisingly unable to illuminate the public further on just why two cases of the Omicron variant justifies a turning of the non-pharmaceutical intervention screw: ‘there is a reasonable chance that at least there will be some degree of vaccine escape with this variant’, he said before then going feebly on to endorse Johnson’s urgent intention to nevertheless ‘boost the booster campaign’ as surety.
According to UKHSA data, in relation to the prevailing variant(s) the vaccine doesn’t just enjoy ‘some degree’ of escape, but is dancing atop our vaccine wall of defence, trousers down and flaunting its inefficacy in the face of hospitals up and down the country. Quite how a third shot of it will therefore create a bulwark against Omicron is a riddle only a drunk mason can solve, but with three weeks now at their disposal to snuffle around for the right ratio of fear-based patriotism, I’m sure the Prime Minister’s little pigs will persuade the nation to increase uptake somehow.
Having watched on patiently, and silently, as other European countries released not interventionist drizzle, but hail upon their citizenries, Johnson himself has now satisfactorily gauged what he feels he can get away with, for now. Then, once his three-week circuit-breaker of fearmongering approaches expiry, along shall come, as is now tradition in the new normal, the great sorrowful, pre-Christmas winter announcement of increased restrictions.
The majority of the nation will now obediently double-down on mask usage; it’s completely evading their attention that many of the countries currently experiencing case-surges (or more accurately, increased testing) have paradoxically endured far stricter mask policies than Britain ever has. They will be the same people self-harming with the face-uniform in winter 2023, when Johnson announces the presence of a single case of the Baffin Island variant, or when Vallance announces he had a dream about a variant spread by houseflies.
At the time of writing gov.uk’s face covering guidance remains to be updated, and one can only assume therefore that the power to self-assert a mask-exemption still applies for now, but it shall regardless likely be another winter war of dirty, disapproving looks shot the way of the unmasked, and judging by the amount of face covering signage already in-situ since Freedom Day, I dare say that many an establishment, their terror amplified by Omicron, will now begin refusing to acknowledge exemptions.
A prohibition on non-clinically-validated mask-exemptions, another lockdown, vaccine passports, or a universal vaccine mandate: three weeks to figure out which you’d like to try next Prime Minister, but be aware that the adrenaline of the self-determined is rising: spike it, if you dare.
Either way, you really have proven yourself this time, and beyond all reasonable doubt, an absolute swine of a man.