Tag Archives: covid-19

Alice in Wonderland Would be at Home Here

From tomorrow (Saturday 17th October), it becomes illegal for separate households to mix indoors (unless the household concerned is part of a bubble, in which case it is allowed). Households may also mix in Covid secure workplaces, although the government advises that those who can do so should work from home.

As someone who lives in the Greater London area, the above rules will impact me from Saturday 17th October.

I find the restrictions nonsensical. I can, from tomorrow still go into a pub or restaurant and be in the presence of other households (provided I remain 2 metres apart and wear a mask when not seated). However I can not meet friends in a pub or restaurant even if we are “social distancing”.

Yesterday evening I popped into my favourite local pub. It was relatively quiet and I chatted to a couple of customers (socially distanced from me) over a few pints. From Saturday 17th October I will still be able to talk to people in a pub and/or restaurant provided we remain socially distanced, and provided also that they are not my friends!

Again, I can not have friends or family round to my home, but my cleaner may, perfectly legally continue to clean my home provided that we observe Covid secure guidelines.

Now, my cleaner wears a mask and gloves whilst in my home and (when I last checked) my family and friends did not)! However, the fact remains that a cleaner or other tradesperson may continue to visit domestic premises, for the purposes of work, whilst family and friends may not do so (unless the household is part of a bubble).

I am sure that Alice (of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass fame) would be at home in this crazy world we are currently inhabiting!

As I’ve said previously, whilst I accept that Covid-19 is a serious issue, I am not a supporter of bans on household mixing. I think that any true liberal should feel very queasy when police are empowered to fine and/or arrest households for socially mixing.

For anyone interested in reading about the Covid restrictions, please see https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1346946/can-workmen-come-to-the-house-cleaners-household-mixing-new-rules-tier-1-2-3-EVG.

COVID-19

A week or so back, I was in a pub when a group began singing along, very loudly to music. Being aware of research which indicates that COVID-19 can be spread by singing, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-unmasked-indoors-covid-aerosols.html , I became concerned and deliberately shifted my position so that my face was away from the singers.

My feelings regarding the above incident remain ambivalent. On the one hand, I believe that the singers behaved irresponsibly (there actions could have spread Corona), However, on the other hand we all need some joy in our lives and the measures introduced during the present pandemic do not spread happiness! In addition, I was sitting approximately 2 metres away from the singers, which put me at minimum risk. Also, I had entered the pub of my own volition and (despite my worries about the spread of the virus), I was pleased to see people enjoying themselves.

Had the police entered the premises, they would, I suspect have asked the singers to desist or, if they had refused to do so, issued a fine.

A society in which people can be fined for singing in pubs is not one which recommends itself to me, and I’m not in the business of reporting individuals who choose to exercise their lungs by singing.

I find it shocking that in some parts of the UK (much of the north-west of England for example) that it is against the law for different households to mix together. I’m equally disturbed that some politicians are actively encouraging members of the public to report on those breeching the rules on households mixing, (see https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-report-your-neighbours-to-police-if-they-break-rule-of-six-says-minister-12071678). Until very recently ratting on one’s neighbours in this manner would have been considered as something done in the Third Reich or the former German Democratic Republic (Communist East Germany), and wholeheartedly condemned by lovers of traditional English liberty.

I recommend this article for anyone who doubts the absurdity of the current muddle which constitutes COVID-19 regulations, https://capx.co/in-the-age-of-covid-the-law-is-a-thug/.

People talk of “the science”. Whilst COVID-19 is a real problem and those who deny it’s existence (conspiracy theorists) are barking mad, there is no scientific consensus on how to deal with the pandemic. See, for example this article about scientists opposed to lockdown (with which I have some sympathy), https://news.sky.com/story/scientists-and-politicians-split-over-how-to-tackle-rising-covid-infections-as-northern-leaders-say-restrictions-are-not-working-12096597.

A Young Lady Wearing A Corona Virus Mask

A young lady wearing a Corona virus mask
Said, “some people they take me to task
For shopping whilst nude,
Which prudes think rude.
But at least I am wearing a mask!”.

Literature Today is inviting submissions on the theme of pandemic

Literature Today is inviting submissions on the theme of pandemic. For further details please see below:

Dear Author,
We are inviting submissions for September 2020 issue of ‘Literature Today’. The theme of our September 2020 issue is ‘Pandemic’. You can send us poems, short stories, memoirs and one act plays. The issue will be published in hard copy (Paperback) and digital copy .

For detailed submission guidelines and link of previous issues please visit: https://literaturetodayjournal.blogspot.com/

Perchance I Shall Thumb My Nose

Will government do the hokey cokey and close
The pubs (which only reopened on 4 July)?
Scientists cry,
“We maintain, that the pubs must close again!”.
And the electorate thumb their nose
At politicians,
As the country goes
To pedition.

