The New York Times refuses to let go of masks, in any sense, and won’t forgive Conservative United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson for reopening public life this summer after highly restrictive Covid lockdowns. Now the paper is using the still-unproven menace of the new Omicron variant to shame him into locking down just like other European countries are doing (never mind countries like Germany were handling the virus so much worse than the U.K.).
Tuesday’s online story by Mark Landler and Megan Specia was introduced as a lecture: “Amid Variant Fears, U.K. Discovers Limits to Its Virus Strategy — Britain’s approach to coronavirus-related restrictions has been looser than other European countries, but the Omicron variant has spurred swift action on mitigation measures.”
The reporters seem pleased the U.K. has (perhaps overreacting) closed its borders to Africa, which frankly doesn’t sound very liberal, as well as again requiring masks. And there was no mention that Wales and Northern Ireland, which have had mask mandates throughout, have a higher case count than England:
Britain was a coronavirus rebel at almost all stages of the pandemic. In an unorthodox bid to restore normality to life, Britain locked down earlier than European neighbours in March 2020. It also rolled out vaccines quicker than any other major country this year.
However, Britain is now following the lead of its neighbours in trying to defend itself against Omicron.….
Britain’s approach is still significantly looser than countries like Austria, which are back in national lockdowns. People can gather in pubs without masks, for example, and officials keep promising weary Britons a normal Christmas….
Omicron is not yet tested in real life. Times is letting the lockdown brigade do a smug round of “I told you so”:
Public-health experts welcomed the moves as a recognition that there are limits to Britain’s distinctive strategy, which combines a robust vaccination program with an almost total lack of restrictions since July. The experts said that it proved the point of not going it alone with an ever-changing variant.
Reporters urged the United Kingdom not to relax its restrictions.
It has not ordered people to work at home, or required them to have vaccine passports for use in England. France has a requirement for restaurant owners to have vaccine passports. Spain and Italy both require the use of masks at schools. The Department of Education in England advised only students aged 12 or older to use masks within communal spaces, starting Monday.
And they sound disappointed the UK won’t be canceling Christmas. “Johnson did not advise people to cancel Nativity plays and Christmas celebrations. Johnson was speaking out with Jenny Harries (one of his most trusted health advisors), who suggested earlier that people cut back on holiday socializing to reduce the risk of transmission.They wrote:
The masks are back!
On London’s busy streets, already twinkling with Christmas lights, some said the new rules seemed to be making a difference, After months of mask-wearing had been rather desolatory.
A November 25 story, “A Claim of Herd Immunity Reignites Debate Over U.K. Covid Policy,” by Stephen Castle and Mark Landler had the same underlying theme: Johnson overreached by returning to normality so soon:
Behind the debate over herd immunity lies a more basic question about whether the government was right to throw open England’s economy and society last summer, even when the virus was still circulating widely in the population.
Johnson was a loyal friend for a very long time TimesCovid is the target. Late October Times blamed “Freedom Day” for a Covid surge – just as cases began to fall again.