Nothing "balanced" about the risk: not of C-19, nor of C-apitalism
Johnson appeared in the last of the current series of his “Daily Show” this Tuesday. Flanked by his well-behaved scientific advisors, he announced that "the long national hibernation was coming to an end"! Yes, it was now going to be safe to re-open pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, camp sites, hotels... And, what's more, it would be possible to reduce the 2m distancing to "one metre plus"! All this, because one could trust "the great British public's common sense" to understand and "mitigate" the risks involved.
Even Johnson’s advisors showed some unease. After all, the risk of infection is known to be 2-10 times greater at 1m. But Chief Medical Officer Whitty decided that “on balance, it’s reasonable”, as long as there is "mitigation, like screens, ventilation and cleaning..."
Yet again, he failed to advise the compulsory wearing of masks or face coverings in all settings, despite the evidence. This goes against the British Medical Association's latest statement and documented experience on the ground, in Austria, Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere, where effective virus control has been achieved thanks to mask-wearing.
What is more, it seems that contact tracing, which has turned into a bit of a fiasco (depending on which "damn" statistics you believe) is now to be done by pub owners and restaurateurs, who are to take the details of whoever buys a pint or a plate of chips!
Of course, it would only have been safe to relax lock down measures if there was reliable "test, track and trace" in place, with a phone app to identify contacts unknown to someone with Covid-19. This was what the government itself said. But last week, it announced that it was going to ditch its £12m contract-tracing app. Suddenly, from being a key part of the “track and trace strategy”, it became merely “the icing on the cake”. But the cake itself has barely been baked. According to data collected by the Office of National Statistics, the government's 25,000 contact tracers could be failing to find (and isolate) from a third to three-quarters of those infected.
Obviously, it's not "science" nor "balance" behind this downgrading of risk. The government's models weigh up how many will die, literally, against the number of pounds businesses will go on losing. And while it's true that this killer-coronavirus initially shocked politicians into putting their capitalist system on ice, now they're defrosting at speed. It's unbalanced risk, in favour of their money-makers and against the working class. To tip the balance back in our favour - and save lives, let alone jobs - we have no option but to fight them.