Public health officials and politicians call it “virus fatigue.” It’s nothing of the sort, of course. When people demonstrate and protest against restrictions on their movements or livelihoods that are imposed on them by governments, their natural inclination is to exercise their god-given right to say “no.”
It has nothing to do with “fatigue” and everything to do with freedom.
Protesters set trash bins afire and police responded with hydrant sprays in downtown Rome Tuesday night, part of a day of public outpouring of anger against virus-fighting measures like evening shutdowns for restaurants and bars and the closures of gyms and theaters — a sign of growing discontent across Europe with renewed coronavirus restrictions.
Pedestrians and motorists returning home from work in Rome were taken by surprise when protesters, some of them hooded and members of an extreme-right political group, set afire to trash bins in Piazza del Popolo, overturned parked motor scooters and mopeds and hurled smoke bombs, state TV reported. Police vans unleashed torrents of water to disperse them.
It’s not just in Italy. Across the continent, ordinary people (not the “extreme right wing”) are making their feelings about new restrictions known.
Over the weekend, police used pepper spray against protesters angry over new virus restrictions in Poland. Spanish doctors staged their first national walkout in 25 years on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.
In Britain, anger and frustration at the government’s uneven handling of the pandemic has erupted into a political crisis over the issue of hungry children.
After the restrictions, what then? The restrictions will bring down the virus numbers marginally, but when the cities reopen, the virus will come roaring back. Are we condemned to repeat this cycle endlessly or do we put a stop to it and allow people freedom of choice?
Not if public health bureaucrats and politicians have anything to say about it.
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said the European Union’s open borders might even need to be shut down again to “take the heat out of this phase of the pandemic.”
“There’s no question that the European region is an epicenter of disease right now,” he said.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said even more stringent measures should be applied to stop the virus.
People are tired of being told what to do — especially when the virus apparently doesn’t care who’s open, who’s closed, who wears a mask, and who social distances. You may be less likely to get the virus if you wear a mask and stand six feet away from everyone, but it’s no guarantee with the virus hanging in the air for hours after a carrier has left the scene.
The virus is a force of nature. Our puny efforts to slow it down or “control” it or defeat it are worse than futile when you look at what we’re doing to ourselves.