Boris Johnson wants to restore our freedoms - but will we thank him for it in the long run?

Credit: PA

Everywhere in my life - within my family, friendships, workplace - somebody I know has Covid-19 or is in quarantine. If this is a foretaste of “living with Covid-19” - as Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid wish us to do after all mandatory restrictions and protections are removed on 19 July - it is stressful and messy. The PM and health secretary say the return to this so-called normal will be good for the economy, good for jobs, good for our mental health. That feels a challenging claim when the virus is raging - as it is - and businesses have no idea who will be turning up for work tomorrow.

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Ending the requirement for vaccinated contacts to isolate might reduce the absences in the short term. But if the data out of Israel about the reduced efficacy of the Pfizer jabs against the Delta variant is correct, then the end of quarantine for contacts would multiply the surge after a couple of weeks or so. It will be fascinating and important to learn Johnson’s plans for the isolation of infected contacts.

The PM is taking a significant risk today. Hospitalisations are significantly lower than during previous waves, but they are now rising again. The rolling weekly rate of increase in admissions to hospitals has doubled in just a few days from 10% to almost 25%. This is troubling. It is not an anomaly. Johnson is under pressure from many of his MPs to return our precious freedoms to us. He is about to oblige. The British people will only thank him if that restoration of precious ancient liberties - to see who we want, where we want, how we want - is not premature and does not yield chaos.