“Freedom day”, soaring cases and renewed calls for a Public Inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic
While restrictions fall away, pressure mounts for the promised full and frank statutory public inquiry to take place sooner rather than later.
Last week marked the lifting of almost all so-called “Covid restrictions” by the Government, accompanied by a marked shift towards personal autonomy and accountability for what is still a very real and ongoing public health crisis. Some have reveled in their new found freedoms whilst others have withdrawn, cautious and in many cases anxious about the impact relaxing restrictions at this precarious juncture will have.
Whatever your personal position, circumstances and views, what has become abundantly and undeniably clear in recent messages from leading scientists is that, despite continued optimism over the beneficial impact of the vaccination roll-out, we are not out of the woods yet and we will have to learn to live with Covid-19 for quite some time. Indeed, in recent weeks as the Government has determinedly ploughed on with the promised lifting of restrictions, positive cases have soared and so too Covid-related hospital admissions and deaths are on the rise once again with reports of ICUs filling up at alarming rates. There are still very real and grave concerns about the NHS’ ability to cope with this rise in patients and the ongoing risks associated with the rapid spread of more virulent variants and the efficacy of vaccines against both known and future variants, not to mention the vast “unknowns” about the long-term health impacts of Covid.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that the relaxation of restrictions, in what appears to be the early stages of a third wave of the pandemic, has triggered yet more controversy, huge divergence in opinions and once again brought the adequacy and competency of Government decision-making into question. It is also unsurprising in this context that calls for a public inquiry to take place as a matter of urgency have also redoubled. Such an inquiry was promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson over a year ago but the latest from the Government still speaks to a process that will not start until Spring 2022 at the earliest; a date which many consider to be simply unacceptable.
Serious concerns and questions continue to be brought to the fore on a daily basis about the Government’s, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s, decision-making, actions, inactions and attitude towards the crisis and the risk it poses to the lives of those it exists to protect. Just in the last week, Dominic Cummings revealed that Mr Johnson had, in a text sent last October as he resisted calls for a second lockdown, crudely said that those dying from Covid were “essentially all over 80” and “I no longer buy all those NHS overwhelmed stuff”. The shockwaves of Mr Cummings’ revelations permeated much of Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday and saw MP Ian Blackford repeat his call for an immediate public inquiry and comment: “How can anyone have put faith and trust in a prime minster who actually typed the words ‘Get Covid and live longer’?” Meanwhile, scientific adviser and Sage member Sir Jeremy Farrar labelled Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the start of the Inquiry a “disgrace”, accusing the Prime Minister of attempting to protect his reputation by delaying the start of the promised Inquiry stating: “there is absolutely no reason, other than political manoeuvring, to wait”. Many other healthcare professionals and bodies too continue to raise concerns about the impact of lifting restrictions now and are calling out for urgent action to be taken to fast-track the public inquiry such that lessons can be learnt now.
How history will view “freedom day” and the overall handling of the Coronavirus crisis by the Government is yet to be determined but one thing is clear: this pandemic is far from over, answers are needed and lessons need to be learned as quickly as possible if we are to minimise further loss of life to this devastating pandemic and others that we may face in future.
Saunders Law supports calls for an independent statutory public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus.
Saunders Law currently represents core participants in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Infected Blood Inquiry and Undercover Policing Inquiry. If you've been affected by any of the issues raised above, our inquiries team led by Cyrilia Davies Knight are available on +44(0)207 632 4300, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will contact you.