Who would have thought that just five years after the Brexit referendum, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin and the CBI would be back on the same side. Truly, Covid-19 has made for the strangest of bedfellows.
Both have railed, reasonably, against the new Plan B restrictions which are well on their way to being passed into law this afternoon with the help of the Labour party.
Their frustrations are myriad, but chiefly come down to two grievances: one, that Government is creating what CBI boss Tony Danker calls a ‘lockdown mentality,’ and two, that city centres are being particularly battered by the new restrictions.
They are both right, on both points. One can understand the Government’s desire to up the ante on the need for booster jabs.
The round-the-block queues at the nearest walk-in centre to our office, across the river at Guy’s Hospital in London Bridge, certainly suggested that the pace of the booster rollout is set for a sizable bump.
Putting the fear of God in the British populace with predictions of a million cases a day by the end of the month may be politically expedient, then, but it does not do much for business confidence.
Some rationalism is called for. More than four in 10 Brits over the age of 12 have had the booster jab; within a week that should be comfortably more than half, and by the end of the year so many more than that.
The growing evidence is that this new variant (which will not be the last) is milder than previous strains; ditto, there are growing signs that a booster jab is effective at fighting Omicron.
That is not an argument to ‘let it rip’ but it is a solid enough evidence base to suggest that come January we may be in a position to relax these new rules and allow us to start 2022 on a brighter note than we are currently set for.
If the Government could do its best not to knife the entire hospitality industry in the process, all the better.