Matt Hancock told the Today Programme this morning that a “third wave appears to be taking hold” in Europe, with a rising number of cases, hospitalisations, and new lockdown measures reimposed in countries like France and Germany. The Health Secretary said that rising cases on the continent has led to rising cases at home before, acknowledging that “This time we have as a defence our very extensive vaccine programme”, insisting caution is still necessary to “protect” that success. Hancock explained that:
“In fact this is all about how we stick to our roadmap out. Because we have got our vaccination programme, we’ve got hope on the horizon, we can see our way out. The roadmap guides us on that route out, following the data all the way through checking that things are going well.
But there are two concerns. One is the sheer number of cases if international travel brings home more cases, but the other is the risk of a new variant that the vaccine can’t deal with as effectively. Both of those are unknowns… therefore it’s reasonable for us to take a precautionary careful approach, which is what we are doing at the borders.”
The precaution is a new £5,000 fine preventing people from going abroad. Note that you will not be stopped from leaving if you can afford to pay the fine. If people are tested before returning, why can’t they travel abroad? The state refusing to allow people to escape its clutches is a step too far, placing tough restrictions on people returning is one thing, refusing to allow them to leave is of a diferent order.