We’re sliding into a Christmas covid crisis that could be avoided - Christa Ackroyd

I may have got out the wrong side of bed this morning. It does happen from time to time.

Usually the John Lewis Christmas advert makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This year my first thoughts were if an alien landed here she’d probably not stay long.

The advert in question is a pretty enough snowy scene recalling first experiences of the festive season. How lovely. But will we get to share in it this year? In case you haven’t heard, it would seem the jury, or at least the medical experts, are still out on that one. So, as my mum used to say, what on earth are we playing at?

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Am I the only one listening any more to the medical experts who are still refusing to rule out another lockdown? The next 10 days, they say, will be critical.

Are we becoming too complacent about covid as we approach the festive period? (PA).Are we becoming too complacent about covid as we approach the festive period? (PA).
Are we becoming too complacent about covid as we approach the festive period? (PA).

The World Health Organisation put it another way. The most effective way to get on top of the pandemic, which is still seeing around 9,000 hospitalisations a week in the UK, is to act before it takes hold. Not respond to it when it does. In other words, lead from the front. Something we seem incapable of doing.

And what does Boris do to ram home the message that face masks and social distancing remain important? Sit beside 95-year-old national treasure Sir David Attenborough at the climate conference in Glasgow without a face mask. Lord give me strength.

I care not a jot that Downing Street suggested that Boris had worn a mask and that it was just an unfortunate photograph. The message it sent out was completely at odds with the message from his chief medical advisers in the last few days. And don’t get me started on the private planes that brought delegates to a meeting to discuss reducing carbon emissions.

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How are we supposed to behave responsibly when our leaders seemingly laugh in our faces? The message seems to be do as I say, not as I do.

Elsewhere they are not dithering. They are not taking chances. In the US this week Joe Biden announced it will be mandatory for 100 million workers to be double jabbed by the New Year.

That means public-health workers, government contractors and anyone who works in a company with more than a hundred employees. Good job, Joe (though your 20-car cavalcade to attend a climate-change summit seemed more than a little ironic).

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In Australia, our eldest has just returned to work as a teacher after yet another lockdown. By the beginning of next month if she isn’t doubled jabbed then she can’t teach. And before you ask, of course she has been. She is too sensible to listen to the rants of anti-vaxxers.

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What’s more, the children she teaches have to wear masks in the classroom.

In fact they have to wear masks everywhere, as does everyone else. And what are we doing? Suggesting a private member’s bill that will make it law to ban school closures when we know that is where the vast majority of infection is emanating from.

Let me tell you what else is happening in New South Wales. They are this week easing the rules on gatherings with friends and family. Business premises are reopening but only with one person per square metre. Nightclubs are reopening. So are pools and other leisure facilities.

In other words from next week it will be business as usual but with one huge stipulation. The rules are only being relaxed for those who are fully vaccinated. And wherever they go, into shops, cafes or places of work, they have to show their vaccination certificates.

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The rest have to stay put until at least 95 per cent of the population is double jabbed. In a population of 25 million they have only had 2,000 deaths. I wonder why?

Meanwhile we still haven’t decided whether NHS workers should be vaccinated as the care-home sector warns of staff shortages when the mandatory vaccinations come into force in a few days. We know how it spreads and we know who are the most vulnerable, so what are we waiting for?

There are signs that infections may be starting to come down and No 10’s expert advisory panel has said that if people’s behaviour remains cautious then the NHS might not be pushed to the brink by Covid this winter. Do you think people are still being cautious? Because I don’t.

Mask wearing seems to have gone out the window. If you think I am being unnecessarily gloomy I am simply taking my lead not from the Prime Minister but from the experts.

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Professor Jonathan Van Tam says he still “can’t predict it” and that things are “running too hot” so early in autumn. What is more he warns of a “potentially problematic” Christmas and “hard months to come”.

It was up to the government, he said, to judge whether masks should be brought back, which is fine unless you have a PM who sometimes wears one and sometimes doesn’t.

No, Boris, it is not up to us to make a judgement, as you said this week. That, I am afraid, is your job. Because, quite honestly, without a hard-hitting campaign with clear advice the vast majority are no longer listening to your experts. We are all sick of it and wish it was all over. But it is not. Far from it.

I am concerned we are heading for a fall – and that is not a fall in Covid rates. I fear we are sliding into a Christmas crisis which could be avoided.

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The message from the Government might be as clear as mud but here is my message to you: if you haven’t been jabbed then what have you been waiting for? Christmas?

And if you are called for your booster, please go and get one. Then we all just might be able to look forward to being merry and bright.