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Are we heading for another lockdown?

Diane Hall


Coronavirus Covid-19 cell

The media wheel is turning faster at the moment, as it warns about the dangers of the Omicron variant of the Covid virus. Reportedly originating in Botswana, South Africa, a handful of cases with the Omicron mutation have already been found in the UK.

The protein spikes this variant carries has caused some scientists to fear that the vaccines in circulation within this country may not be able to stop it spreading—it’s said to be more highly transmissible than previous strains.

Surely the true danger of any variant is how many of us will end up in hospital after contracting it. The vaccines may not be able to give us full immunity against Omicron, but as long as they prevent people from becoming sick enough that a spell in hospital is necessary, isn’t that enough?

The conspiracy theorists have been out in force across social media as a result of the media coverage. They claim that the government is ramping up the concern around this variant to keep us in a perpetual state of fear. They also believe it will soon be used as the excuse to keep us locked down around Christmastime, just like we were last year. Incidentally, ‘omicron’ is an anagram of ‘moronic’, though I haven’t yet worked out which side of the argument deserves the label…

Already, the government have swung into action, despite the number of Omicron cases not yet topping double figures. They have revoked the wearing of masks in all public places (apart from hospitality venues) as the individual’s choice and demanded that this is mandatory from tomorrow, to stop the spread of this variant. Though this is the season for Christmas parties and a time to eat and drink well, masks aren’t required inside pubs, restaurants and similar venues. Maybe they daren’t close down an industry that is already so fragile and which is still trying to get back on its feet.

2 black face masks on white background

2 black face masks on white background

What does this all mean for small businesses? Will the bleak winter after the merriment of Christmas be even more bleak as non-essential companies will once again be forced to shut their doors until the weather gets warmer? After all, Austria and Germany are currently in lockdown and have reintroduced strict social distancing due to the number of Covid cases in their countries.

The success of our vaccination programme means that a greater proportion of our population (75%) have been jabbed than in Germany, where 70% have opted for the vaccine. It’s not a huge difference, however, so this may not be enough to stop the powers-that-be from demanding the UK takes the same action. Our government is pushing for us all to have the booster jabs that have been created, in the hope that our immunity will be sufficiently strengthened to fight off Omicron and any other variant that may come our way.

According to the New Statesman, ‘Concern around the virus is at its lowest level since the crisis began’. This must worry some business owners, such as retailers, who will be left to police the mandatory mask law and will be the ones open to abuse by the apathetic.

It must be a terrifying time for businesses, particularly those already trying to cope with supplier/stock shortages, a lack of staff, debt from previous lockdowns still around their necks and the rising cost of utilities. Another lockdown would likely finish a lot of them off—as if we haven’t already seen enough companies falling victim to the pandemic.

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