Comment: People may tell Covid-19 to ‘sod off’

A positive antibody test made Steve Endacott question if it will change attitudes to travel

Oddly, receiving a positive Covid-19 antibody test this week, indicating I’d already had the virus that has caused a global pandemic, gave me a warm glow.

I paid £69 for a home test, that required a pin prick of blood and the posting of a sample to a London lab for a test, the results of which supposedly then come back within three days by email. In my case, it took three weeks.

I took the test because, before lockdown, in late February I’d flown to Dublin for a long birthday weekend and later came down with what I thought was a heavy case of flu. It would have been very early in the Covid-19 outbreak, and no other members of my household suffered any systems. I wanted to know if I’d had it, but did not really expect the positive result I got.

So my question became, ‘does a positive result change anything?’

The answer, clearly, is no. We have no idea yet what level of immunity people have and for how long after getting Covid-19. But that said, it certainly makes you feel better, as you lived through the disease once with a short-lived illness, which logically means I could do it the same again if necessary.

However, it has made me start wondering how attitudes to Covid-19 compliance measures are likely to change as life becomes more normalised as we come out of lockdown.

Young people have been impacted severely by Covid-19 with pubs, clubs, gyms and university’s all shut down. Yet this group suffers the least from catching the disease and could easily start rebelling against compulsory face masks and limits on gathering sizes. Will they continue to obey one-meter social distancing rules and no mingling with other tables in pubs after a few pints?

As you get older people tend to obey rules more, but I also wonder about people’s likely compliance with a track and trace 14-day self-isolation request. If you’re on furlough it could be argued this is no great hardship and most people will comply, but what happens if you’ve just returned to work or have a holiday booked?

Although some insurance policies now cover pre-trip cancellation if you become ill with Covid-19, they do not cover track and trace restrictions, and the holiday company will not refund, as they see it as a ‘disinclination’ to travel since the holiday is still proceeding from a legal contract point of view. In these circumstances, will people who are not feeling ill comply and not travel? Can the rest of the household still travel?

The same situation applies to town or city lock downs, like in Leicester. Your passport does not contain your current address, so what’s to stop people heading off to the airport and flying out. Is it the responsibility of travel agents or airlines to check a customer’s home address is not locked down?

Basically, in society we rely on social conscience and peer group pressure to enforce most laws. And although I see this working for enforcing the wearing of facemasks at airports and on flights, when thousands of pounds and a family holiday is on the line people may start bending the rules.

How many people returning to the UK in the last couple of weeks have actually quarantined themselves for 14 days. I’m sure we all know a few who have not.

I’m not immune, and I’m not telling everybody to sod off with their Covid-19 restrictions. But I fear that, soon, many people will be.

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