Monday, March 22nd
We recorded our lowest daily virus death toll since September today – 17. OK, figures are always lower on Mondays, but, considering that we were recording over 1,000 a day at one point, that’s major progress. However, the accursed EU is again threatening to block vaccine exports. It’s like when some horrible kid in the school playground grabs the football or the skipping rope and says that no-one’s allowed to play with it because they’re upset … except that people’s lives are at stake here.
I have no idea what we are and aren’t supposed to do next week. Some newspapers are saying that you’re still not supposed to leave your local area, but the official advice just says not to make too many journeys, and to avoid using public transport at rush hour unless necessary – like anyone would use public transport at rush hour unless they absolutely had to. Places like Capesthorne Hall are reopening, and presumably they don’t expect that visitors will only come from round the corner. I don’t see that I’ll be causing anyone a problem if I go to, say, Biddulph Grange. But it’s as clear as mud.
And, after a grumpy woman from Public Health England said yesterday that mask-wearing and social distancing might be in force for years, a grumpy health minister’s said today that all European countries (presumably excluding the Republic of Ireland) might have to be “red-listed”. I don’t want to be lied to and given false hope, but do these people have to be so miserable?! Is it necessary to speculate like this? Bah!
Tuesday, March 23rd – A YEAR OF LOCKDOWN
A year ago today, we went into lockdown. We thought it’d be for 12 weeks. We were told that 40,000 deaths would be a “good outcome” – it seemed like an impossibly high, dystopian number.
Today’s supposed to be a “National Day of Reflection”. There was a minute’s silence at midday, and we’re supposed to go out on our doorsteps with candles at 8pm.
Boris is insisting that everyone’ll have been offered a first dose by the end of July, but no news on exactly when for over 40s.
Infection rates in our borough are going up quite rapidly, again 😦 . It goes in waves – we’ve had a few good weeks, but Rochdale had a few bad weeks, and Tameside before Rochdale … it comes and goes. But hospitalisations and deaths are down here and everywhere else, and deaths from all causes are actually below the 5 year average for the time of year.
A £5,000 fine for going abroad without good reason’s to be introduced, and there’s talk of that continuing until July rather than May.
Germany’s imposing tight restrictions again, with even food shops only allowed to open for 1 day in 5 over the Easter weekend.
Windermere Lake Cruises are reopening next week! Hooray! We’re supposed to “stay local as much as possible” even after the stay at home order’s lifted, but enough’s enough – I stay very local 5 days a week, and it’s not like I’ll be going to mass gatherings. I think their prices were pretty much as before, but I’ve noticed that some places hoping to reopen later in the year have hiked their prices right up. I understand that they need to try to make up for their losses, but it’s going to put people off going.
And it sounds as if a permanent memorial to people who’ve died of Covid will be built, at some point.
Wednesday, March 24th
The EU’s threatening a vaccine blockade, India’s got a “double mutant” virus, and concerns are rising over the high number of cases in France. There’ve been calls for France to be “red-listed”, but, given that most cross-Channel haulage comes via France, that’s going to be a bit of a problem, to say the least. We can hardly move the Channel Tunnel so the other end of it’s in Belgium or the Netherlands! Oh, what a nightmare all this is.
Spain and Greece and various other countries are now letting flights from the UK in again, so at least there’s no problem with the next round of Champions League and Europa League matches, but we aren’t allowed out!
Windermere Lake Cruises have had to postpone their reopening by two days, because of the weather forecast. FFS! And Germany’s Easter lockdown’s been cancelled, one day after it was announced.
Zara Phillips has had a baby boy. So there’s some good news!
Thursday, March 25th
I had a really bad morning with work today, and then I went to the park, had a cup of tea and a hot cross bun by a host of golden daffodils, and felt so much better. I really would be happy to carry on WFH indefinitely.
However … some sort of deal’s been agreed with the EU over vaccines, but India’s now said that it won’t be exporting any vaccines until the end of April, because it needs/wants them for itself. We’ve pretty much been told that, from 29th March, it’s second doses only, so I don’t know where that leaves me, and, with all this talk of vaccine passports, it’s pretty frustrating.
Also, both Poland and Belgium have tightened their restrictions, as the “third wave” gathers pace.
The emergency powers Coronavirus Act’s been extended for another six months. I hate the fact that these powers exist – not even the likes of William the Conqueror or Oliver Cromwell tried to stop people from leaving their local areas, visiting their friends and relatives or having their hair cut – but there really is no alternative. If the horrible virus mutates again, we just can’t wait whilst Parliament messes about arguing about things. But who, 15 months ago, would have thought that we’d come to this?
Friday, March 26th
I don’t think anyone’s taking too much notice of the “stay local as much as possible” guidance. We’ve been banned from leaving the area for over 5 months, and the official ban ends on Monday. Enough. The National Trust site has been mad today, because the bookings site couldn’t cope with the number of people trying to get on. I had a feeling this would happen, so I stayed up till midnight and got my tickets for Easter weekend as soon as they became available. Oh, for a return to the days of just turning up!
That idiot Macron is still trying to blame us for the fact that the EU’s messed up its vaccination rollout. Whilst he’s trying to divert the blame, the infection rate in Paris is sky-rocketing – it’s over 600. Germany has now declared France a high-risk country.
Shops here are to be allowed to stay open until 10pm 6 days a week, when non-essential retail reopens. I’m not sure who wants to go shopping at 10pm, but whatever.
Saturday, March 27th
Hopefully, this will be the last weekend of lockdown. I need to get out into the countryside.
Mum and Dad had their second jabs today, so they’re all done … although there’s now talk of over 70s having a booster jab in the autumn. Another fortysomething friend had hers today, but she must also have been lucky and got an appointment before this thing of over 50s only from March 29th came in.
I was meant to be in Grasmere this weekend. Instead, I went to Hollingworth Lake – which was actually very nice, with lots of daffodils out.
Several local cafes and restaurants have applied for permission to set up outdoor chairs and tables. Let’s just hope we get some decent weather! Boris has said that, as things are, we should be able to stick to the “roadmap”. Locally, infection rates are dropping again, a bit, although I doubt they’ll drop much until younger people have been vaccinated, and may well rise as things open up. But deaths and hospitalisations are dropping. The big worry, other than the slowdown in vaccine supply, is the situation in France. Spain’s joined Germany in tightening restrictions on people entering from France, and it’s a worry with all the cross-Channel haulage traffic.
On a different note, United Women played at Old Trafford for the first time today. And won, beating West Ham 2-0.
Sunday, March 28th
Let’s hope that this is the last ever day of lockdown. And a bloody rotten one it’s been too – heavy rain and strong winds for part of the day. It did, to be fair, ease up for a while, so I was able to go for a walk in the park – where the vintage trams were having a run out.
And we won our World Cup qualifier against Albania, following up our win against San Marino.
And it’s hoped that a shipment of the Moderna vaccine will arrive by mid-April.
So, OK, it hasn’t all been bad. But everyone is so fed up. We in Greater Manchester have pretty much been in some form of lockdown since the middle of October. Whilst I was angry about the whole tier thing, I understand that the nationwide Lockdown III was unavoidable, but … this while thing, not even being allowed to see your own family and friends, is something that not even the most extreme of dystopian novelists would have written about 15 months ago.
New rule to try to help keep the “third wave” out – lorry drivers, cabin crew, prison escorts and seasonal workers entering England from outside the UK will need to take a Covid-19 test within 48 hours of arrival, and those remaining in the UK for longer than two days will be required to take a further test every three days.
Well, on we go – setting off on the “roadmap to freedom”. Fingers crossed …