Another step CV#14

We had our second Pfizer vaccination today. It was so quiet, the ‘jabbers’ were jokingly touting for business 🙂

This week the pubs and restaurants were allowed to serve outdoors. Fortunately there has been no sign of rain, although it has been unseasonably cold with some north wind.

Enterprising pubs and restaurants have capitalised on outdoor seating, by both extending or covering what area they already had. A shower of rain will prove interesting, but it hasn’t happened yet. Pubs with no outdoor seating have another month to wait.

When it changed on Monday last they were expectedly busy, but weekdays since then have been quieter. It will be interesting to see what transpires this weekend in terms of a rise in infections in the weeks to come.

Non-essential shops are now open. The wearing of masks indoors is now an accepted part of life.

Small steps are being taken nationally with limited audiences to the current World Championship Snooker tournament and the second FA Cup semi-final. Spectators to these events must have proof they are Covid-free, wear masks and be socially distanced when not in a family ‘bobble’. These venues are bar and restaurant free. There is also a proposal for an outdoor ‘gig’ with no restrictions beyond proof of a negative test.

50. Roadmap to normality CV#13

The Prime Minister outlined a ‘Roadmap’ to end the restrictions imposed. It consists of four blocks, each lasting five weeks. Each block is more ‘lenient’ than the last until sometime in July, things should be back to normal.

Each step allows for more social contact especially a return to school. Restaurants with outdoor seating will be the first to open, but not until mid-April at the same time as non-essential shops and hairdressers. Indoor pubs will have to wait until mid-May

All this is dependent on no flare-ups of cases in the meantime. It is not absolutely clear, to me when wearing a mask indoors will be relaxed and social distancing reduced.

49. Light at the end of the tunnel? CV#12

Three weeks on from my last post and it would seem that new cases are levelling off and in most areas including ours, falling slowly.

At this time there have been 3.9 million cases in the UK with 110,000 deaths Nationally 800,000+ people had the virus last week this equates to the level last October before the recent rise.

90% of over 75s have been vaccinated (Including me). This vaccination is not in itself active against the virus, but enhances the body’s response to it. It will be followed by a second ‘jab’ in 12 weeks to increase the effect. People have had to be constantly reminded that this is not a cure and one can still be infected and pass it on. The virus has mutated many times, usually into a more infectous variant. It is not certain that the vaccine will be effective against these other forms, but we are being assured that it is most likely. IMO since the body is the tool and not the vaccine itself, that seems reasonable. However nothing is certain and that light may well be a long way off.

48. Second or is it third lockdown? – CV#11

As many people predicted, the loosening of regulations at Christmas has caused a surge in cases in the new year. The original plane to allow families to meet up for five days was reduced to Christmas Day only, but people being unwilling to stick to this has the consequences we all feared.

As a result another lockdown has been imposed and although a little less severe than the last, it means that people should only leave home for exercise in their local area and to shop for food and necessities. Supermarkets are back to ‘clicking’ customers in and out, but there appears to have been little panic buying of toilet rolls and hand gel. In our area the wearing of face-masks inside shops has been good, but it is now compulsory unless you have an exemption. Many people are choosing to shop for groceries online, which has resulted in increased congestion by students(?) collecting items for delivery while normal customers are shopping. Fines are being imposed by police on those who are away from home without good reason although people are still going to beauty-spots when the weather is fine.

There has been a roll-out of several vaccines, particularly for the elderly. They all consist of two injections a few weeks apart. This does not make one immune from day-one, but creates antibodies which in time will fight the virus. However experience tells us that people will not listen, or more likely will not understand, and once vaccinated they will go back to their former behaviour. Today Scotland has increased the severity of their lockdown and there seems to be a likelihood that England will follow suit.

47. It just got worse – CV#10

The virus has morphed into a more contagious variant and as as a result a new tier TIER 4 has been imposed on London and the South-East. This is effectively the same as the original full lockdown with non-essential shops closed along with pubs and restaurants.

The government under Boris Johnson were hoping that the Covid restrictions regarding families meeting could be relaxed for FIVE days around Christmas Day, but this was obviously a silly idea from the start .That has been abandoned with two families being the maximum allowed to meet indoors aka a ‘bubble’. The concept of ‘bubbles’ means that you can meet a limited number if people (the number has varied) and those people only. People in Tier 4 may not meet indoors with anyone they don’t normally live with. No other person form another tier may include anyone from Tier 4.

This has also had the knock-on effect that people cannot travel within the country or abroad, without good reason and people have to do Christmas shopping for both presents and food, who were not expecting to be at home. To make matters even worse, countries on the continent have removed access to us and hundreds of lorries are stuck at the channel ports. This will inevitably cause shortages of imported goods and trigger panic buying.

Of course during all this, negotiations on Brexit are deadlocked and must be completed before the turn of the year.

46. Tears from Tier 3 – CV#9

As predicted a tier system was imposed. We are in Tier 3, the most severe, not because our borough is particularly bad, but because the main population centres like Newcastle are bad and people would travel to a lower tier in order e.g. to use pubs and restaurant so we have neither. Tier two on the other hand have both and although pubs can serve until 10 pm there, they must include a ‘substantial’ meal (the contents of which are debatable).

