Lift Covid-19 restrictions to allow people to judge risk, says ex-Australian PM

Coronavirus restrictions should be lifted so that people can make their own decisions about the risks they are prepared to run, a former Australian prime minister has urged.

Tony Abbott, who is tipped to become joint president of Britain’s relaunched Board of Trade, railed against strict lockdowns – questioning whether the measures are proportionate to the disease.

In an address to the Policy Exchange think tank in London, he said: “From a health perspective, this pandemic has been serious. From an economic perspective, it has been disastrous.

“But I suspect that, from an overall wellbeing perspective, it will turn out worst of all.

“Because this is what happens when, for much more than a mere moment, we let fear of falling sick stop us from being fully alive.

“Now that each one of us has had six months to consider this pandemic and to make our own judgments about it, surely it is time to relax the rules so that individuals can take more personal responsibility and make more of their own decisions about the risks that they are prepared to run?”

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He also warned that lockdown measures could be kept up “indefinitely” in the absence of a vaccine – and said they can produce not just a “stop-start economy, but a stop-start life”.

Mr Abbott declined to comment on reports that he has been appointed joint president of Britain’s relaunched Board of Trade.

Whitehall officials have said that no decisions have yet been made.