Tier 3 Plus, Week 4 … well, half a week – December 28th to 30th 2020 inclusive

Monday, December 28th (Bank Holiday, as Boxing Day fell on a Saturday)

City’s match tonight’s been called off, after a number of their players tested positive.  That’s a worrying development.

On top of everything else, there’s been heavy snow in some areas, although, thankfully, not here.

Rates here continue to rise, with the average across Greater Manchester now (as of yesterday) just under 200.  That’s obviously very worrying, but, having been at or near the top of the infection rate charts for months, the situation here at the moment is (touch wood!) not that bad compared to that in other areas.  The rate in Brentwood is now 1,442, with some other parts of Essex and parts of London not far behind.

We’re being told that the big increase in cases in Trafford and Stockport is due not to the mutant virus but to “increased social mixing”.  Probably in pubs and restaurants in Cheshire East, before it was moved into Tier 3!

The situation in neighbouring areas is worsening.  Both Cheshire districts are now well over 200, Warrington’s 298, and Liverpool’s 200.  To the north, Pendle’s on 427 and Burnley’s on 488.  And the worst rate in the North is now in, of all places, Eden (Penrith and Ullswater).  496.  South Lakeland’s not nearly as bad, but even they’re up to 188.

On a happier note, it’s hoped that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be ready to go soon.  It doesn’t have to be stored at -80 degrees C, so should be a lot easier to administer quickly.

Despite all the goings-on, I’ve had a nice day: I managed to get a reduced rate spa day at the Norton Grange in Rochdale.  They’d tried really hard to keep things Covid-secure, although, unfortunately, some idiots were completely ignoring the signs about how many people should be in each area at once.  I had great intentions about going in the gym, and I did go in briefly, but I spent most of my time in the pool and the jacuzzi, and then had a facial and a back massage.  Really nice takeaway afternoon tea!  I am so fat …

 

Tuesday, December 29th

I was a bit stressed when I looked out this morning and it was snowing: the road up to our estate is a nightmare in the snow, and I had to get to Tesco and M&S!  However, it wasn’t too bad here, and it wasn’t sticking on the roads.  But at Tatton Park, where I’d planned to go anyway, there was loads and loads of snow!  The roads were OK, although the car park was a bit tricky (considering that they charge people to park there, they really should have cleared it), and it was all really good fun, with people throwing snowballs and building snowmen, and a few kids on sledges.

I suppose it was kind of breaking bounds, seeing as it’s in Cheshire East rather than Greater Manchester, but I’d still class it as local, and we’re all in Tier 3 now anyway.  This whole tier system is so bonkers.  Parts of Wigan are classed as West Lancashire, and parts of Rochdale are classed as Rossendale.  West Lancashire and Rossendale, despite not having particularly high infection rates (by current standards), may be moved into Tier 4 at the end of the week, because of the issues in Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn.  Or the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs may be moved too.  Or the whole country may be moved.   I can’t see the Lake District staying in Tier 2, the way things are going.  There are issues in parts of Merseyside and North Yorkshire too.  Oh, how I miss the Lakes!  Not that I ever go there in December anyway, but I hate the feeling that I haven’t even got the option.  Although some people are merrily heading off all over the place, even staying overnight.  A tiny minority of people, admittedly, but some.

It’s weird – we’ve been in the eye of the storm for so long, and now we’re not.  At the beginning, I was looking at everything on a national level, but, thanks to government policy, I’ve been looking at it from a local level since the end of July.  But the national picture is horrendous.  Over 53,000 new infections today – compared to around 13,000 per day a month ago, although more people are being tested now.  Some hospitals in Wales and South East England are struggling to cope.  I don’t know what’s going on with the Nightingale Hospitals – are they not being used because there aren’t enough people to staff them?

Indian Wells, one of my favourite tournaments of the year, won’t take place in March, because the situation in California is so bad 😦 .

The first person to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine got her second dose today.   Any hope that we could live with the virus has gone now.  We’ve just got to get people vaccinated.

