Under COVID-19, over-65s have been unjustly targeted with exclusion from life

It would be more logical to trust responsible adults care about their health, whether 65 or chronically ill, rather than allow this Big Brother approach... this is ageist discrimination and demeaning

The “over 65” drumbeat is becoming an insidious benchmark to denote supposed blanket vulnerability, regardless of one’s state of health or fitness
The “over 65” drumbeat is becoming an insidious benchmark to denote supposed blanket vulnerability, regardless of one’s state of health or fitness

Angela Micallef, Sliema

It is heartening to see Chris Fearne quoted to the effect that over 65-year-olds “be allowed” to access retail spaces, at the discretion of individual businesses. Indeed I read that this may or may not have been reversed. All very nebulous.

This however leaves a couple of gaping holes. For one thing, the “over 65” drumbeat is becoming an insidious benchmark to denote supposed blanket vulnerability, regardless of one’s state of health or fitness, hence risk. Also, 65 is not quite the same as 80 – I refer to EU guidelines for risk in the 50-60, 60-70 and so on age brackets. One size does not fit all.

This leads to a second point, namely if the intention is really to ‘protect’ then the only coherent approach would be to demand not ID cards but medical certificates. Because as it is, we have the nonsensical situation whereby two people, one of whom is 65 and one week old, and another is 30/40/50 but happens to be immunosuppressed, chronically ill, or in early pregnancy – that is, falling into the ‘vulnerable’ dragnet – will see the first stopped while the second breezing straight in because the ‘vulnerability’ is invisible.

Pandemic or not, the way this ‘protection’ is being implemented might be in contravention of the European Commission’s rules pertaining to Age Discrimination and European Law. It is becoming easy to target anyone over 65 (regardless of state of health) while the really health-compromised are slipping under the radar, as they are not so easy to spot outside shops. Therefore, people are being discriminated against solely on the basis of age.

As we open up progressively, and eventually look to possibly importing new COVID-19 cases once the airport reopens, this ‘over 65’ mantra is shaping up to be – God forbid – seen as the ‘new normal’. Are these people really expected to live in uncertainty up to the judgement of individual businesses (while invisible chronically health compromised are free to do whatever because ‘invisible’?) Is the new normal of eventual travel going to exclude all those over 65? 

It would be more logical to see the powers that be leave it up to the individual, trusting that responsible adults care about their health (whether 65 or chronically ill) rather than allow this Big Brother approach to continue. As it stands, this is ageist discrimination and demeaning.

It is also beginning to sound quite offensive to hear announcements to the effect that we “love our old people; want to keep enjoying them” (by keeping them locked up and segregated) This is coming across too uncomfortably as curios in a museum or animals in a zoo rather than people who may actually prefer to be allowed to live the time they have left.

For the record, I am neither over 65 nor in any way health compromised but I am allergic to illogical stupidity. A swathe of people who may be over-65 is being unjustly targeted here and we risk that their progressive exclusion from life while everybody else gets to breathe again, becomes a Kafka-meets-Monty-Python reasoning ‘new normal’.

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