I relish the return of life to our high streets. But our second-rate leaders need a bolder vision | Will Hutton


Epic challenges face us, yet the government is unprepared and devoid of imagination

The last week has been my most human for four months. I have been to a hairdresser; eaten out in restaurants and at friends’ homes; played tennis and golf; stood in the street talking with work colleagues; and, what seemed most novel of all, shared a beer in a pub. It all feels rather heady.

But none of it was normal. Everybody wore masks at the hairdresser; the restaurants were deserted; windows and doors were wide open at my friends; we had the inside of the pub to ourselves. Meanwhile, Zooming continues unabated; public transport still seems a risk of last resort; and, in the supermarket on Friday, I wore a mask like everyone else – and thought this right and unremarkable. Go into our city centres and they are eerily quiet. What is human and how we interact are being redefined.

Suddenly it is obvious that a resilient public health system is the cornerstone of a functioning economy and society.

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