We beat Wolves 1-0 – injury time goal from Rashford.  Yay!!  A lot of lower league matches were off, though – some due to the weather, but some due to positive virus tests.  Not sure if our Carabao Cup semi’ll be going ahead, because of the situation with City.

 

Wednesday, December 30th

Oh shit, double shit and treble shit.  Hancock has shoved us into Tier 4.  I did not see that coming – it was expected that parts of East Lancashire, Hartlepool and maybe Birmingham would move, but he’s dumped a whole load of additional areas too.  Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Warrington and Cheshire.  Cumbria, going straight from Tier 2 to Tier 4.  Leics, Lincs, Derbys, Notts, Northants, the entire West Midlands/Warks/ Staffs/Black Country area, the entire North East, Gloucs, Swindon, most of Somerset, parts of Dorset, the Isle of Wight and the New Forest.  Merseyside moves into Tier 3, but not Tier 4 even though its infection rates are similar to ours.  South, West and East Yorks stay in Tier 3, but North Yorks moves from Tier 2 to Tier 3, as do Rutland, Shropshire, the rest of Somerset, the rest of Dorset, the rest of Wiltshire, Herefordshire and Worcs.

Shit shit shit.  Our rates aren’t even that high.  Dunham lights is off.  Hairdressers close.  Yes, I know I sound whiney and self-obsessed, but there’s no way they’d shut down the South like this if rates were high in the North.

The nationwide picture is awful, though.  Over 50,000 new infections again.  And 981 deaths – although that probably includes deaths from over the Christmas period, recorded late.

Despite, all this, schools are to stay open, although secondary schools will return later than planned, and primary schools will close in “a small number of areas”.  “A small number of areas” has turned out to be most of London, and parts of Essex, Kent and Herts.   This includes my younger nephew’s primary school.  His comment was that he was glad he’d be getting a break from school dinners.

Amid all this bad news, some good news – the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine’s been licensed for use in the UK.  As it only has to be stored at normal fridge temperature, this will hopefully speed up the vaccination programme quite a bit.

Been for a walk round Hollingworth Lake.  In the slush and fog.

I’m pleased to say that The Olive and Pickle was so busy that it’d had to send out for extra supplies.  As I can’t be bothered getting into an argument, I’m ignoring a couple of very rude people who said on one of my Facebook posts that people shouldn’t be going for takeaways – which is about the only thing people’ve got left to do, and which is keeping eating places in business and protecting jobs – because it generates waste.  Some people are so bloody sanctimonious and irritating.  And it’s always the people whose finances aren’t affected!!  Gah.

Oh poo.  We really didn’t expect this.  Nor did most of the other areas affected.  What a nightmare.

Fulham v Spurs off due to a virus outbreak at Fulham.

 

Second Wave Week 8 – October 19th to 25th 2020 inclusive

 

Monday, October 19th

It’s strange being down here with all this going on at home.   It’s like another world down here.  There are just so few people about.   Apart from Bristol, there are no big cities.  Even Bath, where I went today, is pretty small compared to towns like Bury and Rochdale.  No wonder infection rates are so much lower here.  I went to the Pump Room and the Roman Baths – both pre-booked due to virus issues.  The Assembly Rooms were sadly closed, again due to virus issues!  There seem to be quite a few overseas tourists around, strangely, but nothing like as many as usual: there’d usually be coachloads of people, especially Americans, in the area, to see Stonehenge, the Magna Carta and Jane Austen’s Bath.

Still no definite decision on Greater Manchester.  No-one seems to know what the hell is going on.  When all the details of the financial wrangling emerged, it turned out that, having asked for £95m – perfectly reasonably, given that Merseyside, with half the population of Greater Manchester, got £45m – we were only offered £60m.  We then asked for £65m, but they wouldn’t even agree to that.  It is impossible for me to be objective about this.  This is MY city.  This is MY region.  (And I’ve had a bit of a crush on Andy Burnham for years, although that’s rather beside the point!)  But the financial “support” on offer is a joke.  How are people meant to manage on 2/3 of their wages?  And local lockdowns do not bloody work.  We should know.  We’ve been in one for three bloody months,

Meanwhile, Wales is going into full lockdown for three weeks, from 6pm on Friday.  And the Republic of Ireland is going into full lockdown for SIX weeks, from Wednesday.  And Northern Ireland is now in lockdown.

