IF we continue to be good and obedient citizens, Boris Johnson says we might be allowed to kiss and embrace our family and friends from June 21.

When it comes to “normal family gatherings where we can hug our loved ones”, Nicola Sturgeon is vaguer, possibly in late June, or maybe over the summer, she says.

I treat such pronouncements with the contempt they merit. How dare the state prohibit us from from demonstrating physical affection?

Love is the most essential requirement for human wellbeing and confidence. Without it, we inhabit a sad, lonely half-existence. What never-ending emergency – surely a contradiction in terms? – is graver than a life deprived of love and human contact?

Yet many people have not even blinked at this unprecedented government intrusion in their lives. And having got away with proscribing normal human behaviour for a year, politicians feel entitled to do so again.

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The nearer we get to liberation dates in June, the more reluctant the powers-that-be are to liberate us.

Johnson’s thuggish lieutenant Dominic Raab and a series of power-puffed academics are assiduously seeding the thought that some restrictions will have to stay in place over the summer.

Covid has unleashed the tyrant in government and academia. James Naismith, another professor-dictator, says: “I think we’ll re-impose mask wearing in the winter in crowded indoor spaces. It has the benefit of reducing flu.”

Why not throw in an autumn lockdown for good measure, Prof?

The very real threat that we’ll never be free of masks, social distancing, and other restrictions demonstrates yet again the elasticity of Covid promises. “Just until we flatten the curve” is in danger of morphing into a coup that disables normal human life indefinitely.

Multiple councils around the UK are recruiting Covid marshals until January 31, with the possibility of extending the contract until 2023.

The UK Government's SAGE advisers seem determined to keep restrictions going, as noted in their recent minutes: “As settings reopen, prevention measures will be important, eg... use of face coverings, physical distancing, adherence to quarantine, and encouraging vaccination.”

Westminster has just signed off a £320 million contract for more of those fear-inflating, horror-genre Covid adverts that runs till March 2022.

If you think the state is going to all this effort for one virus, you need to wise up.

Until 2020, democratic governments’ pandemic plans were constrained by liberal principles based on the rights and freedoms of the individual.

The emphasis then was on isolating those already infected, or most at risk. This established public health formula was akin to the “focused protection” approach advocated by the medics and scientists who signed the Great Barrington Declaration, which challenges lockdowns.

On the other hand, China, a full-on Communist, authoritarian, one-party state, imposed stringent lockdowns, rigorously monitoring compliance through systematic surveillance of every aspect of its citizens lives.

This Chinese model inspired the High Priesthood of Modellers. Last year Professor Neil Ferguson told The Times: “We couldn’t get away with [lockdowns] in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.”

In other words, they copied the Chinese government’s strategy.

It’s not hard to understand why, when subjected to a non-stop barrage of visceral fear, sanctioned as justified by ‘experts’, and churned out as unimpeachable fact by most of the media, we were prepared to bolt our doors and cut ourselves off from the rest of humanity. But this experience has distorted our perception of risk. We now must correct it.

The Herald:

If a healthy 35-year-old woman has the misfortune to be infected with Covid, she has a 99.99% chance of surviving; that’s less than the fatality risk for a general anaesthetic.

A 55-year-old man with co-morbidities – other serious conditions – has a 99.21% survival chance; that’s less than the risk of a person in that age group dying of any cause.

A healthy 75-year-old woman has a 99.82% chance of surviving; that’s less than the risk of being injured in a car accident.

Even an 85-year-old man with co-morbidities has a 79.91% chance of surviving; that’s better odds than living in a care home for a year.

The overall infection fatality rate from Covid in Western countries is held to be 0.8%, or lower. There is no evidence that any variant is more deadly. The average age of those killed by Covid in the UK is 82.4 years old, which is older than the average Scottish life expectancy.

Covid deaths have slumped to single figures. Last Monday, only one death was announced across the whole of the UK. The BBC drowned that heartening fact in pessimistic conjectural reports about the carnage that might ensue if restrictions were lifted. It’s almost as if some news outlets are sorry to see the Covid threat subside.

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According to a group of modellers at University College London not afforded the automatic media amplification of their doom-purveying colleagues at Imperial, the UK reached herd immunity on April 12, through vaccination or previous infection.

It’s time to return to normal life.

Thus far, most people have abided by the ever-changing slew of Covid-related regulations, believing that they were necessary and temporary. Their faith evaporates as the months roll on.

Others see the rules as cruel and senseless, and find discreet ways to bend them. More frightened of public shaming than the virus, the horror of being demonised as a Covid-spreading bad citizen is what keeps them in line.

Then there are those who continue to interpret the rules more strictly than any police officer. They wear masks as they drive their cars, despite the risk being non-existent. They mask up outside in the fresh air, even though the theory of outdoors transition has been more or less abandoned. They obsessively wash and quarantine their groceries when not even the government urges them to do so.

It’s doubtful that these people whose fight-or-flight instincts have been so effectively triggered will ever feel safe amongst their fellow human beings again. Their fear has become a lifetime habit. If they want to treat their loved ones like lepers, let them do so. But any authority that tries to tell me to live like that can take a hike.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.