Monday, 11th January, 2021

[Day 301]

It was quite a grey and overcast day today – the temperature was actually 2-3° higher than yesterday but there was a slight breeze to make you feel it was actually a bit cooler. We collected our newspapers and sat, as normal, in the park but we it was getting a little chilly so we were not inclined to linger for too long. I knew that the government were speaking about tightening up some of the rules surrounding how people behave in public and the following ‘guidance’ (which probably does not have the force of law) came today.

Mr Zahawi ( the minister in charge of vaccinations) highlighted people failing to wear masks or obey one-way lanes inside supermarkets.“These rules are not boundaries to be pushed at, these are rules that help all of us, hopefully bring down the death rate.” Asked on Times Radio if people should avoid sitting on park benches, he said: “Don’t go out and sit or have that opportunity of social interaction, because you’re helping the virus and that’s what we want to avoid.”

So that puts us in a bit of a dilemma because we are in receipt of some advice, issued in the Spring lockdown, that a sit-down was quite permissible if taken in the context of a long walk (in any case three kilometres) On the other hand, we do not wish to give the impression that we are openly flouting rules and sitting on the park bench each day might give that impression. So we have decided for the next three or four weeks, ur until we get vaccinated, we will stand in the bandstand and a have a quick swig of coffee and perhaps some ‘small eats’ in our hand such as as a banana and a cereal bar. I think we are conscious of the fact that voters may be observing our behaviour and assuming that we are breaking rules although it is not at all clear that we are. This is part of the dilemma of interpreting general regulations and trying to act within the spirit of them if at all possible.

The government are evidently getting seriously concerned about how to deal with the rapidly worsening pandemic. In the spring lockdown, the numbers of people keeping indoors was very much more (and the number of key workers was defined as less than now.) We now have a situation, though, where the new variant of the virus is much more infectious than before, the numbers of key workers seems to have been expanded tremendously, some of the primary schools are about 25% full with vulnerable and key-workers’ children and the population as a whole after 10 months do not seem to be taking things as seriously as they once did. Hence it is no surprise that the number of new infections is rocketing and the hospitals, particularly in London, are on the point of collapse. A vaccine will only give partial protection and is, by no means, a ‘magic bullet’ as the full immunity will not be released until the second dose is administered some 12 weeks later (and then a further 2-3 weeks on top of that) The government is rolling out vaccination centres across several points even including a race course such as Epsom) but I do wonder whether there are sufficient staff, even when assisted by volunteers, to get the jab adminsistered. In my mind, I am writing off ‘the call’ for a vaccination for some 3 weeks from now which is when I reckon the 80’s year olds have been done and they move on to the 75+ into which category I fall.

The news from America also makes some fairly grim reading. The FBI are warning that there could be fifty armed protests in State capital cities as well as in Washington, DC on inauguration day. The Democrats have drawn up articles of impeachment and that will almostcertainly pass through the House of Wednesday., There would not be enough time for the Senate, who act as jury, to one to a consideration before inauguration day. The Democrats, though, seem to be working on the assumption that Donald Trump’s wings have been clipped in the short term and he may not try anything dramatic in the next 10-12 days – but who knows? The Democrats may well wait for at least ‘100 days in office’ before the papers of impeachment are lodged with the Senate. In any case, President Trump will be the only president who has been impeached twice within his term of office. If the Senate (augmented, of course, by some more Democratic senators from Georgia) might just vote for a conviction, although this is a little unlikely and would debar Trump for running for office again. The thing that is really disturbing after the events in the Capitol last week is the number of Republican legislators (about a hundred) who still support Trump even after the attempted coup – and perhaps some 40% of American republican voters are still loyal to him as well.