Oddbod & The City: The Red List Blues

So, last Saturday was a bit of a shocker, I am not going to lie to you. It took me a good 72 hours and two bottles of wine to fully absorb it all from under my duvet. Yes, that’s right, I took to my bed like a distressed Victorian heroine.

Waiting

It felt like Boris and his Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, woke up on a chilly Saturday morning and chose violence. The disappointment was so acute because I don’t know about you, I had been praying against this eventuality since the inception of the traffic light travel system. It was a very bitter pill to swallow, and the ripple effect has been felt far and wide.

Not that there was ever going to be a good time to be added to the red list, but Boris does seem to enjoy ruining Christmas. Last year, he locked up his fellow countrymen with barely any notice and after some had not seen family since the instigation of lockdown.

#ChristmasPartygate is ongoing as I write so we will see just how serious the power that be are about these arbitrary laws they throw around. Detty December has been cancelled people. With a rude suddenness and brutal finality that has me reeling. I know there were businesses and the entire lifestyle industry looking forward to the influx of the diaspora and their FX. My father was looking at having all his children and grandchildren gathered around his dining table for Christmas dinner for the first time in fifteen years. I am heartbroken and I know I am not alone. This is what the 72-hour time-out was all about. I had to take the time to grieve and then I really had to find peace with being comfortable with being uncomfortable and uncertain. It’s still a work in progress but what other option do I have? With lockdown, a stint in quarantine, new, (possibly) scarier COVID variants, and living with the constant fear for the health and safety of loved ones, this travel ban really does seem like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Then social media and news outlets started blowing up with articles condemning the British government for “travel apartheid” because that Red List was looking mighty Black. (I read that somewhere so I really can’t take credit, but it does roll nicely off the tongue don’t you think?) Omicron was first sequenced south of the equator but that does not mean it is where it originated. It’s all over Europe already and I am watching with side eye to see if after the Brexit debacle, the UK would have the liver to ban non-resident Europeans from crossing its borders.

The situation is set to be reviewed on December 20th, and I am not hopeful, to be honest. With all the rumours flying around and with the scientists genuinely not knowing which way is up with this virus, I know they will follow the urge to err on the side of caution and stay locked up.

In an ideal world, we would all be in this together and we would all be united against this common enemy.

Countries would freely share research with no fear of penalisation and the richer countries would understand that vaccine equity is the only way forward (and not the vaccine equity that sends expiring stock to developing economies with literal days to spare). Stockpiling that leads to wastage will eventually come back to bite. With all the uncertainty what is not in doubt is that getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible is the only defence we really have against this pandemic.

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