It is almost three years since the first case of a novel coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, China.
It’s just over two and a half years since Boris Johnson gave us a “very simple instruction”, that we “must stay at home”, followed – three days later – by a law that for the first time in our history would impose a 24-hour curfew on almost the entire population. The years, months, weeks and days since have been so relentless – and at times almost beyond belief – that it is difficult to begin to process them. Many of us have experienced personal bereavement, and everyone has been touched in some way.
But as tempting as it is to move on, to focus on other important issues vexing our society, there are some aspects of the past three years we must face up to.
There are a hundred lenses through which to view this important period in modern history, but as a barrister I have looked at the more than 100 laws that placed England in lockdown, imposed hotel quarantine, international travel restrictions, self-isolation, face coverings and business closures.
These were probably the strangest and most extraordinary laws in England’s history, imposing previously unimaginable restrictions on our social lives, bringing into the realm of the criminal law areas of life – where we could worship, when we could leave home, even who we could hug – that had previously been purely a matter of personal choice.