Boris is twisting my melons man

Coronavirus is very clever. Its like a vampire, it comes out at night to strike. According to our Prime Minister Boris Johnson come 10pm at night we all have to leave the pub, restaurant or takeaway and head home before Covid attacks us. Fear not though, you can come back out again at 5am as if just like a vampire when the sun rises Covid disappears into the shadows again.

You really couldn’t make it up could you? The government that swept into power in December 2019 winning in towns and cities that had never voted Conservative before have now conducted that many u turns we all have twisted blood.

Remember when we were told to stay 2m apart only then for us to be told stay 1m plus/ish/maybe apart just after thousands of businesses had placed stickers everywhere telling us to stay 2m apart? If your telling millions of people what to do, at least be clear in what you are telling them. Stick to 2m don’t start splitting hairs over a few centimetres.

Back to the virus for one moment. Its such a clever thing that it works differently in different countries within the Union. The minute it travels into Gretna it takes on a different form and therefore you need different rules to tackle it. The same for Wales and once over the Irish Sea and into Northern Ireland. Maybe just maybe that’s what you get with devolution and each government has to be seen to justify their own existence and flex their political muscles rather than come together as one voice.

In August “Dishy Rishi” Sunak the man in charge of the purse strings told us all to “Eat out to help out” and he paid for half the tab which was awfully nice of him. Millions returned to splash the cash, fill their faces and confidence increased within the population that you could socialise without Coronavirus spoiling your meal out.

Then in September the rug was pulled from under businesses and the population when the moto became “Drink up and piss off by 10pm” because Boris realised the virus was a vampire and came out to kill after dark. I wonder if Boris had thought it through though (we all know that answer). Come 10pm in towns and cities people flood out onto the streets and all fight for transport home. So the streets are full of people getting into taxis or flooding the train station platforms. Do you reckon social distancing was adhered to?

During lockdown there was a community spirit flowing through suburbia with people being neighbourly shopping for their elderly neighbours or looking out for each other through the pandemic. Every Thursday evening people went out onto their doorsteps to “Clap for carers”. Once the clapping was finished people would chat to their neighbours, people who they didn’t even recognise previously if they bumped into each other in the shops. Remember the VE Day celebrations with street parties and barbeques? Then come September we were told forget that and now you need to “Snitch on your neighbour” by reporting them to the already overstretched police service for having friends round for a beer and a chat.

Schools opened their doors in September and your child was allowed to sit with 29 other children in a hot, sweaty classroom for hours on end but those same kids couldn’t play out in the open air in a park with just 6 of their mates. Figure that one out!

Schools are like petri dishes they are breading grounds for bugs, colds and head lice. I’ve never understood why teachers hate opening the windows to allow fresh air into the building? My memories of picking my children up from primary school are of condensation dripping down the windows, kids coming out with cheeks as red as Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge not to mention the sweaty bodies. You would say that is the perfect breeding ground for a pandemic yet when out in the fresh air those same children cant play a 5 a side football game.

In Bolton where I live there is a local lockdown so the pubs and restaurants can only provide takeaway service and no one is allowed to go into others homes. Yet as I drive down the road to Swinton where my father lives the pubs are open (only until 10pm remember) with customers enjoying a drink or three inside the building. There are so many different rules for different areas is it any wonder the general population are confused?

There are now so many local lockdowns soon the whole of England will have a national lockdown without one being officially implemented by Boris.

Fans returning to sporting events has been put on hold again due to the rise in cases. This means I cannot drive in the safety of my own car to a football ground where I would sit apart from the next fan in the open air then walk through a one way system back to my car where I would drive home without coming into contact with anyone. Yet I can go to the pub (in the next town remember as Bolton is in local lockdown) and sit there drinking from glasses that may not have been cleaned properly breathing in the same air as others. Is it me or does that second scenario seem more risky than the first?

I could go on but you get where I’m coming from. Confusion and u turns galore reign supreme in the UK with no sign of things changing.

Is it too simplistic to just use common sense? Wash your hands, sanitise, wear a mask when needed and generally think before you act. Forget whether 1m or 1m and a bit, stay 2m apart. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a supervisor at work was “Keep it simple stupid” If in doubt think KISS and you stand a better chance of getting through this pandemic.

Bolton back in lockdown

I feel like I am getting whiplash due to all the government u turns about anything at the moment, not to mention to weekly changes to our lives due to Coronavirus especially here in Greater Manchester.

Before I begin this is not a political rant but merely an observation from someone living in an area that has had its fair share of restrictions. Add to that the lifting of those restrictions and subsequent re-introduction of restrictions borough by borough, week by week.

Living in Bolton and working in Oldham has placed me in two areas with the highest amount of positive Covid results with each borough now seeing themselves under stricter restrictions which is understandable.

For me personally these restrictions do not alter my daily life all that much. I can still see my father as he is in our “bubble” but we now are unable to see friends indoors or outdoors (which is a recent restriction). I can still go about my daily routine, visit the shops, etc but it is some of the detail in the decisions that seem completely farcical to me and many others.

For instance, just prior to this recent lockdown I could not see my friends in their house but we could be in the same pub or shop at the same time. So we could have a socially distanced pint in the pub but not have them round for dinner.

