Monday, May 17th
As of today:
- Hotels guesthouses and B&Bs can reopen.
- Indoor seating at restaurants etc can reopen.
- Sports stadia can admit limited numbers of fans.
- Theatres, cinemas, museums etc can reopen.
- Saunas and steamrooms can reopen.
- People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
- Up to 30 people can attend a wedding reception.
- People can meet indoors in groups of 6, or 2 bubbles, and stay overnight.
- Some overseas travel’s resumed.
But the Indian variant’s casting a bit of a wet blanket over it all. It’s now the dominant variant in Bolton and Blackburn, and it seems highly unlikely that it won’t spread. Rates in all the local boroughs have been fluctuating – one has a couple of bad weeks and then its rates drop again, whilst another sees its rates fall right down but then go up again – but there’s been nothing to worry about for weeks … but you now have to wonder if the trend over the last few days, up in most places, might continue.
Vaccination booking’s opening up to people aged 37, then people aged 36. As happened in Blackburn last week, the authorities in Bolton wanted to open it up to anyone aged over 16, but Westminster put the kibosh on it.
Why Bolton, again. We’re hearing the usual lines about “deprivation” and “multi-generational housing” and “unable to work from home”, but they apply equally and probably even more so to, say Oldham, than to Bolton, and the infection rate in Oldham is currently below the national average. Well, this time, it’s clearly happened because someone, or presumably several someones, brought the Indian variant back from the Indian sub-continent and spread it, but people from loads of areas must have been to the Indian sub-continent in the last couple of months.
Bedford’s rate is worse than Blackburn’s. Is it something about places beginning with B?! But the media seem to want to focus on the North West.
Tuesday, May 18th
Fans are back inside Old Trafford tonight, for the Fulham match! Sadly, not me, yet – only 10,000 people – but how great to see anyone there.
The holiday company have cancelled all trips departing up to and including July 15th. But mine is July 18th. So I am still in limbo. I can’t see it going, and I do understand that they can only deal with so many things at once, but they really need to give people more notice.
The whole travel situation is a muddle. A government health minister and the Welsh First Minister are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday even to “green” countries. Boris and Matt Hancock are both saying that no-one should be going on holiday to “amber” countries. And does that invalidate insurance policies? But some people have been told that, as there’s no ban on going to “amber” countries, they won’t get refunds on existing bookings if they cancel. There’s also a feeling that the system’s unfair to people who have to go to work and therefore haven’t got the option of deciding to “take” the 10 day quarantine on return. A straight green/red split would cause arguments with people genuinely needing to travel on business, or who’ve got loved ones abroad. Incidentally, why were so many people travelling to and from the Indian sub-continent in February, March and April? Don’t tell me it was all “essential” travel. In the middle of it all is the poor beleaguered travel industry.
There’s also the issue of people coming here. It’s all being talked about in terms of British tourists jetting off for a fortnight of sun, sand and sea (which is so not me anyway!), but what about all the overseas tourists we’d usually expect in the Lake District, London, York, Bath, Edinburgh etc?
Some universities are continuing with online lectures, and may do so in the autumn term as well. Given what happened in September, it’s probably wise, but I’m so sorry for all the students missing out on a proper university experience.
And we’ve now got the virtue-signallers saying that it’s wrong to criticise people who’ve chosen not to be vaccinated. This comes after Andrew Lloyd Webber said that refusing to be vaccinated was like drink driving.
Wednesday, May 19th
Now that hotels are open, I’ve booked to go to the Lakes for the weekend. However, the weather forecast has now changed, and Sunday looks distinctly wet. Gah!! Needless to say, it looks much better for Monday and Tuesday, which is no help. It’s no wonder people want to go abroad!
The Indian variant’s now been found in a number of other places, in different parts of the country. No mention of it being anywhere else in Greater Manchester yet, but rates are shooting up in several boroughs. And it’s spread from Blackburn to Burnley.
Someone’s got the lovely job of analysing sewage to see where it’s spreading!
The good news is that the vaccines do seem to be effective against it, but we can only vaccinate people so quickly. And trials of booster jabs are to start.
And another royal baby is on the way! Princess Beatrice is expecting in the autumn.
Thursday, May 20th
Infection rates in our borough had been falling for weeks. They were below the national average. Now, suddenly, they’ve doubled in a week. And most cases are in an area which borders the borough of Bolton. No mention of the Indian variant as yet, but it’s in about 80 different areas, including Tameside.
The holiday company, presumably in response to a lot of phone calls and e-mails from frustrated customers like my good self, has issued an “open letter” asking people to bear with them. This is not helpful.
Easyjet are saying that it’s fine for people to go to amber list countries. Boris says it isn’t. Someone’s said they turned up at the airport to board a flight to Spain, only to be turned away because Spain isn’t yet accepting UK tourists. OK, he should have checked, but it was irresponsible of the airline not to warn him. And umpteen flights a day are operating between the UK and India, which is on the red list. This really is silly.
People aged 34 and 35 are now able to book their first jabs. And Prince William’s had his.
I’m having my hair cut and dyed tonight. One of those things you just used to take for granted!
Friday, May 21st
It has rained all day. However, tomorrow should hopefully be better.
Nicola Sturgeon – how that woman does annoy me – has said that people from Scotland shouldn’t go to Bolton, Blackburn or Bedford. And that people from Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford shouldn’t go to Scotland. How exactly does she propose to enforce that?!
Surge vaccinations are being carried out in some areas locally, even though we were being told last week that they wouldn’t be. And surge testing’s being carried out in a number of areas nationwide, not that it seems to help much. The good news is that hospitalisations and deaths aren’t going up.
Saturday, May 22nd
Hooray! I finally got to stay overnight in the Lakes! To stay overnight anywhere, for the first time since October. And it didn’t rain. I went to Coniston this morning, and went on a boat trip there.
Then went to Hawkshead, then Wray Castle.
Then on to Grasmere. It was actually sunny by late afternoon!
Then I watched the Eurovision Song Contest in my room. How sad am I? I wish we’d stop funding it – the voting’s political, no-one votes for us, and yet we pay! Italy won. It’s still a good laugh, though. Hotel Covid protocols still in place.
Cases in Bury are sky-rocketing. From a low level, so nothing horrendous, but it’s a very worrying trend. A lot of it seems to be in schools, again. And Germany has banned British tourists due to the Indian variant.
But how lovely to have a weekend away! The hotel was fully booked – everyone’s desperate for a break.
Sunday, May 23rd
It poured down first thing, but it went off, so I had a walk round Grasmere.
Then it rained again, but wasn’t raining much by the time I went to Allan Bank, which has now reopened.
And then it was dry whilst I was at Bowness and Sizergh Castle, so that wasn’t bad at all, and it was a nice day.
I was expecting to be able to go round the actual castle, now that indoor attractions have reopened, but no. Limited numbers of people are allowed into the grounds and you have to book a time slot, which I’d done, but only limited numbers of those limited numbers are allowed into the houses, time slots to be booked on arrival, and, as it was mid-afternoon when I got there, there were none left. This sort of thing is really, really annoying. OK, it’s not the National Trust’s fault that there’s a pandemic, but I’m not surprised that people are cancelling memberships. Not being able to have a breakfast buffet or even order at the bar in hotels is annoying too.
Got home in time for the second half of United v (at) Wolves. We won 2-1. Nice to end the league season on a high, and we’ve gone through the whole league season unbeaten away. We finish 2nd. Liverpool and Chelsea get the other 2 Champions League spots, Leicester missing out.