In Tier THREE all shops are open, mask must be worn while indoor shopping and on public transport. Some people are still deniers and gathering to protest in cities like Newcastle.

The vaccine is ready and went into use this week. It will be a long time until everyone receives it, but it is a light at the end of the tunnel, unless people think this is an excuse to ignore the precautions.as Christmas approaches.

45. Second lockdown CV#8

From November 5th and until December 2nd a second lockdown has been imposed. Much the same as the first: all pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops closed. Apart from the usual whingers and ‘deniers’ most folks are wearing masks in stores and on public transport.

It seems that several vaccines are in the final stages of testing and the infection rate is at least levelling out if not falling. The fear is that because of this, people will think it’s all over and begin congregating again.

Christmas is approaching and there seems to be a feeling that if we forget all lockdown for a day or two, it want make a difference and granny will be able to come round for turkey and we can all have a party . Personally I believe that would be a recipe for disaster.

The newspapers are predicting that we will return to a tier system, but unless it is adhered to more strictly than before, then we will have learned nothing. The thought of pubs being fully open even with social distancing and hand sanitation fills me with dismay.

44 . Where are the snowflakes now? CV#7

The rise in cases of Coronavirus continues, although the term ‘exponentially’ has been much misused in the press and even by those who should know better. It is small comfort that the NHS has learned along the way and in many cases the severity of the symptoms has been reduced by the treatments. Having said that people continue to die and to reduce the likelihood, the government has introduced three tiers of ‘control’: medium, high and very high. We on Tyneside remain in what is now called High, but Liverpool, for example, has been raised to Very High, which is basically full lockdown that we all saw in the early stages. Some areas like Manchester are protesting in advance of the government raising them to the highest tier, for perhaps party-political points-scoring, whereas London has grudgingly accepted the High tier, and perhaps not before time. The upcoming weeks should prove interesting in the battle between those who know better than – well – anybody else.

The other talking point since I last wrote concerns the snowflakes in my header. As far as I understand it, the term refers to young people, particularly those at university who protest on other people’s behalf at what they see as injustice. So it has been interesting to see, that with total disregard for the protections suggested by the government, the incidence of the disease within those communities has mushroomed well beyond the aforementioned ‘exponential’. But should anyone be surprised?

When you are 18 and flogged your guts out to get the A-levels to go to university, where for the first time in your life the tings you have been yearning to have: the option of getting stoned, getting drunk and getting laid. All three you know about, what they mean and the consequences – a choice – and free from going home to the critical gaze of your family every night.

Now there is a forth choice; a disease which kills old people, sad, but true. You have never seen someone suffering with Covid, you don’t know anyone who’s had it and you may have heard about someone you know dying of it, but lots of people are dying all the time. You may know people who choked to death on their own vomit, but it didn’t stop you drinking or took and overdose or got ‘the clap’. That’s life!

Why then should we oldies who have been along the uni’ path, or not, expect those who follow, to treat Covid any differently, as all we have to go on is what we read.

I’m nearly eighty and I know of ONE person who died from it in the early weeks; I know of nobody else who has ‘caught’ it. I really don’t know what it means to have the disease. Trump had it and he’s still an arsehole; Boris had it and he still bumbles on like before. As a young undergraduate, I would have no concept of what they suffered and whether it is bad enough to stop doing what I have been looking forward to doing for so long .

I doubt it.

43. A turn for the worse? CV #6

From last Friday (18/9/2020) restrictions on the ‘North East’ became stricter. Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham council areas are included. This is not to say that all these areas have a high infection rate, but some of them do and people pass from one to another. I believe this was done at the joint request of those councils.

Beyond saying that the regulations regarding the wearing of masks, queuing at supermarkets again, the number of people allowed in a ‘bubble’ and that visiting other people’s homes became much tighter, the closing time of pubs became the main talking point.

Most people younger than I, do not know that until the late 1980s many pubs closed at 10pm. This of course did not include ‘drinking up time’ whereas under these 2020 regulations pubs must be vacated by 10pm.

These regulations become national in England from 24th September 2020, with the wearing of masks compulsory when not seated, table service, with staff in shops and pubs also having to wear masks.

42. And so it goes on – CV #5

Day 175 and approaching 6 months. A former colleague has succumbed to the virus although he did have dementia and Parkinson’s disease. R.I.P.

Although as said last time; face masks are expected to be worn in shops, a few folks still think they know best, but most comply and some wear them all the time.

The expected problem of the arrogant young has got no better as they stil believe that social distancing ‘does not apply to them’. As a consequence the number of cases has risen, to the extent that the government has ruled that, from today (14/9/2020), the maximum number of people in a group, must not exceed 6 persons. As the rule was announced last week, the uncaring youth (and some who should know better) had large gatherings at the weekend presumably believing that the virus will not have noticed. It equates in my mind to the youth of 1914 ‘taking the queen’s shilling’ to go off with their pals to war.

Just to reinforce the point, my local pub has had to close for two weeks as a member of staff has tested positive. Those who insist on standing too near the bar or not behind the perspex screens – take note.