Our friend has her own beauty business. The beauty industry has been hit very hard due to the restrictions and I really feel for everyone involved who are trying to earn a living.

My wife could go and have certain treatments at our friends salon like her feet or nails but not have a facial treatment. Yet staff wear full PPE and are just as close to the customer touching other parts of the body yet are unable to move further up the body to massage someone’s face. That to any person seems a ridiculous scenario.

Only a couple of weeks ago Bolton was to be released from local restrictions so our friend made plenty of bookings for facials only for that decision to be reversed 24 hours before the restrictions were to be lifted. This meant all the bookings had to be cancelled again. Also, my wife unable to have a facial treatment in Bolton could go 10 miles over the hill into the Blackburn area and visit a beauty salon there and have said treatment because restrictions were not as strict in that area due to lower levels of infection.

Even more farcical is Edgeworth is 2 miles away and has a BL7 postcode therefore is in Bolton. Yet it comes under Blackburn & Darwen council and therefore anyone can go and have facial treatments in Edgeworth. That is one issue with having localised restrictions in place, the whole situation feels farcical.

When the decision was made at government levels to have more localised restrictions borough by borough rather than the whole of a county this brought even more frustration.

For instance, in Oldham two small areas were responsible for the high infection rates. Yet other parts of the borough had virtually no infections recorded but those areas had to abide by the new restrictions. So a business in Saddleworth (which had few infections) had to abide by new restrictions the same as in Alexandra where the rates were sky high.

It is the same in Bolton. Two areas (Hall i`th Wood & Breightmet) had high infection rates yet a few miles down the road in Bromley Cross and Horwich there were only 2 new infections yet everyone in the town comes under the same new restrictions.

I feel sorry for the local independent businesses who suffer the most. We are very fortunate to have one off independent shops, cafes, bars, restaurants that you do not see elsewhere rather than the large national ones. These businesses create a unique atmosphere and generally are flourishing in the local areas yet these are the very businesses that are suffering terribly by the constant changing of the rules.

Many businesses were closed during lockdown. Then they opened and took advantage of the governments “Eat out to help out” scheme that kick started business again. Just as those shops were getting back on their feet and customer confidence in being safe in those premises was on the rise, comes the latest hammer blow with only takeaway service allowed in the town and no business can be open between 10pm & 5am.

An interesting issue with the virus is how it appears to flourish in the poorer areas than the more affluent. When you look at the areas in Oldham and Bolton where the infection rates are high it is in poorer, run down areas traditionally with poor housing, residents with poorer diets, higher unemployment, etc.

Is that due to poor health or is it that people living in deprived areas for whatever reason do not understand the rules regarding social distancing? This is a deeper social issue and I for one do not have the answer. Yes poor housing conditions will help any virus thrive but do the people themselves listen to the news and take it upon themselves to keep safer like another person who may regularly watch the news, be aware of the advice from health ministers?

It is clear that in different communities there are differing rates of the virus. Whether that be due to poverty or due to ethnicity. This is a fact that many Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities in the north of England live in areas where the housing consists of back to back terraced houses that have seen better days. South Asian families tend to live together in bigger numbers and relatives live on the same or nearby streets.

In one asian household in Oldham, the occupants were responsible for 30 new infection rates alone. Typically in one house there will be grandparents, parents and children all living together. Those families will obviously meet up with their relatives in similar cramped housing hence how the virus spreads. Whereas my family as an example is indicative of most North European families. In our house three people reside, me, my wife and son. My father lives 10 miles away, my father in law a similar distance and our brothers live miles away too. You see the difference in communities? Yet the infection rates have been lower where I live and where my relatives live.

The whole situation is difficult and whilst I had a degree of sympathy with our government when Covid first arrived in our country, over time that sympathy has eroded due to the number of u turns and scenarios like the Dominic Cummings affair.

Having been fortunate to have a holiday abroad this year in Corfu, Greece I have seen how another country has managed the virus in a much more sensible manner. Greece locked down in February, earlier than the UK and as such have experienced less infections and deaths.

Whilst on the island of Corfu, staff in the hotel, bars and restaurants wore PPE. Tables and sun loungers were spaced sufficiently apart and the whole atmosphere was relaxed with people abiding by the rules. Everywhere was immaculately clean and the only time you realised we were in the middle of a pandemic was when you saw staff wearing PPE. I have spoken to a number of people who have also visited regions of Greece and they have come back with the same experience. One of feeling safer in Greece than back home amidst all the chaos and nonsense brought on by our own government.

There seems no light at the end of the tunnel in the battle against Covid 19. Until there is a vaccine we will see weekly rises and reductions in cases in areas. We will continue to see one area have a spike in cases, then naturally see a reduction when restrictions kick in. The problem being when those restrictions are relaxed due to the lowering of the infections, then we will naturally see another rise due to people coming into contact with each other again. Will that mean we get the yo-yo effect of closing businesses only to reopen weeks later and so on?

We are already seeing the public losing faith in what our leaders say and do. Initially in March, April & May the public went along with what they were instructed by the government and generally abided by lockdown rules. Now time has gone one, the patience of most people has been tested and worn down so much that many choose to ignore the advice and carry on with their daily lives. The real danger now is that the public do not go along with the government along this journey through Coronavirus such is the lack of trust.

When and where this will end is anyone’s guess.