Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I left New York on June 27th and arrived in the UK on the 28th. Because of Covid I hadn’t seen my children and grandchildren or hugged them for two years. I was eager to cross the Atlantic and resume some energetic smooshing.

This of course meant that I missed the Fourth of July celebrations, but as I discovered when I arrived, U.S. Independence Day celebrations were a huge mistake!

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It turns out that after intensive UK government negotiations with representatives of the virus, it has agreed not to affect British people after July 19th. Yes! you read that last sentence correctly. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that on the Nineteenth of July 2021, which the British press has declared “Freedom Day,” almost all Covid restrictions will be gone… “Health in our time!”

Ha Ha Ha! America…you may have secured your ambition of “No Taxation without Representation” from us, but WE have secured “No Transmission or Contamination from SARS-CoV-2 EVER again.”

Now I’ll bet you regret your hasty decision to sever ties to King George III!

Why this very week, like me and all the rest of her Majesty’s subjects you would be immune!

Alas, all this came too late for me as I flew off to see my children.

When I arrived in merry old England, I still had to, a: Produce documentation that I had a Covid test; b: Attest that I would be quarantining with my family for ten days; c: Show I had pre-booked a Covid test for day two and day eight after my arrival.

I did all that and booked at considerable cost, a third so-called, “Test to Release” Covid test that would free me from incarceration on day five! That would allow me to deliver several talks I had been booked to give and Broadcast on BBC national radio. What could go wrong?

After I arrived in London I flew first class to Manchester and was met at the airport by my daughters. The hugging famine was over.

On day four, with only twenty-four hours to go, my cell phone rang informing me that I was a “contact” of someone on the plane from London who had been diagnosed with Covid. So much for day five and freedom. I was now in quarantine for the full ten days. I racked my brains, how could this have happened, everyone from New York had documentation they were Covid-free or they could not have got into the country.

Then I remembered the flight to Manchester. I recalled watching the chief flight attendant (Greg) as he made the announcement about wearing a face mask at “all times” even if you were, double vaccinated, had had Covid or were dead. He then drew the curtains between the standard class passengers.

After that Greg and the other crew chatted happily together while Greg moved his mask below his nose and ignored the rules he had announced for the passengers. That’s where I had become a “contact” of someone with Covid!

It was during my incarceration that I heard Boris Johnson telling the nation the unbelievable news that in just a couple of weeks time, all the forms I had to fill out, tests I had to take and ten days in prison I had to endure, would all be unnecessary. If UK citizens like me were double vaccinated and came from an “Amber” coded country like the U.S., none of this stuff would be required any more. The British government was now able to inform us that the virus had generously agreed to leave Brits alone from now on and concentrate instead on all the other nations, like America! UK citizens would no longer have to wear face masks, practice social distancing or any of the rules that had made their lives so miserable since the pandemic arrived.

The reaction of the media was immediately ecstatic and then after a few days, austere “Party Poopers” like the British Medical Association declared that this U-turn was insane and some regulations would have to be maintained to protect the country’s health system.

Serious newspapers like London’s Times starting expressing doubts that Boris Johnson could have gotten the virus to agree to leave everyone alone. The new health minister Sajid Javid declared two days into the job, “We have to learn to live with Covid!”

Intelligent people noted that this seemed to imply that the virus had not agreed to leave us alone after all. In fact Mr. Javid actually said, “We cannot eliminate it, instead we will have to live with the new virus.” The headline of the Times’ much respected Dominic Lawson was, “Herd immunity, a policy that can’t be admitted,” and revealed that the government is trying to obscure that this is the ultimate goal of the immunization program.

So it seems that Covid has not given a free pass to the UK, the U.S., or anywhere else and that politicization of this epidemic and political games continue apace.

Perhaps you recall before the election, Kamala Harris publicly declaring that she would not accept a covid vaccination from the Trump administration. Then there was the disgraced governor of New York whose state has the worst record for Covid deaths in the U.S., writing a book about how well he had done. The previous administration’s initial response too, was less than glorious.

The first duty of government is to protect and safeguard the welfare of its citizens. That may indeed be through herd immunity, but as long as politics and obscuring the truth, comes before protecting the people, many will continue to die needlessly.

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Rabbi YY Rubinstein is a popular lecturer, a regular broadcaster on BBC National TV and Radio, and the author of 10 books (including, most recently, “Jewish Life and Jewish Laughter”).