 

Tuesday, October 20th

I cannot believe what has gone on today.  The upshot is that we’re being forced into Tier 3 from Friday – and with only around £20m on offer, although it looks as if we will get the £60m mentioned beforehand.  But … the national government, which is supposed to represent us, has treated us like some sort of enemy.  A high noon ultimatum was offered.  What is this, 1939?  People were gathering in town.  I don’t know what they were expecting to happen, but that’s how big it was.  And that idiot Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, was saying that, if Andy Burnham wouldn’t agree to do what he said, he’d “report” him to the Prime Minister.  Who does he think he is, the school sneak?

Then Andy Burnham, speaking in town, found out from a message on a phone shown to him by an aide about what was happening.  Boris held a press conference at 5, and said that Tier 3 restrictions were being imposed on us.  Like we’re a colony.  £5m.  It’s a drop in the ocean in terms of government spending.

I am so angry that we are being treated like this.  I really did have faith in Boris Johnson’s government.  Hah!  And I am so worried about the state of the local economy.  And I HATE the idea of travel restrictions, even if technically they are only “guidance”.  Pubs are not important to me personally, but travel is.  Now I’ll be going against “guidance” if I go to the Lakes. Or even to Blackpool, to see the Illuminations, even though that’s in Tier 3 too.  So it’s OK to go from, say, Standish to Altrincham, which is over 25 miles, because that’s not leaving Greater Manchester, but not to walk from Standish to Chorley or Wigan to St Helens, even though they’re all in Tier 3.

I am so angry.

Meanwhile, I’ve been to Stonehenge, and to a lovely National Trust property called Stourhead.  I’ve never been to Stonehenge before.  And United have beaten Paris St Germain!

I suppose that I’ll technically be breaking rules if I stay away overnight on Friday and Saturday now, but it’s hard bloody luck.  I’ve paid for the hotel for the week.

 

Wednesday, October 21st

South Yorkshire – Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster – is to move into Tier 3.  No news yet on Nottingham, the North East or West Yorkshire.

Anti-government graffiti is appearing around Manchester and Liverpool.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called another MP “scum” in the House of Commons today, in a row over Tier 3 restrictions.  OK, she was bang out of order to use language like that, but feelings are running very high.

Gyms are to reopen in Merseyside.  More chopping and changing.

Rather wet today, but I had a nice day anyway – I went to Cleeve Abbey, which I wanted to see because of its links to Elsie J Oxenham’s “Abbey” books, and to Dunster Castle.

 

Thursday, October 22nd

I went to Salisbury today – Old Sarum in the afternoon but, first, the cathedral, where I saw one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta.  I wore a Manchester bee face mask for the occasion.  The Magna Carta’s in a little tent to protect it from the light etc, and you go in on your own: it’s quite a spiritual experience.

It doesn’t cover pandemics.

Then I went to Cheddar.  Not to the caves, though – they’ve closed down because of the pandemic.

Slough, Coventry and Stoke are moving into Tier 2.

Parliament has rejected Marcus Rashford’s proposal to provide meal vouchers during school holidays for kids who get free school meals.  It’d only have cost £20m, which isn’t a lot in terms of public spending.  People are furious about it.  There’s very strong support for it, and social media is now full of remarks about how the government doesn’t care about hungry kids.  It’s not good.

 

Friday, October 24th

Greater Manchester is now in Tier 3.  And Warrington is to move into Tier 3.  People there are being asked not to leave the borough, which is ridiculous.