And I think
Of a dry
Autumn to come.
So will enjoy a drink
In the hot summer sun.
And rhyme
‘Ere time
Is called, and the pubs are closed.

And, perchance
I shall thumb my nose
At those
Who would destroy
The dance
Of joy.

1 Meter Plus?

He sought bliss
In a kiss.
But, “Corona”, she cried.
“Your kiss is denied!”.

“What about a hug”,
He said.
“That is also denied”,
She replied,
“for a bug
May hide inside
A hug”.

“So is love dead?”,
He said.
“Perchance we may dance
1 meter apart.
But, to be safe
We must not embrace.

You have my heart”,
Said she.
“But, let us discuss,
Perhaps, for you and me
It really ought to be
1 meter plus?”.

Super Saturday?

On Saturday 4 July, (the first day on which pubs in England reopened), the so-called “Super Saturday”, I went to my favourite local pub with friends. For anyone who isn’t aware, the pubs (along with restaurants and many other venues) closed in March, due to an order from the government, the instructions being designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On entering the pub, my friend and I had our temperatures taken by a young woman. Then, our temperatures being normal, we sanitised our hands with sanitiser. Following this “new normal”, my friend and I where conducted to a table, from where we ordered our drinks.

Anyone familiar with the British pub may well have visions of people standing or sitting around the bar, chatting, reading newspapers or swearing at the television when their favourite team misses a chance to score a goal! Sadly, under “the new normal”, this has been replaced by the rule that customers may not congregate at the bar, and must be served at a table which, following their departure will be sanitised by pub staff.

Whilst it was good to catch up with friends (another friend and his wife joined us later), I missed the mingling which is part and parcel of the traditional English pub. There was no more going up to the bar and exchanging banter with regulars, nor could one (officially at least) invite someone who was not part of the original party to join your table.

The young woman serving us (the same lady who had taken our temperatures) was wearing a mask. Whilst I can, of course understand her reasons for doing so (to protect against the possibility of contracting or passing on the virus), I couldn’t help thinking how she would cope on a baking hot summer’s day!

If you read the reports of “Super Saturday” you will, no doubt come across stories of “drunks not socially distancing”. All I can say is that neither my friends or I witnessed any such behaviour. Indeed the pub was rather quiet, perhaps owing to the fear of contracting the virus which does (I know through conversations with people) pray on the minds of some.

Whilst I was delighted to enjoy a few pints in the company of friends, I felt a sense of sadness at the sanitised atmosphere. We have, I fear lost something, I hope not permanently. We have lost the natural vibrancy of the traditional British watering hole. We have lost the stopping to chat to old acquaintences at the bar as we order our drinks. We have lost the ability (at least officially) to invite strangers to join us for a drink at our table. All this may be necessary, but it is still a loss and there is no getting away from that fact.

Kevin

Shopping During the Pandemic

Being in need of some new trainers (the 2 pairs I own are fine for walking the dog, but not much else), I visited TK Maxx with a friend yesterday.

According to this Guardian article, https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/jun/10/shopping-for-clothes-is-about-to-get-weird-heres-how-to-make-it-simpler, one can expect the following when clothes shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Staff wearing masks.
The presence of free hand sanatiser in stores.
A 2 meter social distancing rule,
And any clothes touched by customers quarantined (if not bought) to prevent the spread of the virus.

Being blind, I did my shopping with the assistance of a sighted friend.

Sure enough, on entering the store, we where directed to hand sanatiser which we both used prior to commencing our shopping.

“Are the staff wearing masks?” I enquired?”, as we stood by a clothes rail. “no”, my friend replied.

In England, its compulsory to wear masks/cover one’s face on public transport. However the wearing of face coverings in most other settings (including shops) is voluntary.

Whilst in store, I tried on several pairs of trainers, one of which I purchased, whilst the others where returned to the shelves.

My friend and I both handled clothes and put back those we did not purchase, as there seemed to be no separate place for depositing garments destined for quarantine.

In England, the 2 meter social distancing rule has been reduced to 1 meter plus. This means that 2 meters should still apply when practicality allows, but 1 meter is allowable where 2 meters is impossible or unreasonably difficult (for example in the hospitality industry). TK Max had a 2 meter distancing rule, which customers all seemed to be respecting.

Following our visit to TK Max, we went into a nearby Sainsburys. This was much busier than TK Maxx and I was glad to have my mask on (although just how effective face coverings are is still a matter of debate). Unlike TK Maxx, Sainsburys did not appear to have free hand sanatiser available for their customers use, although its possible that we failed to spot its presence.

