Several countries, including England and Scotland, have returned to strict lockdowns after COVID-19 outbreaks have increased. From the sound of it, these lockdowns will be some of the most extreme these countries have ever experienced and mirror what many US states did in Spring 2020 when the virus first emerged. The US should not follow suit.
The 22 page order released by the UK government is unnerving.
"You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a 'reasonable excuse'. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a 'reasonable excuse', and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice)."
"You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400."
According to the order, a "reasonable excuse" includes work, volunteering, essential activities, education and childcare, exercise and a few other activities.
The order continues: "You can leave home to visit people in your ?support bubble? (if you are legally permitted to form one)."
"You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so.
"This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the next few weeks would be the "hardest yet" as cases surge and strict lockdowns are enacted.
The response has been lackluster at best. The BBC reports that some there believe the lockdowns are still not strict enough. The Financial Times reported, "The UK government is fearful that the latest lockdown in England is not being strictly observed and may have to be tightened to thwart the rapid spread of a new variant of Covid-19 and avoid the NHS becoming overwhelmed."
In Quebec, a strict curfew was implemented. Officials say "residents face police questions or fines" of up to $6,000 Canadian if they're out between 8 pm and 5 am for the next four weeks, save for people who are essential workers, walking dogs, or out for medical reasons. Thus far, Montreal police have passed out nearly 200 tickets for "illegal outings" or curfew violations.
Still, unfortunately for the UK or Canada, there's little evidence that strict lockdowns mitigate the spread of the virus, however counterintuitive that might sound. Several countries, like Sweden and New Zealand, have instituted targeted lockdowns and have seen more success.
In September, the Wall Street Journal analyzed "The Failed Experiment of COVID Lockdowns" in the US and argued "evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society." The author wrote:
"Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn't contain the disease's spread and reopening it didn't unleash a second wave of infections. Considering that lockdowns are economically costly and create well-documented long-term public-health consequences beyond Covid, imposing them appears to have been a large policy error. At the beginning, when little was known, officials acted in ways they thought prudent. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society."
The reflex to quite literally lock everyone inside was understandable when COVID-19 first surfaced in China. This seemed unprecedented. But we're nearly at the one year mark. We've learned quite a bit about how the virus spreads and how best to mitigate it.
Locking down a healthy society, hindering healthy people from stimulating their own economy freely, is anathema to mitigating COVID-19. Dozens of countries tried it and it failed. The US should never bend to arbitrary, draconian lockdowns ever again.
Contrary to popular belief many people are capable of putting aside their own rights for a greater cause like public health—especially if lockdowns would have worked—but that still cheapens the price we've paid for liberty. Freedom isn't a sword to be wielded aimlessly: It is an anchor for Americans; it holds the Constitution steadfast. The risks of freedom are that sometimes it's abused; sometimes people make stupid choices.
Either way, Americans must have the freedom to make the choice with what to do with their lives, whether good or bad, so long as they're within the law. Some may go shopping or to church, because they are well and their household is well. Some may remain locked down. Removing freedom of choice due to arbitrary, restrictive lockdowns is now proven to be as unscientific as it is unconstitutional.