Liz Wolfe rightly criticizes New York City’s remaining Covid-19 restrictions. A slice: Though the nonsensical midnight curfews for indoor and outdoor dining have finally been lifted citywide, many other pointless measures remain in place. Just as they’ve been forced to for the last 15 months, business owners must continue to navigate a maze of state- and city-imposed restrictions that fail to take into account the idea that maybe they’re the ones best suited to decide what works for their own staff and customers. TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid.) Historian Dominic Sandbrook: “Once assumed, state powers are not lightly surrendered. And once politicians have a taste for control, they find it very hard to give it up.” Victoria Lambert writes about
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Though the nonsensical midnight curfews for indoor and outdoor dining have finally been lifted citywide, many other pointless measures remain in place. Just as they’ve been forced to for the last 15 months, business owners must continue to navigate a maze of state- and city-imposed restrictions that fail to take into account the idea that maybe they’re the ones best suited to decide what works for their own staff and customers.
Historian Dominic Sandbrook: “Once assumed, state powers are not lightly surrendered. And once politicians have a taste for control, they find it very hard to give it up.”
Shriver’s generosity of spirit suddenly takes a sharp swerve. Ah yes, recent events. “I think lockdown was a catastrophic error,” she says. “It has caused terrible damage to specific people who have invested their whole lives in businesses – I can’t stand it.” Shriver mentions her own husband, American jazz drummer Jeffrey Williams, who has not been able to work.
Is she hopeful about Opening Up Day on June 21? Not really: “They won’t take away the power to do it again if they feel like it.”
This is not just concern over economics or catastrophic health effects (such as missed cancer diagnoses). “It is about what we have done to liberal democracy all over the world. We used to have civil rights. They were irrevocable. Now, they are revocable.
“All of our liberties have become conditional, and they will stay conditional for ever. What is the difference between living under the Chinese Communist Party and the Conservative Party?
“We never used to talk about lockdowns except in prisons – then it became a thing in days. I have been horrified to see how people have adapted to the new circumstances. It is a violation of the country I thought I lived in.”
Shriver is not a disease-denier. She has had both vaccinations (“with not much agonising”) and would have approved of guidance for the elderly or immunocompromised to stay at home. But it is another thing “to tell them to stay home and send police out on the streets to enforce it”.
It is appalling, she says, “that this Government has taken hold of every aspect of our lives”.
Well, Lord Sumption has certainly done that in recent months, becoming the intellectual champion of the anti-lockdowners – one of the few public figures prepared to stick his neck out and articulate a case against the Government’s measures in regular newspaper columns (several in The Telegraph) and on television. His stand has drawn criticism from his former colleagues at the Bar and from those who believe the threat from Covid justified the most illiberal measures seen in peacetime. But Sumption, who began his working life as an academic, believes the response has been massively disproportionate and betrays a distinct lack of historical perspective.
‘Covid-19 is towards the upper end [the most bearable] of the kind of epidemic that humanity has had to cope with from the beginning of time,’ he says. By contrast, he argues, the various lockdowns the Government has enforced over the past year have been brutal in prohibiting the most basic of human interactions. ‘It is historically extreme and unusual,’ he adds. ‘We have never, ever done such a thing.’
Sumption feels so strongly on the subject that he appears ready to take on all-comers in any forum. ‘These (lockdown) rules are an attack on our humanity. They are an assault on everything that makes humanity spiritually valuable,’ he says with feeling. ‘The interaction with other human beings is completely fundamental to our existence.’ Then, he adds, there was the ‘attack on the entire spiritual dimension of our existence – the closure of schools, the closure of museums, theatres, churches, sports grounds. These are things without which we cannot function as human beings. And I do not think that the saving of lives is worth such a price.’
A new pandemic is upon us — but it doesn’t involve viruses. It doesn’t involve the WHO, or perfidious cave bats. It’s a pandemic of opinion pieces written by liberals complaining of “reopening anxiety”.
During America’s first-ever national lockdown, thousands of unelected bureaucrats, as well as federal and state governments, assumed enormous powers not usually accorded to them.
They picked and chose which businesses could stay open without much rationale. They sent the infected into nursing homes occupied by the weak and vulnerable. Their rules for prosecuting those who violated social distancing, sheltering in place, mask wearing or violent protesting often hinged on political grounds. Their spending measures on “infrastructure” and “health care” were excuses to lard up redistributive entitlements.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) deserves applause for working to prevent the U.S. government from requiring, as a condition for flying domestically, so-called “vaccine passports.” (For the record, while I would do my best to avoid ever flying on an airline that chooses to require such “passports,” I believe – strongly – that no government has any business preventing privately owned airlines from using such requirements.)