Liberty at Large

By Jacqui McLean 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused countries across the world to alter their ways of living. Oftentimes, these large changes are made by the assistance of the government. Whether that be stay at home orders or stimulus relief checks, governments globally have had a huge role in the pandemic. However, now that numbers are falling anc vaccines are being distributed , the role of the government is becoming more obsolete. But many leaders; particularly in the UK, are not quite ready to give up their newfound power that they have been granted due to state of emergency orders. 

One of the greatest offenders of overstepping their government role is France. During the state of emergency order, policies that would otherwise be viewed as non democratic; tracking citizens and implementing a curfew, were imposed. While many understood this government intervention, France has now extended their state of emergency order through September, even though significant progress has been made in testing and vaccination. The extension of the state of emergency order will now allow French President Emmanuel Macron to impose more restrictions and regulations including health passes. Health passes would show immunization records including whether a person has been vaccinated or not. In fact, these actions have even been viewed as a significant concern to democracy by the Democracy Reporting International. This overstep is slowly becoming a concern for many  French who see their once liberal ways being now threatened. Along with France, countries such as Hungary, Belgium, and Lithuania have also come under attack for overstepping on coronavirus policies. Hungary even went so far as to pass a piece of legislation allowing Hungarian officials to rule unopposed with no judicial oversight. 

It is worrisome to think that governments are so unwilling to relinquish the temporary authority that they have been granted due to extreme circumstances. Even more frightening, many leaders in the UK refuse to establish a timeline to relinquish their power. A pandemic should not be taken as an opportunity to gain greater control over one’s citizens. It will be interesting to see how those in the UK react as their personal liberties slowly eroding.