Scotland's National Catholic magazine

We need a Covid amnesty

Eric Hanna argues we need to forgive and forget the ‘crimes’ of the pandemic.

There’s a war on. Inflation is eye-wateringly high. Yet the media remains consumed by cake and beer and when and where they were consumed by our political masters.

The PM and his Chancellor have been fined for breaking ‘their’ Covid rules. The opposition leader and ex-head of the Crown Prosecution Service – Sir Keir Starmer has also had questions to answer over ‘Beergate’.

Was it a ‘work-meal’ or a party? Did they break the rules? Should they now be fined? Should Sir Keir resign? And now we have the damning Sue Gray report.

I am going to stick my neck out and say all of this simply doesn’t matter that much. Most of us would like to forget the pan- demic so why don’t we take that all the way and declare a Covid amnesty for everyone who broke the coronavirus restrictions.

Yes, for the politicians but really for everyone else.

Amnesty for the 18-year-old lad whose mental health was suffering so much due to lockdown he met-up with his friend and in their car had a Nandos. Unlucky for them the police were driving by at the time and a £500 fine was issued.

There were also the two unlucky women who after separately buying a coffee met up outside for their mandated exercise for the day and were bravely apprehended by the long arm of the law.

Thousands of people have been handed out fines or questioned by the police during lockdown. It was heavy-handed at the time but now it’s ridiculous.

If we want to do reports and pedantic en- quires there are lots of bigger questions we could ask.

Where did they get the idea that to limit the spread of the virus we should only go out once a day?

Remember that meant outdoor exercise where transmission of virus particles is extremely low.

But what if you were a dog owner? You can’t just go out once a day. Did a doggy walk include your once-a-day mandated walk or was it on top of it?

It was no surprise during lockdown dog ownership levels rocketed! How about the rules that banned us from visiting our elderly family members in care homes?

These men and women, many of whom can still make decisions for themselves, were incarcerated without appeal throughout lockdowns with the promise of being able to wave to their families through locked windows.

And we know how that the government funnelled patients with Covid back into care homes with disastrous results.

How about when some of our institutions went Orwellian – like Manchester University locking in students to their dorms who then struggled at times to have food to eat due to the mismanagement and callousness of authorities.

This was all justified under the banner of ‘The Science’. We live in a materialist age but it was during this period that near religious belief in science was shown.

Every decision and rule dished out by our government was underlined by science, which came across as a monolithic and neutral entity that could not be questioned.

Our elected representatives knew that if they tried to enforce some of the most draconian rules the UK has ever seen without a shield they would be mowed down.

Instead, knowing how we all trust science and scientists they wheeled out Witty, Valance and Leitch and repeated the mantra after their sermons – the science is clear, the science states.

But the science wasn’t clear. We know now that many of the instructions handed down from high were half-baked at best. Remember when masks were dangerous?

You don’t have to fear being seen as an anti-masker or vaxxer to healthily question the suppositions behind some of these policies.

We should also just note that all scientists are human, and although no doubt doing the best work they can are not immune to bias or their own particular personality traits when doing research.

We need an honest inquiry into all of this, focusing a national discussion on policies not baking or carry-outs. We also should be honest with ourselves.

Before we try to extract the proverbial out of our politicians’ eyes, is there any- thing in ours? How many households did we have come over for dinner? I take it everyone was in the garden and held their breath going to the toilet? When we were out did we claim the correct number of households were with us or fudge it? Are we totally clean?

Thinking about it from a Catholic point of view, forgiveness does not mean someone’s sin is acceptable, but it is a moment of grace that frees all of us from a vengeful spirit that does terrible damage.

Of course Boris and Sir Keir should be following the rules – especially a PM who signed those rules off – but will it really make any of the last two years better?

Let’s concentrate on what really matters and forgive all the rule breakers – whomever they are.

Eric Hanna lives and works in Inverness with his family. He is the editor of St Moulag’s Coracle, a news letter of Catholic writing.

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