Falling covid cases
With Covid cases falling in the UK without coinciding with a lockdown for the first time, the nation is looking ahead to the post-pandemic recovery. For the first time since February, case numbers have fallen for five days in a row, with previous declines occurring as a result of restrictions being tightened.
This has prompted the government to begin planning its route to economic recovery and opening back up to the world. With most restrictions having been lifted on 19th July, domestic life is returning to a semblance of normality with nightclubs and major social events opening up.
New travel rules
Given the apparent success of the move, the Cabinet has since normalised international travel. From 16th August, visitors from the EU and the USA no longer need to quarantine on entering the UK as long as they have had two vaccinations.
While it is encouraging that foreign travel is becoming more accessible, the travel industry will be handed a lifeline and the UK’s economy will surely receive a boost, the policy raises awkward questions over the government’s worldview.
Quite apart from the inconsistencies it throws up over age, with many young people not having even been offered the opportunity for two jabs by 16th August, the policy once again shows the legacy of imperial attitudes in government.
Colonial legacies impacting categorisations
The singling out of the USA and the EU shows that, regrettably but not surprisingly, the government’s perceptions of nations are defined by outdated and inaccurate stereotypes.
White Europeans and Americans will be trusted to enter the country without spreading the virus but citizens of equally Covid-safe territories will be forced to quarantine. The current system of grading countries ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ in terms of Covid security will be undermined as Britain prioritises its traditional friends.
At the time of writing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are on the green list but will be subject to quarantine rules, whereas a host of EU countries such as Germany and Italy find themselves on the amber list but need not isolate.
This is evidence of the continuous double standards held by many in the UK, as they subconsciously divide the world between the ‘colonialists’ and ‘colonised’ states, trusting only the former to vaccinate their citizens.
The government’s decision will surely be sold as a victory as Covid-safe travel returns, but Boris Johnson and co. should not escape difficult questions over why nations, which the government has itself classified as similarly safe, should be treated differently.
The most disappointing part about the affair is that this global pandemic could have been the perfect opportunity for the world to come together and work towards a global recovery. However, we are still governed by the same biases which have always prevented the establishment of a truly equal international system.