Guernsey Press

‘We just can’t go on like this any more’

Lord Digby Jones believes its time to take the next step towards normality

Lord Digby Jones byline

‘WE JUST got on with it.’ This reflection by thousands of civilians suffering and dealing with a dreadful set of circumstances some 80 years ago, both here in Guernsey and (of a different nature but still appalling in other ways) in the UK echoes down the decades as a characteristic of a special generation.

The tangible spirit of Guernsey Together has meant that we have all ‘just got on with it’ in thousands of different ways over the past 15 months, with both elected and appointed leaders delivering policies that have kept us safe.

But while we all understood why the severe economic, social and personal price had to be paid again and again, while we enjoyed social intercourse of a type unknown almost anywhere else in the world, the successful roll-out of the vaccination programme and the gradual opening up of many other neighbouring economies is causing mass (but admittedly not universal) asking of the ‘if not now, then when?’ question. Our isolated situation came with a high price tag.

The enforced quarantine of people with proof of two jabs is dislocating a society aching to get back to normality in its dealings with the UK. Getting the tourists back, getting the new business generation visits back, enabling residents to visit the mainland and return without then being prevented from getting on with their lives, all this will add immeasurable value to the personal, health, social welfare and economic bottom line of our island.

But in the face of people who wanted to continue not ‘just getting on with it’, presumably scared of the inevitable day when we all have to learn to live with Covid, faced with the temptation to hide behind the increase in the number of cases in the UK and delay the emergence of Guernsey blinking falteringly into the sunlight of normality, our political and appointed leaders have thankfully had the guts to stick to their guns and deliver, on 1 July, the largest step yet towards that normality.

They are to be applauded. But then they knew the alternative was worse – we just can’t go on like this any more.

There will always be a reason to delay, since this disease is sadly going to be with us forever. The race is now on to get everyone double-vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Democracies basically rule themselves, since elected governments find it almost impossible to deal with mass civil disobedience. We never want to be in a position where laws are disregarded because they are seen as unfair, impractical or damaging by the majority. The rules of the last 15 months have worked because Guernsey ‘got it’.

There is a sense that Guernsey was beginning to ask ‘why should we have this imposed upon us?’ more and more.

What we, the lucky ones with two jabs in our arms, should all do in response is be wary, act responsibly, don’t start auditioning for the ‘Idiot of the Week Award’, but make the most of the opportunities that have been presented to us and give Guernsey Together its next successful iteration.