The desperate dash of thousands of Britons to get home from France by 4am this morning reflects poorly on the Government. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, insists that going abroad was always going to be a gamble in the middle of a pandemic, but the least the Government could have done was give travellers a sense of the odds. Only yesterday did Mr Shapps reveal the benchmark for closing the travel corridor: when a foreign destination hits an infection rate of 20 cases out of 100,000. He presumably did not pluck this number out of the air, in which case why were people not given this figure, along with its scientific rationale, ages ago – before they booked their trips?
This is about a lot more than ruined holidays. Returnees buying passage home have had to pay over the odds for tickets in order to meet the deadline; those who could not get back face a 14-day quarantine that may put their jobs at risk. Their employers will be in dire straits, too. The tourism industry is in jeopardy and bilateral relations with France, Malta and the Netherlands, the three largest countries affected by this week’s measures, will worsen – at a time when we are already negotiating with France to help stem the flow of migrants across the Channel.
Quarantine is lacking in nuance: tourists who have practised careful social distancing while abroad in areas with low or even zero cases are affected just as badly as those who have not. Business groups have asked for sub-national quarantines targeted at those returning from the worst affected regions, or else a testing regime like Germany’s, whereby passengers who test negative on arrival can avoid having to self-isolate. Heathrow’s chief executive has described our present system as “quarantine roulette”.
It all points back to basic errors within Britain’s Covid strategy, including serious deficiencies with the test and trace regime. The UK’s first attempt at an app was a disaster, abandoned over issues of accuracy and privacy. Trials for a new app were launched this week; so far, simulations suggest三级成人视频 that even this may only be right half the time.
三级成人视频Britain’s inability to get a grip on this basic technological task is a story of centralisation and reluctance to work with the private sector, characteristics that have dogged the Government’s pandemic strategy from day one. Another is that ministers too often act as if running to catch up, even if problems have been gestating for a while.
For an entire generation, this week will also be remembered as the nadir of English A-level results: than predicted. Again, ministers must have been able to see the fiasco coming, yet only at the last minute did they tweak the system to provide some remedy to particularly unfair outcomes.
When a state lacks data, when its mechanisms are clumsy, it has to respond to challenges with a sledgehammer – for when a state overreacts, it is rarely a sign of strength but of institutional weakness. Britain needs information and consistency, to give us the confidence to go back to school or to work. Instead, months into this pandemic, it still feels as if Covid-19 is calling all the shots.