SIR – It’s time to trust the common sense of the public and end this morale-sapping lockdown.
The Government should certainly stop deferring to “the science”, which simply means a highly risk-averse approach. In the past week we have also had the unedifying spectacle of politicians and scientists hiding behind each other. The former claim to be “following the science”, while the latter say these are “matters for politicians”.
Instead, the Government should find its political mojo, look at the wealth of international data on Covid-19 and take a more pragmatic view. This is vital if our country and its economy are to get moving again.
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
SIR – You report the view of Professor Michael Levitt, a Nobel Prize winner, that the lockdown has been “a waste of time”.
It appears that his prediction of deaths in Britain has been significantly more accurate than that of Professor Neil Ferguson.
It cannot just sit there as an unresolved debate. Did the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies consider views such as his?
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – Regarding the question of whether lockdowns work, two months ago I was a sprightly 85-year-old, getting out and about and doing all my own food shopping.
I now rely upon the kindness of others. My neighbours are brilliant, bringing me cooked meals from time to time. I have my own garden, so compared to many I am in a comfortable position. However, I have become an old man. I need to see an optician, a dentist and a chropodist.
I keep busy, writing articles for local newsletters and reading my Telegraph from cover to cover. But all these activities are sedentary, and I now have to lever myself out of my chair if I have been sitting for any length of time. I hope that, when the lockdown is lifted, I will be able to get back to where I was at the end of February.
SIR – Sensible distancing is a possibility, but keeping to a two-metre distance is not – especially in restaurants, hotels, sports stadiums, theatres and cinemas.
We need to drop all the government diktats and return to common sense. Only then will we get back to some form of “normal”.
SIR – The phrase, “all dressed up with nowhere to go”, springs to mind with the reopening of the retail market, in particular clothing.
Who wants a new outfit if there isn’t anywhere to wear it, apart from outside a restaurant while waiting for a takeaway?
SIR – Frederick Forsyth’s proposals (Letters, May 24) for the public sector could be put to good use in the NHS.
While the medics run a meritocracy, NHS management operates a bureaucracy, which is like mixing oil and water. Administrators must be held accountable and remunerated according to their results.
Doctors and nurses save lives. Their employers should try to save money – or at least provide better value.
SIR – Mr Forsyth suggests halving the departmental budget for public-sector salaries. I recommend the opposite.
Having worked in the IT department of a non-metropolitan police force, I can confirm that public-sector salaries are lower than those in the private sector. However, the higher pay on offer in the private sector is a reward for being part of a fast-paced, ruthless environment.
Many in the public sector at ground level are content with a lower salary because of the contribution they make; they are not “useless” or looking for a blame-free career. The problem, as I recall, is that there are too many managers, who fail to make quick decisions. The solution, then, is to increase salaries for those who do the ground work, but remove the layers of management that hold things up.
SIR – There is one point I would like to add to your article (Travel, May 24) on cruises: the problem of insurance.
I have had to cancel a cruise because I could not get insurance to cover Covid-19. It would be extremely high-risk if we became infected and had to receive care in, say, the US without medical cover. The cruise line had no answer to this, even if we got infected on the cruise – so beware.
SIR – Michael Hogan appears to suggest that cliffhanger endings began with Dallas.
What about the great Saturday morning serials of my childhood, such as Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars or Gene Autry and the Thunder Riders – and the exhortation to “See the next exciting episode at this theatre next week”?
SIR – Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, claims he would have sacked Dominic Cummings immediately for breaching the lockdown rules.
It seems, however, that he had no such concerns when he appointed Stephen Kinnock as a shadow cabinet minister after he had been warned by police for breaking the rules.
SIR – As a recent transplant to this gorgeous isle, I have no political affiliation. I would probably have voted Conservative at the last election.
Britain has shown great solidarity in this crisis. The Prime Minister’s defence of Dominic Cummings was therefore mistaken: Mr Cummings has given the impression that he doesn’t believe the rules really apply to him.
SIR – A number of Church of England bishops were quick to condemn the actions of Mr Cummings – which, whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter, were clearly motivated by nothing more than love for his son.
The Church’s job during this pandemic has been to provide spiritual comfort and guidance. What it has actually done, apart from political posturing, is close its doors.
Hong Kong and China
SIR – I refer to your report (May 24), “Masked activists gather as China tightens grip on Hong Kong”.
Every country has a right, and indeed a duty, to protect its security and sovereignty. The provisions of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights stipulate that these cannot undermine national security. To suggest that China has no right to legislate to protect national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) smacks of double standards. Much of the criticism from politicians and pundits is alarmist speculation, and ignores the constitutional reality that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
The proposed law will target acts of secession, subversion and terrorism, as well as activities interfering with HKSAR’s internal affairs by foreign or external forces. Law-abiding Hong Kong residents, including overseas investors, have nothing to fear.
In recent days, violent protesters have returned to the streets of Hong Kong. Sadly, those who claim to be acting in the Hong Kong people’s best interests turn a blind eye to the explosives, firearms, weapons, attacks on bystanders, vandalism, online trolling and disinformation campaigns used by radical protesters.
The decision by the National People’s Congress to enact the national security law will improve the legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard security. The draft decision and the explanatory statement of the NPC stated that, when making the decision, the NPC would comply with the laws and the “one country, two systems” principle of Hong Kong.
The rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents under the law and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, will not be affected. Hong Kong will remain a free, cosmopolitan and open city. Our autonomy, and the cardinal principle of Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong as enshrined in the Basic Law, will remain intact – and the long-term stability and prosperity of this vibrant metropolis will be assured.
Director-General, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
Getting a handle on the spread of germs
SIR – Recent research suggests that copper and its alloys exhibit extensive antimicrobial properties, with the ability to kill viruses similar to Covid-19 in minutes.
Other surfaces, including stainless steel, appear to allow such viruses to persist for days. Perhaps, then, it is time to start retrofitting doors in public spaces with brass and copper handles, following the example of the world-leading Francis Crick Institute in London, which has already done so.
The use of copper in preventing disease was known to the ancients – and for centuries the Ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyph of eternal life, was used by alchemists as the symbol for copper.
Why schools are well prepared for reopening
SIR – Two aspects of the return to school seem to have received very little coverage.
The first is that most schools probably already have an excellent track-and-trace system in place. Any school household experiencing symptoms of coronavirus would only have to inform the school secretary and the information would be disseminated very quickly: a simple phone call, email or text would be sufficient.
Furthermore, schools were operating more or less normally for two weeks in March when conronavirus was already on the rampage. Data from this period would provide an excellent indication of the level of risk.
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire
SIR – Thousands of parents and children of all ages crowded on to Bournemouth beach last Sunday, in a clear breach of the social distancing rules.
I wonder how many Year 1 and Year 6 schoolchildren among those crowds will be prevented from attending school tomorrow by their parents on the grounds that they could catch Covid-19.