My Isolation Diary – Day 76 (Wednesday, June 3 2020)
TODAY let us be thankful we live in the South West. In fact, let us thank our lucky stars that we live in Dorset.
They say that Yorkshire is God’s Own Country. And whilst I like Yorkshire, once having had an office in Leeds, wonderful city, I think the Lord should take another look at Dorset.
Onto Facebook last evening came an update on the state of public health in our county, courtesy of Dorset councillor Daryl Turner, with some very encouraging newsfor us all. Rejoice.
The report stated that the two council areas in Dorset were experiencing low numbers of coronavirus cases compared to other authorities in England with 6.1 cases per 100,000 residents compared with 9.1 per 100,000 nationally.
Some concern has been expressed in recent days about high the R factor in the South West. Nationally, it has been standing at between 0.7 and 0.9 with Dorset at the top end of the scale.
The report stated that the R calculations cannot be accurately estimated for smaller populated areas, therefore a reliable R number could not be calculated for Dorset.
With the current R rating nationally below 1, the advice from the scientists is that it is safe for schools to return as long as social distancing and hygiene are observed.
About 75% of Dorset schools have welcomed back reception and Year 1 pupils and about 50% welcoming more students into Year 6 pupils.
Our two local schools in Lyme and Uplyme have followed this advice and opened their doors again this week, although some parents decided not to risk their children’s health by doing so.
A huge amount of planning by school staff has gone into providing a safe environment for the kids and I know that a little lad that lives near me was full of excitement after his first day back and being able to see his friends again.
Like Lyme Regis and Charmouth, most beaches in the UK were crowded after Boris Johnson eased lockdown restrictions and allowed travel to beauty spots, and this was reflected in the number of calls dealt with by HM Coastguards, 447 in total, an increase of 168% on the May 2019 figures.
The call-outs included the major incident at Durdle Door, reported in yesterday’s blog, where three young people were seriously injured after tombstoning off cliffs, resulting in a plea by Dorset Council leader Spencer Flower to the Prime Minister to revoke the new rule over being able to travel. No reply yet, I presume?
I am loathed to mention Dominic Cummings in this blog again, but it seems the PM’s chief advisor could well in trouble again.
According to one prominent political columnist, the decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals at UK airports, backed by hefty fines for anyone who broke the rules, was Cummings’ idea to deflect a story that was about to break which he thought would add greatly to the government’s already considerable problems.
Cummings had got wind of a story The Guardian was about to run that Theresa May’s government had been warned four years ago that failure to prepare for a pandemic would have a devastating impact on care homes.
Cummings, a master of the dark arts, knew this could have a devastating impact on an already under–pressure government so he pulled an old trick in the shady world of non-elected political advertisers.
It is alleged he came up with another corker of a story about quarantining arrivals at the airports and briefed The Times.
Apparently, some Cabinet members did not know anything about this until the heard it on television. And many more were wondering why such a move was not introducing when thousands were passing through customs at the beginning of the contagion.
Cummings believed the policy would be welcomed by the public – but he was wrong. And now it has caused yet another rebellion among Tory MPs. Boris Johnson, predictably, stuck by the policy at today PMQs in the Commons but there are moves to water down the decision to sweeten the pill.
Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer clashed again in the Commons today. The honeymoon is certainly over now and we can look forward to more fireworks. Starmer is an astute operator at the dispatch box. He’s quick to pick up on the government’s weakness, although, as yet, we don’t know how he would have handled out the pandemic.
The number of cases and the death rate are falling and the country is slowly opening up again – but there’s no respite for a government which seems to lurch from one botched policy to another.
Who would want to be in politics?
Not Groucho Marx, who once said: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”