Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.
The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).
Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?
It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.
Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.
From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.
But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.
In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.
In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.
All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.
There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.
Is your head spinning yet?
Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.
Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.
It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.
On Monday, 4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.
This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.
Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.
What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.
Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.
Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.
My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.
You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.
So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.
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