England is scrapping its Covid rules, including the need for infected people to isolate and other parts of the UK are in the process of relaxing many of their restrictions too. Kay Morgan-Gurr is concerned the decision risks the lives of society's most vulnerable. She's calling on the Church to show a better way
As each Covid restriction has been lifted, I’ve been reminded of Gandhi's words: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
The Bible also has many passages that show how we must value the vulnerable and make sure that there is justice for them. Psalm 82:3 says: “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
This flies in the face of Boris Johnson's suggestion that we "learn to live with this virus". The safety net is being taken away as the government ends the requirement to isolate if you test positive for Covid. That requirement, along with the ability to freely test, offered us a small measure of safety, but now, just like masks, this has been taken away.
There are 3.7 million people in Britain who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid. There are countless more classified as clinically vulnerable.
Those living in poverty - some of the hardest hit by Covid - no longer have protections in place if they are ill. They will have to work, or their family will struggle even more. Teachers, shop assistants, delivery drivers, doctors and nurses will have to choose between their health and financial security.
Vulnerable children and young people have struggled with the risk that attending school in person brings, but at least they knew their school friends would be told to self isolate if they developed symptoms. Now they no longer have that assurance.
What about the young people who have taken great care not to infect their vulnerable parents? With free tests being taken away, they will no longer be able to take measures in order to keep their parents safe.
These above groups of people that I've described are everywhere in our society. I am one of them.
When politicians tells us to 'live with covid’, they forget that the word ‘live’ has a very different meaning for those of us who could die from this disease - in spite of having three doses of the vaccine. Others who catch Covid will likely find their disability worsening to the point of being even more life changing than before - possibly to the point of never being able to work again.
It would be so easy to be political about this, but what is needed is for the Church to step up, show a better way and demonstrate the love of God in the way we treat the most vulnerable. Could churches absorb the cost of testing kits and then give them away freely to those who can’t afford them? Could we ask those who are vulnerable what they actually need? (They are the experts in what we can do.) Could we be more understanding of those who are struggling with this change?
This is not misplaced fear. Those of us who are clinically vulnerable to Covid have every reason to be concerned for our own well being. This is not anxiety for the sake of being anxious. I know my body. I know how it reacts to infection - even a mild one.
Micah 6:8 tells us to "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” In this situation, we need justice, we need mercy freely given in the difficulties we face. And if we walk humbly with our God, then our attitudes will be less likely to alienate and cause distress.