Monday, October 12th
Phew. We haven’t got all the details yet, but Greater Manchester will be in Tier 2, along with the rest of Lancashire (excluding areas under Merseyside and Cumbria), some neighbouring parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire, the Birmingham and Leicester areas, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire (I think?) and West Yorkshire. London, natch, gets to be in Tier 1 … which I’m glad of for my sister’s sake. But Merseyside is in Tier 3, so my friends and cousins in Liverpool and Southport (the Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens are also affected, as in Widnes even though it isn’t even in Merseyside) are now banned from meeting anyone outside their households/bubbles, and “asked” not to travel outside the area. Gyms will be closing, as well as pubs, bars, casinos, adult gaming centres and bookmakers. Restaurants, cafes and tea rooms can stay open, which is something. But what a nightmare.
Our restrictions seem to be much the same as before – and actually slightly easier, as we are now allowed to meet up in private gardens.
Some financial measures have been announced, but they won’t be enough.
Exams are to be delayed by 3 weeks.
I should therefore be able to go on holiday. I usually start packing 2 weeks beforehand, and am now frantically trying to do everything at the last minute!
Tuesday, October 13th
Just when you thought you knew where you were up to … Boris has made it pretty clear that he wants to move us (and possible Newcastle and other areas too?) into Tier 3. He can piss off. Infection rates here are falling since they locked up the students in their halls of residence. And Sadiq Khan’s said that London will probably be moving into Tier 2 next week. FFS! I thought the whole idea of this was to reduce confusion, not increase it.
One local MP’s resigned as a Junior Minister, saying he’s had enough. I can’t say I blame him.
Meanwhile, because I thought we were going into Tier 3, on Friday I booked today off work to go to Windermere. I am so glad I did. It was a lovely sunny day, and I had such a lovely time. Tighter restrictions are inevitably coming, so, as long as we are not doing anything to endanger ourselves or others, I suggest that we enjoy ourselves as much as we can, whilst we can.
To be fair to Boris & co, I do appreciate that pretty much every country in Europe is in the same mess. And I do appreciate that this is the way pandemics go: you do get second waves.
Deaths with the virus are up.
So is unemployment.
Friends and relatives in Merseyside – and, as my grandad came from Liverpool, and NW Manchester is only about 20 miles from the Merseyside border, I’ve got plenty of them – are very, very upset about being in Tier 3. It’s not the pubs and restaurants, it’s the being banned from seeing even your immediate relatives and closest friends, other than the people you actually live with. Parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles and nieces and nephews, cousins, partners who don’t live together, best friends … and this is for 4 weeks at the very least. Although apparently it’s still OK to meet up in parks – I hadn’t realised that.
Wednesday, October 14th
I don’t half wish I’d booked this holiday for a different time. But how was I to know that this was going to happen? I booked it months ago. There was supposed to be a meeting today about Greater Manchester and Merseyside, but nothing’s been said. The North is united – Mancunians and Scousers, Geordies and Mackems, Lancastrians and Yorkshire folk, all of us – but we’re united against Westminster. Against the government which is supposed to represent us.
Wales is banning anyone from high risk areas of England and Scotland from entering Wales.
Nicola Sturgeon is trying to blame the rise in coronavirus cases in Scotland on trips to Blackpool.
With the Ould Firm match this weekend, and pub closures in Scotland, we’re likely to see the biggest Scottish invasion of England since 1745.
Northern Ireland is going for the two week circuit breaker idea.
Keir Starmer, Ed Davey, Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and many others have backed the same idea here. As have the scientists. But Boris says that closing bars etc for two weeks would ruin the economic recovery. Yet apparently it’s OK to close them in Merseyside indefinitely.
My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. But I could yet be unpacking them and, if that’s on Friday, paying a penalty clause for cancelling the hotel.
Zillions of people are going away. People were partying on the streets on Liverpool yesterday. But, being anxiety-ridden, I feel guilty. Why do I feel guilty? I booked this ages ago. I won’t be going anywhere busy. I’ll be outdoors most of the time, and on my own when I’m indoors.
If I go.
At least I’ve only got another two days of this horrible, stressful uncertainty.
And the Christmas markets have been cancelled. It had to happen, but it’s very sad. They were started in 1996 to help our city to recover from the IRA bomb, and have become such a huge part of the city and of Christmas.
Thursday, October 15th
I cannot believe what is going on. It was announced all over the media this morning that Greater Manchester would be moving into Tier 3 lockdown tomorrow, and that this would be confirmed in a statement in the House of Commons at 11:30 am. I prepared to cancel my holiday, but couldn’t do much at that point as I had to get to the dentist’s. By the time I got back from the dentist’s, it was being said that no agreement had been reached. And that’s where we’re at. It’s been made pretty clear that the Government was all set to impose Tier 3 by force, but met with such hostility from a united front of Conservative and Labour MPs that they backed down. Andy Burnham has made a furious attack on the Government, saying that the proposed measures won’t work and the financial support offered is inadequate, and leaders in the North East have said much the same.
It’s like something out of the Middle Ages. The North is in open revolt against the Government, and the Welsh First Minister’s said he’s putting out patrols to look for suspicious (i.e. English) people trying to enter Wales.
How the hell have we come to this?
Meanwhile, after about 35 hours in Tier 1, the whole of London, along with Barrow, York, Chesterfield, Essex and several other areas have been moved to Tier 2.
My head is spinning. I just cannot believe what is going on.
I have decided to leave tomorrow evening, and stay overnight in the Midlands. Just in case there’s an announcement tomorrow. I can’t take any more. I suppose I’d still be breaking rules if we got moved into Tier 3, but I doubt anyone would blame me for not coming home once I’d left, and I can’t cancel the hotel any later than tonight without paying £125.
And Margaret Ferrier, the MP who took a public train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus, has been let off without even a fine.
I want to cry. How have we come to this? I know she can’t, but I half-wish that the Queen could step in.
Friday, October 16th
Made it to the Midlands! Charlecote, near Warwick. It’s like a different world here. People can actually sit in a restaurant with friends and relatives!
1974 boundaries Lancashire (I really do object to saying “Lancashire” for an area which excludes so much of real Lancashire, but anyway) is to move into Tier 3. So most of the Blackpool half-term bookings will be cancelled. The Illuminations are on for an extra three months, to try to make up for some of the lost business … and now this. Oh, what a nightmare all this is. And still no decision on Greater Manchester.
Saturday, October 17th
The Government says that talks will resume tomorrow. Andy Burnham says he doesn’t know anything about it.
Meanwhile, I am in Somerset! Via Charlecote Park. It’s so, so different down here. So few people. So few towns. This is what is going on with the virus – it’s all about population density. Anyway, at least I’m getting my break!
Sunday, October 18th
A group of snotty southern Tory MPs have written a letter urging leaders of Greater Manchester to agree to move into Tier 3. Several Greater Manchester Tory MPs, including ours, have told them to mind their own business. What a mess all this is. Honestly, it’s starting to feel a bit like the beginning of an American Civil War novel, with the country split between north and south.
I’ve had a lovely day, in Bradford-on-Avon, Norton St Philip, Great Chalfield and Westbury. But it feels as if the world’s gone mad.
So what happens now …. ?