Rowing back … a nightmare couple of days

  At around half 9 on Thursday night, it was announced that all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, plus many parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, were being subjected to new restrictions.  From midnight.  We can no longer visit/be visited by anyone outside our support bubbles in our own homes, or even our gardens.   Unless people are working, so the alarm service man can still come on Monday.   We cannot meet anyone outside our households/support bubbles in a café, pub or restaurant, unless it’s outdoors.  This even applies if you’re visiting people outside the area.

2 1/2 hours’ notice.  My cousin had her niece staying over, so officially she broke the law – she should have dragged the kid out of bed and taken her home.  A lot of people rely on grandparents for childcare during the school holidays – what were they meant to do on Friday?

I accept that the data showing an increase in the number of cases only came in at the last minute, and that the authorities panicked because they knew that large numbers of people were planning to meet up for Eid al Adha celebrations on Friday.  But it was still chaotic.

I have backed the Government until now, but I am fuming about this.  I am fuming because the rate of infections in my borough is only 16 per 100,000.  That is far lower than in most other parts of the country.  In a neighbouring borough, the rate is only 4 per 100,000.  That is one of the lowest rates in the entire country.  But we have all been lumped in with Blackburn, where the rate is nearly 90 per 100,000 – after 250 people attended a funeral at a mosque, the legal limit for religious services being 30, where someone had the virus and passed it round – and Oldham and Rochdale where it’s also over the “danger level” of 50 per 100,000.  Would restrictions have been imposed on large swathes of Surrey and Hertfordshire if there was a spike in part of London?  I don’t think so.  People are not happy.

However, most of the anger is, quite rightly, directed at people who are not obeying the rules, and making the rest of us suffer.  I went into a café where there were around 20 people in the queue, and hardly anyone else was wearing a mask.  At another take-away food place, the guy serving actually told me that I didn’t need to wear a mask, because it wasn’t like being in a supermarket!  And, despite the new rules, there were large numbers of big Eid celebrations in private homes last night and today.  In one local street, someone called the police because the noise was still going on at half 2 in the morning.  The police did absolutely nothing.

I haven’t seen my sister, brother-in-law and nephews since February.  I was supposed to see them next week.  Now, that’s off, unless either they or I make a 400 mile round trip to sit in a park.  I’m also panicking about my desperately-needed staycation in a fortnight’s time: as things stand, I can still go, as long as I don’t go into anyone else’s house (which I won’t – I’m staying at a hotel), but, instead of looking forward to it, I’m now panicking.  I haven’t had a break since December.  I haven’t had a day off work all year other than Bank Holidays.  I can’t go on much longer without getting away.

And the proposed changes for today have been cancelled nationwide.  Casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks now cannot open.  Hopes of getting fans back into sports events are on hold.  And, devastatingly for couples involved, receptions at weddings/civil partnerships now cannot take place.

I know that it isn’t just here.  I know that there’ve been spikes in a lot of places.  But I am so annoyed that my area, where the rate of infection is not high, has been lumped in with neighbouring areas.  And, most of all, I am annoyed with the people who go around breaking the rules with no thought for anyone else.  The people who hold huge gatherings of family and friends in their homes.  The people who attend illegal raves.  The gangs of young people who think they’re immune.  The people who refuse to wear masks in shops.  The people who won’t even move into single file on narrow pavements or paths in the park, to let others pass them safely.  None of us are perfect, but some people are just making no effort at all.  And community tensions are rising as a result, which is another thing.

I feel much better today than I did yesterday – the announcement on Thursday night was such a shock – but I’m still stressed.   Why can’t people do as they’re bloody well told?  For everyone else’s sake?