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18 Jun, 2021 13:16

The increasingly arbitrary nature of Covid-19 restrictions shows that politics has trumped science

The increasingly arbitrary nature of Covid-19 restrictions shows that politics has trumped science

From a world leader failing to quarantine adequately, to restrictions in France being applied unequally on the same night, to people getting the Covid-19 shot to go on a hassle-free vacation… where’s the science in any of this?

How many people are choosing to take a Covid-19 vaccine for the reason for which it was brought into existence – that is, to lessen the chance that one has to deal with a more serious form of illness if one catches the virus? 

Because that particular message doesn’t seem to be resonating as much right now as the one that governments across the Western world, from the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada to the European Union (EU), are pushing in an attempt to get people to sign up for the jab. That is, if you don’t want to miss out on a hassle-free summer vacation this year, then you have little choice.

Authorities in the UK and the EU are proposing quarantine-free summer leisure travel – but not necessarily Covid-19 test-free trips – for those who have both doses of one of their approved vaccines.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said of summer travel, “Easing of restrictions will be focused on Canadians who are fully vaccinated.”

This may explain why when I’ve asked people across the spectrum of society, from doctors to Uber drivers, whether they’re opting for the jab, the response has almost always been, “We’re going to need it for travel.” Some have even admitted to having caught Covid-19 and not being worried about the illness itself, but just wanting to not be bothered having to deal with any government-imposed hassle.

Wanting to spend a week or two sunning oneself on a beach seems like a poor basis on which to make a personal health decision. When PCR testing is still required for travel from non-zero Covid-19 jurisdictions despite vaccination – suggesting concern about vaccinated people carrying and transmitting the virus – why are governments using vacations to push people off the fence or towards a potentially different choice than they otherwise might have made?

Isn’t all of this Covid-19 business supposed to be ‘science based’? What’s the scientific basis for the notion that vaccination gives you the possibility to hang out this summer on a foreign beach, instead of having to stay with the locals at home?

Science is similarly absent from other anti-coronavirus restrictions. What health-related argument can explain the fact that on the evening of Friday, June 11, as some of us sat watching a marathon four-hour, 11-minute French Open tennis match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic from the comfort of our couches, those who could afford the price of attendance in the stands were given permission directly from the highest levels of the French government to continue watching the game as it extended beyond the 11pm nightly Covid-19 curfew?

Meanwhile, an outdoor celebratory gathering of young people in the streets nearby on the same night was tear-gassed by French police as soon as curfew struck.

However, there were few masks worn in the street outside, contrary to the Covid-19 rules, one might say. Except that French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the end of outdoor mask-wearing just five days later. Presumably, it wasn’t much of a health concern at the outdoor party five days earlier, either.

The randomness of double standards and nonsensical politicized restrictions was also highlighted this week when Trudeau returned to Ottawa with his team from the G7 Summit. A scientific expert advisory panel advising the Ministry of Health informed Trudeau’s government weeks ago that a mandatory, pre-booked, three-day hotel quarantine for Canadians returning home should be scrapped in all cases.

Rather than following the advice of his own scientific experts, Trudeau has refused to lift the measure. But when his team entered hotel quarantine the evening he returned to Canada at 7pm, they exited at 8am the following day. Yet the average Canadian has to pre-book the full three days at a cost of CA$2,000, with no guarantee how long it will take for authorities to process the negative test that will allow them to go home.

Again, by what scientific basis do political elites get a highly optimized version of Covid-related hassles? I’m not saying that any of these people should have to suffer through the same things as the rest of us, but rather that these double standards expose coronavirus restrictions for the farce that they are. If they can be modified on a whim, then it’s time to drop the curtain on this sanitary theater.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.