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DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Cut quarantine for a happy new year, Prime Minister 

Tonight, whether we are tipsily linking arms with loved ones to belt out Auld Lang Syne or taking precautions with a quiet night at home, a thought may cross our minds: What a difference a year makes.

Think back 12 months and the future looked decidedly bleak. Covid deaths were rocketing. Millions lived under onerous curbs. And Britain was sliding inexorably towards another lockdown.

Now, thanks to the vaccine miracle, the country is in an ineffably better place.

Yes, Omicron is spreading troublingly fast and England is not restriction-free. But unlike 2020’s washout, we can celebrate New Year with friends and family, make merry in pubs, and attend parties if we wish.

This paper trusts that after a torrid few weeks of scandal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will regain his mojo and continue building a better Britain 

Boris Johnson has rightly ignored scientists’ fire-and-brimstone predictions of disaster unless he curtailed our freedoms.

Not, as some opponents howled absurdly, because he is playing fast and loose with the nation’s health. Just the opposite.

The Prime Minister has studied real-world data – not finger-in-the-wind modelling – showing Omicron is significantly milder than earlier variants. He has also factored in the ruinous economic, social and health costs of punishing curbs.

As a result, he believes the public should be trusted to act responsibly and keep themselves and others safe. But as so often at New Year, there is a looming hangover. In this case, a woeful lack of Covid tests.

Demand for swabs has surged as millions heed advice to ensure they are not contagious before socialising.

Combined with relaxed rules allowing those who caught the virus to end self-isolation after seven days if they test negative, this has created a perfect storm.

Of course, it is fantastic the public are testing so enthusiastically. But shouldn’t the Government have ensured there were enough kits to go round in the first place?

Consequently, some will be disappointed at missing out on New Year celebrations. More seriously, though, many sectors are struggling due to burdensome quarantine.

If NHS staff are stuck at home, patients’ lives are endangered. If police officers cannot resume work, criminals have less to fear.

If teachers are sick, and pupils can’t have their required swabs, schools may threaten to stay closed next week – further harming children’s education. Firms are suffering crippling staff shortages – jeopardising jobs, incomes and the fragile recovery.

Ministers must strain every sinew to ease the crisis. One way would be to copy the US’s lead and slash self-isolation to five days, emphasising mask-wearing rather than testing, if symptoms have eased.

Families already face a dismal New Year, with soaring costs putting further strain on squeezed household budgets. If Britain also grinds to a halt, some will begin to question Mr Johnson’s competence.

Still, there are many reasons to be cheerful. The booster rollout is going great guns. The UK is tipped to outgun all other advanced economies in 2022. The stock market is at a near record high.

This paper trusts that after a torrid few weeks of scandal, the PM will regain his mojo and continue building a better Britain.

To you, our wonderful readers, and your loved ones, we wish a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

The BBC’s brass neck

IF ANY other media organisation sails close to the wind on standards, they are sanctimoniously denounced by the BBC.

So it sticks in the craw that BBC World News interviewed ‘constitutional lawyer’ Alan Dershowitz about the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict without making clear he himself had been accused of sexual abuse by his pal Jeffrey Epstein’s victims?

Was this a genuine blunder? Or double standards? Either way, it was an egregious error and a gross insult to the brave victims who have finally seen justice done.

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