Monday, September 7th
Oh, WTF is going on?? Infection rates in our borough were below 25 a week ago. Now they’re at 42. This is just a nightmare. Why can our region not get out of this? Left-wing councillors are claiming that it’s to do with poverty, but, if that were the case, parts of Liverpool, Sheffield and other parts of the north would be affected too, not just us and West Yorkshire. Anyway, one of the worst-affected areas is Hale Barns, Millionaires’ Row! There’s certainly a link between the worst-affected areas and the ethnic make-up of the population, but some predominantly white and black areas are being affected too, not just predominantly Asian areas. And why aren’t the council doing more? I have not heard a peep out of our council leader.
Infection rates are rising everywhere, though. The political points-scorers are blaming the Government, but it’s the same pattern right across Europe. Most of the cases are amongst people in their 20s and early 30s. There’ve been calls in Scotland for pubs to be closed, but it seems that private house parties are an issue as well.
The travel corridor rules have been changed, so that the mainland and islands of the same country can be treated differently. It was thought that this meant that the Canary Islands would be coming off the list, but, instead, some of the Greek islands have gone on it!
Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have totally shown up United, City and England by breaching coronavirus bubble regulations at the England team hotel in Iceland. They’ve been sent home in disgrace. Why can’t players behave?!
EastEnders is back tonight. And, after Novak Djokovic was chucked out of the US Open last night, someone is going to win their first Grand Slam singles title!
And those schools which weren’t already back have gone back today.
I can’t believe how much I’m writing each day. Nearly six months into this nightmare, there’s still just so much to say.
Tuesday, September 8th
I am a historian. I am used to dealing with situations where I know exactly what the outcome will be. I do not like not having a clue what is going to happen next. Tesco have – it being, er, the beginning of September – put the Christmas stuff out. What will happen at Christmas? What will happen next week?
And I certainly don’t like the fact that Bolton, a neighbouring borough, a place I know so well, is the centre of attention because its infection rate is now over 120 per 100,000. Food outlets there are now only allowed to operate as take-aways, and have to close between 10pm and 5am. I don’t disagree with the closing of pubs, although I’m extremely sorry for the owners/managers, but it’s a shame that cafes and restaurants are affected too. And, whilst I’ll hit the roof if these restrictions are extended to neighbouring areas, what’s to stop people from Bolton going to pubs in Bury, Salford, Wigan, Chorley, Blackburn or anywhere else?
The rise in infections is very much being blamed on young people socialising. Political points-scorers are saying that the Government’s lost control, but you cannot defeat nature. Most of western Europe’s a few weeks ahead of us, and infections there are soaring. If there was a way of stopping it, short of another full lockdown, wouldn’t the authorities in France, Spain etc have found it by now? The Netherlands, with a population a quarter the size of ours, had 5,400 new infections today. We had around 2,000.
My trip to France in November, which I booked after Iceland and Japan were cancelled, has been cancelled.
My nephews have had a narrow escape from having to self-isolate. A kid at a football training club they go to has got the virus. Thankfully, they missed the last session because they had something else on, so they aren’t affected.
We now have to have our temperature taken every time we go into the office. This is stupid. I go in, go into an empty room, put away anything I’ve finished with, take anything I need, and leave, I have no contact with anyone else other than saying hello and goodbye (from a distance) to the receptionist. But at least they haven’t said any more about wanting us to go back in full time.
And Ash Barty has pulled out of the French Open.
Wednesday, September 9th
Bleurgh. It was announced late last night (why late at night?) that, with effect from Monday (why not immediately?), social gatherings in England will be limited to 6 people. This is an all areas – why are we under specific restrictions, when areas with higher rates are not? – and in all settings. If you are a mum and dad with three kids, you can only see one grandparent at a time. We’ve been shown graphics showing that we’re now on a curve similar to France and Spain’s, but that Belgium flattened theirs by these sorts of measures, so hopefully it’ll work for us, but it’s pretty crap. Is Christmas effectively cancelled? When will we EVER be allowed back into football grounds?
My little nephew’s birthday party will have to be cancelled. Hardly the end of the world, I know, but it is when you’re a little kid and it was all arranged and you were looking forward to it.
