A fine day for Northern Ireland, as normal life returns and Covid rules are scrapped

News Letter editorial on Tuesday February 15 2022:

By Editorial
Monday, 14th February 2022, 11:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 12:01 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

What a day it is in Northern Ireland!

All coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, making it the first place in Britain or Ireland to replace rules with guidance.

The health minister Robin Swann has pointed out that the pandemic is still with us.

Vulnerable groups of the population are still vulnerable, and so it is important that guidance is not ignored.

But the level of harm now caused by Covid is now nowhere near enough to justify the great harm caused by lockdown: the harm to education, to mental health, to the economy, to specific business sectors, to normal life and so on.

The big breakthrough has been the mild impact of Omicron. Some of the alarmist medical voices in December, who called for severe restrictions, got it badly wrong.

However, almost all of us have got some aspect of the pandemic wrong. It has confounded experts as well as lay people.

At times it seemed a massive risk to life, at others it seemed to be largely over, then it flared back.

We might yet see a dangerous strain of coronavirus emerge, but we can no longer act on the precautionary principle, in case of what seem to be small possible risks.

With time it will be possible to look back on the response to Covid and assess the ways in which the UK over or under reacted.

One feature of the last two years has been a clear success — the rollout of the vaccines, which British scientists played a key part in developing. Latterly, a massively disproportionate number of people in hospital with severe coronavirus symptoms were unjabbed.

Now it is time for a formal return to normal life and normal commerce. With luck, the economy will benefit from a big boost of activity, but not a bubble.

Meanwhile, everyone has learned valuable lessons for the future about how viruses can spread and how to reduce the chance of infection.

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