“SOS” has been beamed on to the side of Blackpool Tower.  Loads of half-term bookings have been cancelled, and the Illuminations going on until January isn’t going to be much help now that there’s “guidance” against people going there.  The Lake District’s also seen a lot of cancellations – and businesses there won’t get any help at all, because the Lake District itself is in Tier 1.  It’s just a nightmare.

I’ve been to Wells today, and then to Nunney.

 

Saturday, October 25th

Went to Glastonbury today.  I climbed Glastonbury Tor!  Then went to the Chalice Well.  Then to the Abbey.  I drank a bit of the Chalice Well water, supposedly springing from where the Holy Grail’s buried.  And I saw where King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were supposedly buried.  Now would be a very good time for King Arthur to come back and save us all!  Then I went to Farleigh Hungerford Castle.

The number of councils and businesses offering vouchers or free meals to children is soaring.  One of the papers called it “the Duncook Spirit”.  Hopefully it’ll genuinely help some of those in need.

It’s making the government look very bad indeed.

Infections are continuing to rise.  Here and all over Europe.  We’re not hearing much about what’s happening elsewhere, and it’s not as easy as you’d think to find information online .

Home tomorrow.

 

Sunday, October 25th

I’m home!  Via Witley Court and Stourport-on-Severn.  Done the washing.  Not done the ironing.

The motorway was certainly quieter than usual.  But infection rates keep rising, especially in Oldham and Rochdale.  There are rumours that a “Tier 4” could be introduced, which could include shutting restaurants and “non-essential” shops.  Whatever a “non-essential” shop is – there is a row going on over this in Wales at the moment.  Apart from Wales, the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic, nowhere else seems to be going that far.

So fed up.

Marcus Rashford has repeatedly said that he wants everyone to work together and is not trying to score political points, but tell that to all the vile people twisting his kindness and humanity into abusing the government for their own ends.  So sick of all the nastiness – but so heartened by all the good-hearted people offering free meals for children as a response to Marcus’s campaign.  We’re sticking together.  Street food traders and sandwich delivery businesses are partnering with pubs, to enable them to serve meals and therefore be allowed to remain open.  But anger at Westminster is growing.

And so I’m home.  In Tier 3.

 

 

 

 

The Harrying of the North, or The Two Nations

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in the crazy situation of having my home city, my home region, involved in a stand-off with the national government which is supposed to represent us.  Last Tuesday, we were given a high noon deadline to agree to what the government said or have Tier 3 restrictions imposed on us without local leaders’ agreement – the latter being what eventually happened.  One the one hand, it sounded like something from 1914 or 1939 – here is an ultimatum.  Crowds were gathering in town, waiting to see what would happen.  On the other hand, we had Robert Jenrick saying that, if Andy Burnham wouldn’t do what he said, he was going to report him to the Prime Minister, sounding rather more like the school sneak than a member of the Cabinet.  It was so farcical that it would have been funny had it not been so serious.

None of this was political.  MPs and council leaders from both main parties stood side by side on this.  That seemed to be what threw the government – the City United response, and the strength of it.  It wasn’t about point-scoring.  It was about the need for fairness.  I’m sure we all accept that this is an extremely difficult situation, and that it’s one which no-one really knows how to deal with.  It’s no-one’s fault that infection rates are rising.  It’s happening right across Europe and beyond, regardless of the different policies adopted by different authorities.  It’s no use blaming the track and trace system, the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the behaviour of different demographic groups, or anything else – and it’s certainly no use blaming people in densely-populated areas where infection rates are inevitably higher than those in sparsely-populated areas.  It’s just the way pandemics go.  There are always second waves.  This is where we are, and we need to try to deal with it.  We all want to get infection rates down.  But the methods being used are not working for the North of England.

