DOES anyone remember the film Jaws 2? I’m referring specifically, to the movie’s tagline: ‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water’.

That’s the kind of world we are living in now. We think it’s safe (or safer), but it increasingly looks like it isn’t safe at all.

Thanks to our ever-upbeat prime minister and his ‘roadmap out of lockdown’, we are being pushed towards opening up society with many of the coronavirus restrictions eased.

Of course, the ultimate aim is to meet the June 21 deadline when all social distancing rules will be removed and the millions of people who have been advised to work from home will be told to get back to the office.

But just like a man-eating great white shark, Covid-19 is waiting below the surface.

Just to remind you, the four tests that must be passed in England for Covid restrictions to be lifted are:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

Credit where it’s due, thanks to brilliant vaccine science, the NHS, and its army of volunteers, it’s fair to say the first test appears to have been met.

There is plenty of evidence now that shows the vaccines have real-world efficacy that exceeds even the most optimistic predictions, so I take it that the second test has been passed.

The same can be said of the third test with infection rates and hospitalisations at levels not seen since the heady days of last year’s ‘Eat out to help out’ summer.

But, and this is a massive consideration, can we honestly say the fourth test has been met? It certainly doesn’t appear so in the north west with Bolton, Blackburn and Sefton seeing surges in the so-called Indian variant.

Fortunately for Warrington, our rate of infection is really low. The latest figures to May 10 show 26 Covid-19 cases were identified through lab and rapid lateral flow testing in the town. This translates to an infection rate of less than 13 per 100,000 people.

But look at a town a couple of miles up the road and it’s a different story. Bolton had 657 new cases with an infection rate of 228.5 per 100,000.

You only have to recall how the Kent variant was allowed to rip through the population over winter to see the how difficult it is to contain variants.

And who’s to blame? Boris Johnson of course.

I refer you to Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP who chairs parliament's Home Affairs Committee, who tweeted: "Why did PM not put India on the red list 2 weeks earlier when Pakistan and Bangladesh were added to red list? And why did they then delay a further 4 days to implement?"

Good question.

B1.617.2, which is the variant which is spreading most quickly in the UK and has now claimed at least four lives, was first detected in tests carried out on travellers arriving from India on the week ending March 29.

And we did nothing, despite seeing the shocking scenes coming out of India of overflowing cemeteries and crematoria, and people dying in car parks because there weren’t enough beds or oxygen to treat them.

Now call me cynical but I can’t help but wonder if this delay had something to do with the fact that Boris Johnson was meant to be travelling to India for trade negotiations (it might be churlish of me to suggest that there was a certain desperation to tie up a free trade deal with India before the EU which was running parallel negotiations – another Brexit bonus).

Finally, on the morning of April 19, Downing Street announced that Johnson's trip to India was cancelled. A few hours later, health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that India would also be added to the red list but left a window of more than three days before travel restrictions came into force.

This saw a huge spike in people travelling from India to the UK, bringing the variant with them. Just look at Bolton.

The constant theme throughout this pandemic has been the government putting wealth before health and doing too little, too late and this is another classic example.

Our only hope is that the vaccines are effective against the India variant but if they’re not, we’re in real trouble and that June 21 total relaxation of coronavirus restrictions may well prove to be over-optimistic.

If that happens, you know who to blame.