Only a true Scrooge would begrudge the Government’s reported plans to open up the country for a Christmas spectacular.
But, well, here we are. Such a move betrays the fundamental lack of thought at the heart of the Government’s strategy – or lack thereof.
The plan, as we understand it, is to allow for household mixing once again for a five-day bash across the festive period.
That would of course allow families to come together again, in many cases for the first time in nine months, for the happiest time of the year.
All very jolly: or at least it was, until Public Health England today corrected earlier guidance to confirm that for each of those days of some version of liberation, we’d be back under lock and key for another five days.
By any sensible logic, then, the Government’s plan for five days on the brandy with Nan is a month-long shutdown in January.
What price that for the economy? For jobs? For businesses already looking at an Excel spreadsheet which at this point displays only varying shades of red?
This newspaper sees little evidence for London being kept under lockdown restrictions of any severity after December 2. The numbers and the data in the capital simply don’t support it. In more than half of boroughs, cases were falling before Lockdown 2.
It’s our contention that the Government should give London the chance to kick back into life with all the gusto it can muster.
But that does not seem where the Government is moving. We’re back to apocalyptic predictions of lockdowns for months. Even the relatively chirpy Jonathan Van Tam thinks it’ll be summer before we’re back to normal.
So the Government’s plan is tortoise-like – slow and steady wins the Covid race.
The argument runs that the economy will recover quicker from a short and sharp blast of circuit-breakers and firebreaks or ‘enhanced’ tiers or whatever lockdowns are called this week than it would a longer period of hokey-cokey lockdowns and liberations.
But a Christmas free for all – if you take the Government’s logic that we are still under threat – would therefore guarantee precisely that latter scenario.
So what’s the strategy? Where’s the exit route? Where are the numbers that define what Tier this global capital is going to be plunged back into? How do we register success? Can businesses open on December 2?
Christmas will be a welcome burst of frivolity in a year of constant grimness.