There were two main issues involved in the “stand-off”.  One was the fact that local lockdowns just don’t seem to work.  We should know.  We’ve been under additional restrictions since the end of July.  The first lot were announced, with no warning, on Twitter, at around half 9 on a Thursday night, to come into force at midnight.  Parents due to be at work the next morning were told that they’d now be breaking the law if they left their children with relatives or friends.  We’ve had one set of rules after another – this lot for Bolton, that lot for Oldham, the other lot for Wigan.  None of them have done any good.   And then different rules were introduced for other parts of the North, causing more and more confusion.  The North East had three different sets of rules in ten days!  And leaders there were only informed of one of the changes five minutes before the details were released to the press.

And infection rates have just kept going up anyway.

The other main issue was the financial support, or lack of, on offer.  £60 million for Greater Manchester.  Merseyside, with half the number of people, was offered £45 million.  I’m not a mathematician, but it’s not difficult to see that that doesn’t work.  And we only asked for £65 million.  In terms of public spending, it’s a drop in the ocean.  How many billions are being put into HS2, which not one person in a thousand actually wants?  I’m sure we all appreciate that the state hasn’t got a bottomless purse, and can’t borrow ad infinitum, but how are people in businesses being forced to close supposed to manage indefinitely on two-thirds of their income, which is all they’re going to get?

And that’s just for people in businesses which are having to close.  What about taxi drivers?  What about all the people running B&Bs and guesthouses in Blackpool, who’ve had all their half-term bookings cancelled?  An SOS was beamed on to the side of Blackpool Tower last week.  That’s how bad it is.  What about all the other businesses suffering as people have to tighten their belts?  Not to mention all the nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, lower league football clubs … the list goes on and on.  We know that the government can’t pay for everything.  But it can pay for a lot more than it is doing.

We’ve had three months of being told that we can’t meet our families and friends in any indoor setting, or even in private gardens.  Now, we’re only supposed to meet up in parks.  Or beaches.  Or forests.  Well, obviously there are miles and miles of beaches and forests in Manchester!   It’s horrible for everyone.  But it’s particularly worrying for those whose livelihoods are at stake.  Communities are pulling together, which is something: sandwich delivery businesses and street food traders are partnering with pubs, to enable them to provide food and so be able to remain open.  Pubs are offering beans on toast, chip butties, anything.  A small number of people find that irresponsible, but most people seem to be backing them, knowing that they’re just trying to stay afloat.

And, across the country, people have rallied behind Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty.   It’s crazy, isn’t it?  Our 22-year-old striker, young Marcus who’s been at United since he was a schoolboy, seems to be the only person providing any sort of national leadership.  I started keeping a pandemic blog so that I’d have a record for myself that wasn’t in my illegible handwriting.  I never thought that I’d still be keeping it at the end of October, and I certainly never thought that Greater Manchester would become the centre of it all and that one of our players would be the one piling pressure on the government to do more to help those in need.

That’s a national thing, though,  But the Tier 3 restrictions aren’t.  So far, they affect much of the North West, and South Yorkshire, and, shortly, they’ll also affect parts of Nottinghamshire.   It’s possible that West Yorkshire and the North East may follow.  Yes, I know that we’re the areas with the highest infection rates.  But we haven’t bloody well done that on purpose, the areas affected include many communities which are already amongst the most deprived in the country, and we deserve to be treated better than this.  Back in the spring, there really was a “Spirit of the Blitz” feeling, epitomised by that wonderful “We’ll Meet Again” speech given by our beloved Queen.  That’s gone now.  Any sense that we’re all in this together has gone.  And the national government issuing an ultimatum to Greater Manchester, as if it were about to declare war … what is going on here?   We’re supposed to be fighting the virus, not each other.

In the words of the Conservative leader of Bolton council, “What a clusterfuck”.

No-one knows what the answer to this nightmare is.  But making people in the North feel that they’re being treated like second class citizens certainly isn’t it.  Ironically, this has united Manchester and Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland, Lancashire and Yorkshire …. that takes some doing.  But it’s united us all in feeling that we’re getting a raw deal.  And it’s not on.  Stop treating the North like this.

 

 

 

Second Wave Week 7 – October 12th to 18th 2020 inclusive

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 …. ?