It is being called ‘Freedom Day’ but feels no different compared to last week or last month. Sixty-nine weeks to the day since the imposition of the first lockdown here in March 2020 and the idea of lifting all Covid restrictions is being criticised far and wide. In practice, it looks likely that a number of organisations and business sectors in the UK will maintain many or all of the restrictions that have been in place for over a year now. Supermarket chains will still want us to wear masks, as will the London transport network, and the majority of people are probably going to remain sensibly cautious. They are following the data and not the date! With cases of coronavirus infection rising and hospitalisations also increasing it does nevertheless seem that the success of the vaccination rollout in this country means that at least a smaller proportion of those who contract the virus are becoming seriously unwell and the death rate is thankfully fairly low. Nevertheless, people are still getting ill and we have little knowledge yet about any possible long-term effects of having had Covid, even for those who recover from symptoms relatively quickly. What does seem certain is that a not-insignificant number could be experiencing the impacts of the coronavirus for very many months if not years, and the impacts of that on the health service will be considerable. That makes the predictions of between 100,000 and 200,000 coronavirus cases per day as a result of today’s ‘unlocking’ look very scary indeed.
However, with opportunities to meet up and even share hugs with family and friends, with two vaccinations administered and with summer finally here after a miserably cold spring – in great contrast to the lovely weather that made the first months of ‘lockdown 1’ in 2020 bearable – there has been a partial lightening of the pandemic mood for many. This has, however, been tempered in the last week by news of doubly vaccinated friends going down with Covid and the awful devastation and loss of life in Europe resulting from extreme rainfall and flooding. Coupled with record-breaking temperatures and wildfires elsewhere, the list of extreme weather events and the ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere make it clear that whatever measure of ‘freedom’ we may – perhaps only temporarily – experience from Covid, there is no freedom in sight from the climate crisis.
4 July 2021: 417.47 ppm
This time last year: 415.43 ppm
10 years ago: 393.73 ppm
Pre-industrial base: 280
Safe level: 350