I have tried to keep faith with this government, but enough is enough. If this lot had been in charge during the war, the Nazis would have been marching down the Mall by the middle of 1940. I have never known such incompetence. The announcement on tighter rules in Scotland, unpopular as it’s been in many quarters, was made last Wednesday, so people there at least know what’s going on. We in Northern England have been left to deal with day after day of speculation in the media, leaving people distraught and anxious about their livelihoods, holidays, prospects of seeing relatives and friends, and many other matters. Every newspaper and TV channel says something different, and all seem convinced that they are right.
Which areas will be affected? Definitely Liverpool. But does that just mean Liverpool, or does it mean Merseyside, meaning that places such as Southport and St Helens would be affected too? What about us, in Manchester? My newspaper says we will be affected. The BBC says we will not. Sky News says that it hasn’t been decided yet. And, again, does “Manchester” mean the city centre or does it also mean Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Stockport, etc? What about Newcastle? And Leeds? And Nottingham? Nottingham’s infection rate, albeit largely student-driven, is now over 800 per 100,000, yet no additional restrictions at all are in place there – even though they were imposed on Rossendale when its infection rate was 4 per 100,000 and Wigan when its infection rate was 7 per 100,000.
What about smaller towns and cities where the infection rate is equal to or higher those in larger cities? Bradford? Preston? Burnley?
What will it mean? Travel restrictions? I need to know: I’ve got a hotel booked for this weekend and next week. Are we to banned from leaving our areas? What does “area” mean – borough or administrative country? Does “non-essential travel” include going to the city centre shops or to a park not within walking distance?
And which businesses will have to shut? The initial rumour was pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Now they’re saying restaurants will be able to remain open, but that gyms, casinos and bookmakers will have to shut. One newspaper even mentioned hairdressers. These are people’s jobs and businesses. They need to know what’s going on.
And what about the financial support? We’ve been told 2/3 of people’s wages, but many people working in hospitality are only on the minimum wage as it is. What about other costs, such as rent? What about businesses which won’t be ordered to shut, but will be severely affected, such as hotels, taxi drivers, and those in the supply chain?
There are also rumours that shielding is going to be reintroduced.
And how long for? Four weeks initially, but some rumours say six months. There’s due to be a complete ban on household mixing. Are people seriously supposed to go for six months without seeing their families and friends? There’ll be the worst mental health pandemic that’s ever been known. And the economy will be ruined.
From what’s being said, no-one really knows, because it still hasn’t been decided, even though we’re supposed to be getting an announcement in five hours’ time.
This is beyond appalling. MPs and local council leaders, from all parties, are fuming. There’s talk of court cases. Everyone is anxious and distressed.
And nobody knows WTF is going on. Meanwhile, MPs have just bagged a pay rise of over £3,000 each. And there are no additional restrictions in any of the constituencies represented by the senior ministers. And the fates of millions of people across the North of England hang in the balance, as we try to deal with one rumour after another and have no idea what our lives will look like by the end of this week.
Get a grip, Boris. This is a shit situation. But the way it’s being dealt with is inexcusable. I’ve got two newspapers, and each one says something different, and neither of them agree with either the BBC or Sky, neither of which agree with each other. Friends have shared rumours they’ve read elsewhere, all of which are different again. The only thing anyone can agree on is that the government is making a mess of things.