Boris is talking about everyone testing themselves daily, I suppose like some diabetics do to test their insulin levels, but that relies on people being honest, just as all of this relies on people keeping the rules. Young people are whingeing about being blamed, but the statistics show that most of the increase is amongst young people. The police have the power to enforce “the rule of six”, but how can they check everywhere, especially if people are holding house parties?
Everyone is getting rather despondent 😦 .
Thursday, September 10th
The infection rate in our borough is now 69.6. It was in the 20s not a fortnight since. In the city centre, it’s 71.6, and in Salford, 82.3. Obviously this is horrendous, with the national rate only in the low 20s. However, Birmingham is on 77, Sunderland 69, Leeds 61.7, and they are not under additional restrictions. We are being picked on. It’s not on. I wouldn’t mind if the restrictions were doing any bloody good, but they’re not. Bolton’s rate is 160.7. I don’t know what’s going on – are people testing positive being asked for information to try to ascertain where they caught it – but I do know that stopping people from visiting their families and friends is causing a lot of distress and not doing any good.
Scotland has just also introduced the “rule of six”. Northern Ireland has imposed additional restrictions on some areas.
Nationwide, I do wish people would realise that this is not about party politics or culture wars, and that it certainly isn’t about Brexit. It’s a pandemic. The way some people (mostly bitter Remoaners) go on, you’d think the entire thing was the Government’s fault. They’re moaning that the rules keep being changed. Yes, they keep being changed. Because the situation keeps changing. Rules are changing everywhere. Portugal has just reduced the number of people allowed to meet. Israel is facing another full lockdown. Just because you’re bitter than you lost a referendum four years ago, don’t make this political. It isn’t political. It’s a pandemic.
The Portuguese mainland is now back on the quarantine list. Also on it is Hungary. And Reunion and French Polynesia, not that I suppose anyone was intending to go there anyway! However, Sweden is off it. The Swedish situation is fascinating. Sweden didn’t introduce full lockdown – and now has lower infection rates than most countries which did, but without the economic damage.
I am so sick of this. And, with universities about to go back – and I’m sorry for all the people who’ll be missing out on a lot of the fun of university life – it may well be about to get worse. There are also concerns, as there were with Eid, about the possible effects of Rosh Hashanah and Succos.
On a happier note, Rafa has arrived in Rome. The Italian Open starts on Monday. Bring It ON!!!
Friday, September 11th
Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell have been put into local lockdown, on the same level as Oldham. Liverpool’s been added to the watchlist as an “area of enhanced concern”, as has Sheffield. Newcastle, Sunderland, Leeds and some other areas are now “areas of enhanced support”. I think I’ve got all that down right ! The national “R number” is now above 1. Wales has also introduced the “rule of six”, and finally made wearing face masks in shops etc compulsory. Doom merchants on social media are saying that we’ll all be going back into a full local lockdown.
People are moaning that the rules keep changing, but the situation has changed very rapidly in the last few days. Some MPs are saying that restrictions should be reviewed more regularly. And also that rules should have to go through Parliament … which I’d agree with in principle, but, after the nightmare we had when Parliament refused to pass the Brexit bills, just isn’t practical. The virus will not wait around whilst MPs bicker and try to score points off each other.
Four children in Sydney, whose father is tragically dying of cancer in Brisbane, were told by Queensland state officials that only one of them would be able to visit him. The authorities eventually said that they could all go, but only if they went to a quarantine hotel, costing around £9,000. Kind-hearted well-wishers have raised the money, and a lot more, but FFS.
I went to the office to collect some stuff today. Ah, the great new temperature-taking system. “Hold it an inch from your face.” So I did. It came out at 35.2! This was clearly crap, especially as my home thermometer had just said 37. I tried holding it closer, and it said 36.6, which made a bit more sense. But they’ve been writing everyone’s temperature down as 35.something.
Finally got my refund from the gym.
And Vika has knocked Serena out of the US Open.
