Personal liberty is another, unsung victim of the pandemic

Ideas

Personal liberty is another, unsung victim of the pandemic

Governments must restore these freedoms when the virus is eventually beaten

Camilla Cavendish

Riots over a Covid-19 curfew in the Netherlands. Violent protests against restrictions in Israel. The vaccine cavalry has arrived in the nick of time. The pandemic has strained democracy to its limits, and we need our freedoms fully restored when all of this is over.

The past 10 months have been truly dystopian, with parts of world under virtual house arrest. In some US states, armed protests and death threats against politicians seeking to save lives have been alarming. But, in the UK, I cannot help feeling a sense of unease at how readily much of society has accepted rolling restrictions, and how so many people have shouted down attempts to question the strategy.

In a crisis of this sort where so much is unknown, you may well need strong government action. But you also need open debate. I have supported drastic action to preserve the UK’s health service as being the lesser evil. But I think we will look back on this period as an inspiring time when citizens made sacrifices for each other, and one which also set some worrying precedents...

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