For months, the prime minister has repeated the mantra that further easing of Covid-19 restrictions would be about “data and not dates”. Yet, as coronavirus cases in the UK continue to surge, and scientists warn that fully reopening society risks building “variant factories” in our own back yard, the government appears poised to put one date – 19 July – ahead of everything else. Once again, politics has trumped science.
Since Sajid Javid’s appointment as health secretary on 26 June, the UK has confirmed a further 188,538 coronavirus cases, with approximately 25,000 extra people testing positive each day. On Sunday, Javid said that the best way to protect the nation’s health was by lifting the main Covid-19 restrictions, even though this would result in a further significant increase in cases. “We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of Covid and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu,” he said.