The government, ignoring the science, talks of freedom. But true liberty comes from cutting infections so people feel safe
Calls for the government to introduce extra measures to contain Covid have grown louder. At the last count these came from the NHS Federation, the British Medical Association, Macmillan Cancer, the behaviours and modelling subcommittees of the emergency science group Sage, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, regional public health directors and metropolitan mayors. Yet the government has responded by saying it sees no need for restrictions, and that it is opposed to lockdown in all forms.
What is telling here is not only the decision not to act, but the way in which the government’s framing of the issues serves to justify that decision. Covid measures are characterised as Covid restrictions or even a lockdown. Those calling for action can thereby be characterised as fanatics who want to remove our liberty while the government presents itself as defender of our freedoms, preserving “normality”.
Stephen Reicher is a member of the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioural science