Everyone makes mistakes. No-one has handled this pandemic perfectly. The question is whether you admit to your mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and make sure not to repeat them the second (and third) time round. So it is welcome to hear from the Prime Minister a frank admission: “I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood. That was a mistake I don’t want to make again”.
Unfortunately (at least for those of us in the UK) those are the words of the Czech PM, Andrej Babis. And yet, what he says applies as much here as there.
Remember all the hype about re-opening pubs on Saturday, July 4? It was dubbed ”Independence Day”, “Super Saturday”. That was no coincidence.
The timing and the messages were deliberately managed by No.10 and designed to send a strong signal that things were back to normal, such that people should resume their traditional patterns of consumption. And just in case the signal might be too subtle for some, Boris Johnson exhorted us that it was our “patriotic duty” to go to the pub.
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In the case of workplaces, things were even less subtle. Not only were people told they should go back, Johnson warned that if they didn’t they might lose their jobs.
So many had little choice but to travel (often on crowded public transport) and mingle with their workmates. Sure, the workplace was meant to be safe and ministers repeatedly asserted that it was safe. Yet, the government did nothing to ensure that it was safe but rather handed the job over to employers with little guidance, minimal oversight and no support (hardly surprising since the number of Health and Safety Inspectors has been slashed by half in the last five years).
The inevitable result? Employers...