Lara Iyer

I have lost all faith in the British Government. The announcement of Tier 4 was the final piece of evidence I needed to understand the ineptitude of this government. 

I was already suspicious when Boris refused to listen to the SAGE advice a few months earlier and stubbornly refused to implement a lockdown (yet another catastrophic failure). While Boris appears on TV with his dishevelled, bleach blonde hair and he smirks at the cameras, people are going to funerals, saying goodbye to loved ones and dying. His actions simply do not reflect the messages he spews to the British public once a week. 

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The only thing that has kept a lot of us going in 2020 was the promise of a COVID-free 2021. We obviously now know this is a pipe dream. Last Saturday, Boris announced he would do the very thing he called ‘inhumane’ the previous Wednesday: cancel Christmas. Like many young people my age, when I heard this news my heart dropped to my stomach. And then came the rage. 

It was only three days earlier during Prime Minister’s Questions, that I heard the Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer openly and clearly question Boris’ widely lax approach to Christmas this year. He urged the Prime Minister to rethink his decision based on scientific advice and quite frankly, common sense. In a manner that can only be described as irritatingly conceitful, he brushed off any semblance of urgency that Sir Keir tried to convey. Boris’ failure to even address the concerns raised by his opposition says plenty about his priorities. 

So on Saturday when Boris dropped this bomb, I and many of my friends exploded. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the strong restrictions we are opposed to; we in fact support the harsher restrictions precisely because we want to be rid of the virus. We want life to go back to normal and it is everyone’s social responsibility to ensure that happens. But Boris Johnson’s demeanour and governance has prolonged the disruption and destruction of this virus, muddying any clear incentives and directives given to the British people. What irritated me most was the utter disregard for the consequences of this incredibly late and disrespectful decision. 

At first glance you may think ‘disrespectful’ is a term slightly too harsh. But, giving an announcement at 4pm and declaring an 8-hour window before Tier 4 restrictions commence feels like the 2020 equivalent of hearing the klaxon at the beginning of those Purge films. I find it extremely hard to believe that the government could not pre-empt the chaos and anarchy this would cause. Tweets from people trying to leave the city before 12am on Sunday the 20th showed packed up trains, no social distancing and shockingly-crowded train stations. It is safe to say that the new strain also reserved many seats on these train journeys to Tier 1, 2 and 3 areas of England. 

While many people’s first instinctual reaction is to blame those rushing out of London to try to be with their families this Christmas, we must make sure not to do this. Many trying to flee are students or young professionals that are simply trying to hold loved ones they haven’t seen all year. We must only hold those to blame accountable: the government. Had Boris listened to Keir Starmer on Wednesday and altered his Christmas rules accordingly people would have had more time to plan, more time to think and more time to travel. All three of these things would have meant one thing: the transmission rates between people and across the country would have been lower. 

video from Twitter of the rush of people in London leaving the capital

I feel the recklessness of this at a personal level. With the announcement on Saturday, my student home in London and my family home were put under Tier 4 restrictions. My clinically vulnerable brother (who hasn’t been able to see my family for eight months) lives in a care home, currently also in Tier 4. Families with caring responsibilities must plan ahead for weeks, if not months around Christmas to accommodate the stay of a family member with more needs. 

As of the 18th of December, like other families in similar situations, my family had already organised round the clock care (which becomes exponentially harder in a pandemic) in line with BoJo’s ridiculous five day-three family Christmas collaborative. With Boris’ announcement on the 19th, heart-breaking decisions had to be made in a matter of minutes because we were denied the basic decency of time to plan. My family is just one out of thousands that were forced into a horrific position by this government. 

The only question that I find myself asking and it’s a depressing one at that, is will the British Government ever admit their colossal mishandling of the virus? Day after day, week after week we have been watching as the government fail the British people. Basic common sense tells us that had the government listened to scientific experts and virologists and gone into a second lockdown sooner, we might have been able to salvage some semblance of a regular Christmas all over the country. The precedent seems to have been set: this will be yet another thing that Boris smirks and chuckles about to the cameras, as more families lower loved ones into the ground. 

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Last Update: December 22, 2020