We find ourselves again in the grip of another lockdown, the 6th in Victoria, on the heels of 6 locally acquired cases. What this portends in the short term, if unanswered, purportedly justifies the deprivations of liberty entailed by home detention, business closure, remote schooling, and the like. But does it?
The initial claim that was used both here and overseas in order to justify lockdowns was that a short but sharp lockdown for 2-4 weeks was needed to stop the spread and prevent the hospital system from being overwhelmed by hospitalizations leading to operational collapse. This never eventuated even in countries that did not engage in lockdowns as a strategy. That is why the example of Sweden regarding COVID is anathema to proponents of lockdowns.
Sweden’s experience, as one of the few developed countries to eschew lockdowns, in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since Feb 2020 is well within the range of experience of those that did. And the worst of it can be blamed on the poor management earlier on of COVID in aged care, not on any failure to lockdown its people.
Sweden is the clearest lesson that lockdowns were never a necessary component in fending off national disaster. Public order and safety could be preserved within reason without the onerous and crippling deprivations of liberty imposed on the public. State and society could collaborate in their efforts to stave off ‘the spread’, protect vulnerable groups, and engage voluntarily in social distancing and other measures (remote work, effective hygiene, and the like) in ways that continued to respect the rights of its citizens in their pursuit of everyday goods.
Whereas, where we now find ourselves is in a never ending spiral of pointless goals (0 cases) and edicts. Having failed to achieve the impossible goal during a pandemic of 0 cases, the government, and having grown accustomed to emergency measures where no emergency exists beyond the recollection of its own failures, the government is effortlessly and gradually expanding from recurring temporary lockdowns to compulsorily requiring vaccinations as a prerequisite for returning to normal life; or should we say the ‘new normal’ life. To put it another way, the lockdowns will continue until morale improves.