It’s July 18th and we stand on the cusp of Freedom Day. Except it really doesn’t feel like it. Swathes of society from the Cabinet to school kids to footballs fans are in self-isolation and daily cases are back at the kind of levels that saw us entering Tier 4 (remember Tiers?) in December. It’s tricky to feel like tomorrow will be particularly freer than today is, especially as Nathan and I are on day 4 of 7 in self-isolation (the kids, thankfully, were out of contact range). It feels about as far from freedom as you can get, given we can’t even leave the house. But yet we’re pressing on with Freedom Day tomorrow.
I know that the vaccinations are helping to deal with the severity of infections. I know hospital admissions are down for now. And I know about the metal health issues caused by months and months of bleak lockdown and the devastating effect the lockdown has had on the arts and events sectors.
It’s just hard to cheer our new freedoms when the data is not cheering us back:
And what even are these new freedoms? We will still have to wear masks on the tube and all other TfL services. Institutions are starting to come out and say that face masks will still be mandatory, so it seems likely that days out this summer will still be masked and distanced, end-to-end. Which, I gotta admit, does not sound much like freedom to me.
So what’s actually changing tomorrow? Will nightclubs reopen so we can go to sweaty raves with thousands of other people, even as we have to still wear masks in Tesco? Will the PM tweet about the glorious conquering of the pandemic even as he self-isolates? I don’t have the answers….goodness, if I did then trust me…I would have Chris Whitty on speed dial. The most realistic scenario is that we will spend a few weeks wandering about over the summer in masks, basically still restricted, and then go back into some kind of lockdown in the autumn. My hopes of a “normal” choir Christmas season are fading as rapidly as my freezer is emptying itself of ice lollies.
If you have any more positive predictions, I would love to hear them! And enjoy Freedom Day…