Conclusions:

Pre COVID-19, I would, as a blind person enter a shop and take the arm of a member of staff who would conduct me round the store, help in the choosing of items ETC. Whilst under the Equalities Act stores (and other businesses and service providers) have to offer assistance to people who are disabled, just how this will happen during the pandemic is a cause for concern. For example would a member of staff be happy for a visually impaired person such as myself to take their arm? My own view is that with the wearing of a mask and the cleaning of the arm once the assistance has been provided, should greatly reduce the risk of transmission of any infection.

I have no idea what the policy of TK Maxx is as regards guiding, as I was guided by my friend. The store staff where pleasant and helpful and I’ve no negative comments. However I can’t help wondering what my experience would have been like had I gone in alone, with my guide dog or white cane.

The apparent absence of a quarantine pile for unwanted items did not entirely surprise me, as I’m not sure how practical such a policy is. Even where such a policy exists it is, of course dependent on customers remembering to place unwanted items on the quarantine pile.

As for masks, I am not sure how effective they are. I don’t wear them on the street, in parks ETC. However I will wear them in crowded shops. Although they are impractical in settings such as pubs and restaurants.

Cover Up

The journal Pulse reports that:

“the BMA believes face coverings should be worn at all times where practicable, including outdoors, in case social distancing is not observed for whatever reason.” (see http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/bma-calls-for-the-public-to-be-required-to-wear-face-masks-in-all-settings/20041054.article).

I have the greatest respect for the medical profession. They saved my life as a small child by removing a blood clot from my brain. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals work extremely hard, and have put themselves at great risk during the Corona pandemic in the line of duty.

I do, however hope that the UK government resists calls by the BMA for the wearing of face coverings “in all settings”.

We have been told that, when outside, the risk of contracting the virus is greatly reduced due to the circulation of air. Indeed the first lockdown restrictions to be lifted pertained to allowing people (not from the same household) to socialise outdoors. Yet we are now being advised (or told depending on how one interprets it), by the BMA that we should all be wearing masks as a matter of routine in all settings.

I for one would rather take the risk when in a park, strolling through the woods, or in some other place of beauty where the air is good, of not wearing a mask and actually feeling that I’m living a life (rather than merely existing)

Are we to be medicated to the extent that we remain “safe” whilst joy dies?

I accept the need for face coverings on public transport where social distancing is frequently impossible. However imposing the wearing of masks/face coverings “in all settings” is a step to far, and I sincerely hope that the government does not act on the advice of the BMA in this instance.

Are we really going to turn into a society where policemen pop out from behind trees in the forest and say, “excuse me, why are you not wearing a face covering?” The very idea is, at the same time both risible and rather sinister.

How to Assist a Blind Person During Social Distancing

I received this message from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA), the charity which trains guide dogs in the UK, and thought it would be of value to my readers as it offers useful tips on how to assist a visually impaired person during this time of social distancing:

“Did you know that only one fifth of the public ‘completely comfortable’ offering to help someone with sight loss while social distancing is in place?*

“Today Guide Dogs has launched a new campaign called ‘Be There’ to give the public ways of supporting people with sight loss during social distancing.

“Social distancing is the most challenging aspect for me in the whole Covid-19 situation… it would really help if people have an awareness of how they can play their part.” Jonathan, guide dog owner

Jon is not alone in this, we’ve heard similar stories many times over the past few months. That’s why we’ve come up with 3 simple tips for the wider public to help them support people with sight loss:

1. Keep your distance, but don’t disappear – People with sight loss may find it challenging to social distance, so if you see someone with a Guide Dog or a long cane then you can help them by making sure you keep 2m away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also offer your help.

2. Say hello and offer your help – Simply by letting someone with sight loss know you are nearby; you are giving them the opportunity to ask for any help if they need it. People often feel unsure about their ability to help someone with sight loss, but their request could be a simple as finding out where a shopping queue starts, or if there is a safer place to cross a road.

3. Describe the scene – We’ve all had to adapt to unusual sights during lockdown – people standing apart in long lines outside of supermarkets for example. But those with sight loss haven’t always witnessed this to the same extent, which can be isolating and confusing. By describing what you can see to someone with sight loss, you can help them to understand the environment and navigate accordingly”.

As a visually impaired person and a guide dog owner, I have, I think been lucky as I’ve continued to find the public helpful during the current COVID-19 situation. Just last evening I was walking home after having spent a couple of hours with a friend in Crystal Palace park, when I became aware that the pavement was blocked by workmen carrying out pavement works. Without me asking, one of the workmen offered me his arm and guided me passed the obstruction. Again, a few weeks back, a gentleman helped me navigate fallen branches in my local woodland by allowing me to take his arm.

(You can find out more about the work of Guide Dogs here, https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/).