Saturday, September 12th
Not two weeks since, I was writing that the infection rate in our borough was falling. It’s now hurtling rapidly towards 100 – worse than Oldham, Rochdale or the city centre. WTF is going on in this borough? But rates are rising in most places, or at least in most urban areas in the North and Midlands. We’re actually ahead, not behind. And, frighteningly, we are now seeing a small increase in hospital admissions, and, sadly, deaths.
To some extent, this was inevitable once things opened up again. Most people are doing their best, but there are reports of crowding on rush hour public transport. But a lot of it is because of idiots ignoring the rules. The police broke up a wedding reception for 100 guests in Bolton. And a party attended by 300 people in Bishop’s Stortford.
As the Chief Constable of the West Midlands police has said, there is, with the best will in the world, not that much that the police can do. In Birmingham and the surrounding areas, there are over 4 million people subject to the new restrictions. How can the police keep an eye on over 4 million people? During the Blitz, there were local ARP wardens, but society’s changed, and no-one now would break up a party because Joe Bloggs from round the corner told them to.
I’m afraid that our borough is heading for tighter restrictions. It’ll be a devastating blow to cafes etc which are only just getting back on their feet. And, when so many people are depriving themselves of contact with even close relatives and friends, it’s so frustrating that a minority of idiots are causing everyone else to suffer.
There are problems with the testing system, too. Home tests are running short, the website is telling people that there are no slots available, and there are long queues at walk-in centres.
At least we haven’t lost our sense of humour. The internet is full of memes about the Secret Seven, the Seven Dwarves and even Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper being ticked off by the police for gathering in groups of more than six.
I had my hair cut this morning, and went to Clifton Country Park this afternoon.
And, in between, I went to Old Trafford! Only to the shop. I wanted something for my younger nephew’s forthcoming birthday. His party’s had to be cancelled, and he’s sad about it 😦 . OK, I could have ordered something online, and had it delivered to my sister to save having to post it, but I hadn’t been to the ground for over 6 months. You can’t even walk right round: part of it’s cordoned off. But still. Our first match is the season is next week – we and City both got an extra week due to being involved in the European events – but the new Premier League season has begun today.
Sunday, September 13th
This has been such a lovely day that, at times, I’ve almost forgotten this nightmare that we’re all caught up in. By my calendar, summer ends when the US Open ends, so that’ll probably be early tomorrow morning our time. Come on, Dominic! I hope this foot problem he had in the semi’s nothing serious. Good final between Naomi and Vika last night. Sad for Vika to lose from a set and a break up, and it would have been such an amazing story if she’d won, but well done to Naomi.
I’d booked Bodnant Garden for today, and I struck lucky, with gorgeous weather. I had such a nice time … apart from a few issues with the rather poorly-signposted one-way system put in place due to the virus! The gardens were looking superb, which a lot of gardens don’t in September, and then I went on to Llanwrst, and then stopped at Colwyn Bay for a walk along the beach and an ice cream. Such a glorious day!
Infection rates in Bury, Manchester, Salford and Rochdale all fell yesterday. It’s only one day, but … could it mean something hopeful?
The demographics are hard to make sense of. Left wing councillors and newspapers are claiming that it’s all to do with poverty, but Stockport’s seen an increase in cases due to a small spike in the affluent areas of Cheadle and Gatley. In Trafford, there’ve been issues in the very wealthy area of Hale Barns. In Birmingham, there’ve been a lot of cases in the very wealthy area of Edgbaston. A few weeks ago, the majority of cases were in people with South Asian heritage. Now, they’re in white people. The only consistent factor is that most cases are now in young people.
I think we need more hard-hitting … adverts is the wrong word, but publicity, whatever. All this “Remember, hands, face, mask,” stuff sounds like someone telling a 3-year-old to remember to wash their hands after they’ve been to the toilet. It’s not strong enough. France is now recording over 10,000 cases a day, and seeing a worrying upturn in deaths. We do not want to go the same way.
Israel’s going into full lockdown for three weeks, over Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos. It’s the first western country to go back into full lockdown.
Oh, what a week! I’m looking out at the most beautiful sunset, and getting excited about what should be a cracking US Open and will see someone win their first Grand Slam title … and the region, the country and the world are in chaos.