DISTURBINGLY, like newly released prisoners, it seems we have become institutionalised, preferring the safety of our cells to an alarming, pandemic-affected world.
A new poll from Ipsos Mori bears this out, with 64 per cent supporting compulsory face masks in shops and on public transport until coronavirus is under control worldwide.
A third want the 10-day quarantine for travellers returning from abroad to last indefinitely.
And, extraordinarily, 19 per cent back a permanent, 10pm curfew, while 26 per cent would close nightclubs and casinos for good.
As I asked in the Commons recently: “What on earth is happening to our country?”
This poll illustrates how a constant torrent of fear and anxiety have stamped out our joie de vivre.
Freedom was first promised in June, then postponed to Monday next week.
If you recall, normality would return to work, schools and holidays.
We would revive the economy and refill the Treasury’s coffers, severely depleted after funding furlough, grants and the NHS over the past 16 months.
We would ditch the masks, the rule of six and the QR codes, allowing pubs, clubs and restaurants to open freely.
Travel would return, though more slowly.
The State would hand responsibility and common sense back to the citizen.
The reality, though, is a little different.
Commentators have said the Prime Minister’s announcement this week is more akin to putting us on parole!
His speech was hedged with dire warnings and another deadline in September.
Masks are still needed for crowded places and public transport, returning to the office should now only be gradual and Covid passports are likely to become the norm.
I fear Freedom Day is still a long way off.