The drumbeat has begun for another round in Covid restrictions.

The NHS Confederation, the body representing NHS staff, wants the Government to impose ‘Plan B’ to manage rising cases – with masks mandatory again in public spaces, home-working and vaccine passports.

Unite, the trade union, has demanded that masks be reinstated on public transport.

On Thursday, the British Medical Association accused Ministers of ‘wilful negligence’ for rejecting a move to ‘Plan B’.

Officially, the Government has not responded to these calls.

And dissenting Tory MPs have condemned them, with Steve Baker accusing technocrats of sacrificing Britain’s freedoms on the altar of healthcare administration.

The NHS Confederation wants the Government to impose 'Plan B' to manage rising cases, with masks mandatory again in public spaces, home-working and vaccine passports

The NHS Confederation is asking the Government to implement ‘Plan B’ in order to manage rising cases. This would include masks being mandatory in public spaces, home-working, and vaccination passports.

He says: ‘We cannot allow the liberties of the people of this country to be a tool of NHS capacity management.’

But as Britain faces such calls to ‘protect the NHS’ at the expense of going about our everyday lives, it’s worth remembering who has paid the steepest price for measures taken to protect it so far. Who is the most afraid of the NHS collapsing?

With the UK birth rate below replacement since the 1970s, the baby-boomer generation is the country’s largest single cohort, with 14.28 million members in 2019.

According to the Financial Times, this group holds about 80 percent of all wealth in the UK, including more than half UK housing wealth.

With the boomers retiring, one of the most worrying trends in politics is the growing disintegration of solidarity between the powerful and wealthy generation and the generations that follow them.

This conflict is most well-known as the standoff between older people who oppose housing over-development and young people who want affordable homes.

In a by-election campaign dominated in part by debates about the Green Belt, the seemingly safe Tory seat in Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire was lost to the Lib Dems.

Another problem is how to finance the rising costs of adult social-care services, especially when the ratio of taxpaying working adults to retirees shrinks.

Perhaps the most overlooked source of tension is for many, literally a matter-of-life and death: Covid restraints.

So far, the Government has resisted these calls for another round of Covid restrictions

These calls for a second round of Covid restrictions have been resisted by the Government so far

During the pandemic, older generations supported restrictions more strongly than younger ones.

A YouGov poll conducted in January found that ninety-two percentage of over-65s were in favor of lockdowns.

This is understandable as, according to Age UK, the risk of catching Covid increases rapidly after 60 years. It goes from less than 1 in 1,000 for those under 60 to 18 per 1,000 for those over 90.

However, Britons from all age groups support lockdowns. This is a commendable act of solidarity that helps protect the most vulnerable to serious illnesses.

But while lockdowns have taken their toll on us all, they’ve impacted cruelly on the young, starting with babies and their mothers.

Mind, a mental health charity reports that new moms have suffered from severe post-birth isolation and anxiety due to the closing of support groups and services.

Miserable mothers mean miserable babies: 47 per cent of new mums interviewed by the Parent-Infant Foundation reported concerns over their little ones’ clinginess.

Another 26 percent were concerned about their children’s tantrums and crying. These worries were reported by the poorest mothers twice as often as their wealthier peers.

And it’s not just babies who have suffered. Children’s wellbeing has suffered across the board: one recent study by YoungMinds found that 80 per cent of young people said the pandemic had worsened their mental health.

It’s also devastated schooling.

Teachers worked hard during lockdown for some form of continuing education.

But shutting schools has blown a huge crater in a generation’s learning – a crater that gets bigger the poorer you are.

According to the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), engagement is patchy with only around 40% of students returning their most recent assignment. Engagement was even lower in the most disadvantaged areas.

It’s hardly surprising. Even the most motivated student will struggle with remote learning in a chaotic environment with limited internet access.

And when the charity MSI Choices reports a 33 per cent increase in domestic violence during the pandemic, it’s likely many of these children were trying to study in just such frightening conditions.

Meanwhile, university-age youth were encouraged to return to campus, only to be locked down again and told to link up to video lectures and tutorials from their digs – while paying full tuition fees.

It’s not just students who were isolated. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that people aged 16-29 were twice as likely to feel lonely as those over-70s during the pandemic.

As Britain faces such calls to ¿protect the NHS¿ at the expense of going about our everyday lives, it¿s worth remembering who has paid the steepest price for measures taken to protect it so far

As Britain faces such calls to ‘protect the NHS’ at the expense of going about our everyday lives, it’s worth remembering who has paid the steepest price for measures taken to protect it so far

According to the Mental Health Foundation, the most lonely were young people, single parents, and full-time students.

The economic shock has also been devastating for the young. Another ONS report shows more than two-thirds (63%) of those who lost work during the pandemic were aged under 25.

Young people who kept their jobs were also hard pressed. Some older workers with families, spacious homes and established careers welcomed the opportunity to work from home – but the arrangement has been less happy for young working adults.

Training is essential for early-career workers: IPSOS reports 60 percent of workers under 24 years old and 50% of 25-to-40 year-olds struggle while being deprived of face to face time with their peers.

And to cap it all, the Government recently announced that working-age adults will have to pay a new ‘health and social care levy’ to help fund the NHS. For young graduates earning more than £30,000, this will amount to a 50 per cent tax rate.

A recent study found that the Covid death rate among under-18s is approximately two per million.

Despite this low risk, the young made these sacrifices with little to no regrets.

They have given up friendships, opportunities, education, and their mental well-being to stop the spread coronavirus.

They’ve shown a willingness to forgo life experience, to face stunted career prospects and loneliness, to miss out on life and love and learning.

They’ve endured missed schooling and developmental delays. Domestic violence. Poverty. To pay for the aftermath, higher taxes are required.

Britain’s youth are a far cry from the whining, self-absorbed snowflakes of cruel stereotype.

During the pandemic, they’ve shown a public-spirited solidarity for which we should all be grateful.

Technocrats as well as politicians are creating yet another round of terror in the health sector.

This isn’t to protect the public. They’re doing it to shield their fraying fiefdoms from the kind of pressure that would show up years of maladministration.

We can argue all day about how the NHS got into such a state that it might seem reasonable to abolish civil liberties so our healthcare infrastructure doesn’t fall over.

And of course it’s wrong to pit the generations against one another.

We now know the devastating facts about the risks, and costs, of Covid, almost two years after the terrible pandemic.

Pictured: National Medical Director for NHS England Stephen Powis. While lockdowns have taken their toll on us all, they¿ve impacted cruelly on the young, starting with babies and their mothers.

Pictured: Stephen Powis (National Medical Director for NHS England). While lockdowns have taken their toll on us all, they’ve impacted cruelly on the young, starting with babies and their mothers.

We will pit the elderly against the young if we don’t pay the fair price for a virus control measure that poses no danger to children and youths.

No one is threatening a return to a full lockdown – yet. But we’re told that Cabinet Office officials are discussing a ‘Plan C’ that would forbid mixing between households.

The drum beat is becoming louder every day.

As the country faces this prospect, we need much more vocal solidarity for the young people who are Britain’s future.

They have made great sacrifices over the past two-years, despite not being at risk from Covid.

We must defend everyday life for the good of our community and the youth.

This is a big task for an individualistic, secular boomer generation, often gripped with a fear of dying.

It is essential that Britain has higher principles than mere survival if it wants to be a nation that will last through the generations. 

Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.