Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

JENNY HJUL: Boris Johnson is right to scrap Covid rules, Nicola Sturgeon take note

Anti-mask, anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters stage a demonstration in Trafalgar Square.
Anti-mask, anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters stage a demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

As Boris Johnson announced the lifting of most Covid rules, the prospect of freedom became real for the first time in 16 months.

Although there have been gaps between lockdowns and many of the more draconian curbs have already been removed, there remain aspects of our old lives that had all but been forgotten.

But from July 19, in England at least, many of the pettier rules, such as enforced table service in pubs, will end and people will be able to go to the bar and order a drink.

Spontaneity, one of the first casualties of the coronavirus, will return and socialising, whether in or out of work, will be restored.

Hymn singing will be allowed in churches and dancing at weddings, ending two of the dafter diktats of Covid overreach.

At present, this momentous announcement, made on Monday evening, only affects England.

Scotland, where cases of Covid are currently the highest in Europe, has to wait longer for the all clear.

But there is really no reason, even with the surge in test positives, for a delay to the easing of measures here too.

Covid rules gave vaccines time to work

Johnson cautioned that the relaxing of Covid rules will probably lead to an increase in cases but hospitalisations and deaths will be greatly limited by the vaccination programme.

One of the leading scientists behind that triumph, Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, put the pandemic’s trajectory in perspective ahead of Johnson’s briefing on Monday.

“We will be living with this virus for the rest of our lives,” Pollard wrote in a newspaper column.

“Mild cases in the community are OK as long as they stay there. The job of the vaccines is to keep people out of hospital, and the link between infection and hospitalisation is now very weak.”

Nicola Sturgeon seemed finally to have grasped that truth when last week she resisted pressure to delay Scotland’s freedom day, due on August 9.

She must not now be spooked by the hysterics on the opposition benches and, most stridently, from her own side.

How unhinged did the SNP’s health spokesman, Philippa Whitford, sound when she accused the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, of letting Covid rip and treating unvaccinated children as ‘collateral damage’?

As a doctor herself she should be more up to speed, both on the difference vaccines have made to community transmission, and to the low impact of the disease on the young.

Fortunately, Javid has a better handle on collateral damage than his predecessor, Matt Hancock.

He said he was ‘shocked’ when he arrived in his new role to discover NHS waiting lists of seven million people who had not sought treatment in the past year.

Scotland must keep pace with change

As England is told it is time to live with Covid, that mask wearing will become voluntary and the rule scrapped, Scotland must not lag behind.

In under a fortnight, controls on capacity at theatres and in sports venues will be swept away, and the “rule of six” abandoned, in England.

In some arenas, much of the paraphernalia of the pandemic is already history. From yesterday, the show courts at Wimbledon were opened to full crowds, and the scenes looked no different from those in 2019, before Covid – and Covid rules – struck.

In fact, anyone who has been in London recently will have had a foretaste of normality, as the streets and transport networks have filled up once more in a happy mass of absent-minded mingling.

There are still those who cling to Covid, who insist they will wear their masks like martyrdom, and who perpetuate the pandemic’s perils.

Some are perhaps genuinely wobbly after nearly a year and a half of government scare mongering, both sides of the border.

Ask why critics want to keep controls

But some have a vested interest in prolonging the agonies of coronavirus even after the threat, for the vast majority, has passed.

Among them are the public health “experts” who have spent the past year and a bit shouting down dissenting voices, even if of superior academic calibre, to safeguard their temporary (let’s pray) pandemic pulpits.

Also, the union bosses seem to be looking for excuses to keep their members off work, particularly if they are teachers who are at almost zero risk of getting ill by going to school.

And there are those politicians, on the right and left, who deployed panic to destabilise the government and who now find themselves on the wrong side of the debate as we emerge from the pandemic.

Some, like Whitford, are still at it but there is little mileage left for the doom merchants, with high profile “doves” in the medical establishment, Professors Chris Witty and Neil Ferguson included, agreeing the Prime Minister’s move is justified.

Sturgeon should take note. The public appetite for pandemic point scoring has diminished along with the dangers of the disease and we all now need to move on.