It is easy to tell when a sporting event is over. Either a prerequisite number of wins have been attained (e.g. tennis) or a finish line has been crossed. In time-based games, a siren or bell sounds to inform players, umpires and the crowd that time is up, and the game is over. It is fairly straight forward.

After more than 18 months, people all around the world are waiting for the end of pandemic restrictions and the ability to return to normal life (not some sort of “new normal”). Currently there are a myriad of different levels of restrictions in different countries and even different states or counties in the same country.

Through the entire journey, the public has been told that politicians are acting on health advice. Yet, the level of secrecy surrounding this advice is comparable to top secret defence papers. Governments have gone to court to get suppression orders in opposition to freedom of information requests. There has never been any answer as to why this advice needs to be hidden from the public.

So, who will ring the bell that signifies the pandemic has ended? And on what will it be based?

The UK declared “Freedom Day” on July 19 and removed all restrictions. This was when vaccination rates were around 60%. My understanding is that there are no mask mandates, no use of QR codes and no vaccination passports. There are requirements in people coming into the UK to be vaccinated and have a negative test. Sweden never imposed lockdowns and much to the chagrin of some, has managed far better than many countries with harsh restrictions. Denmark no longer treats Covid 19 as different to any other virus.

In the USA there are a number of different approaches in different states. Yet there is no clear correlation between numbers of positive tests and degree of restrictions.

In Australia, the state with the longest period of lockdown and the harshest restrictions has the highest number of positive tests and deaths.  Certain elements were fiercely critical of the New South Wales government for not locking down hard enough and for removing restrictions too early. Yet their positive test numbers continue to decline.

Vaccination rates of variably 70, 80 and 90% are bandied around by politicians as targets for changes in policy with regards restrictions and entry into jurisdictions.  All are claiming to be acting on health advice. There is a massive difference between 70% and 90%. Why is one level acceptable in one place but not another?  On which papers or data is the differing advice based on?

So far this is also in the top secret dossier.

Research is showing a significant decrease in cancer testing and treatments, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and a significant increase in mental health issues (especially, but not only in teenagers). All these have consequences, and they will be felt for many years. These are health issues not economic ones.

The public have been very patient and compliant. This is despite many losing their jobs or businesses and not being able to be with loved ones.

One senses that patience is starting to wear thin. At some point the public needs to see an exit point. They need confidence that a lockdown will not be instituted if there is a positive test somewhere. They need confidence that getting vaccinated is a pathway back to freedom of movement and association.

This requires leadership, which is taking advice and making decisions, not following advice. Leadership is about setting a direction that people want to follow not forcing people to go in a direction.

The virus will become endemic and is not leaving planet earth. This reality that an airborne virus cannot be crushed and eliminated is “mugging” politicians one at a time.  Ultimately to return to the question of when does this end?  It ends when we accept reality, that we need to live with this virus. Nobody is going to ring a bell.