Is “hiccup” the right word?

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Volunteers needed at Tilling Green

A search of what local attractions are doing now they can in theory open up, shows a great deal of hesitation because of the need for social distancing, and the fact that a lot of government guidance is still in place about who can meet up with who, and where, and how.

But when is it a rule rather than guidance or advice? That’s been a big question this week – or is it just a “hiccup”?

However this guidance or these rules have an impact currently on how cinemas will operate; how far National Trust properties open up; what other attractions like Great Dixter’s gardens can cope with; and how our heritage railways at Tenterden and Romney will operate.

So, while places are opening up for visitors – and there are staycationers around already –  it is not always a full menu on offer – and, if anything, the pendulum may possibly be starting to swing back the other way.

Six areas pinpointed as “risky”

Earlier this week, surge testing was taking place in four London boroughs, and the India variant of Covid-19 had apparently been identified in 150 local authority areas. And the population was being told (or did it then become “advised”?) not to visit a growing number of places across the country.

Six in particular were pinpointed – not just in the north west like Bolton, but also further north in Tyneside in the north east, then east in Kirklees in Yorkshire, and further south Leicester in the Midlands, and then even further south, Bedford, and also Hounslow in London – as a result of the apparently growing spread of the India variant – supposedly in daunting numbers in these six areas – but also cropping up in many other places.

But very few hospitals are reporting any pressure so far and patients to date are often much younger – and not the most vulnerable. So the bad news is good in places.

However, it seems possible that some countries might now put Britain on their red list because of the variant’s spread, and that spread itself highlights the need for Britain to have a red list at airports and more importantly operate it effectively to prevent any other variants being let in.

The speed with which the variant now seems to be spreading reflects the time gap between the actual transmission of germs and infections being discovered and announced, and it is beginning to feel like the period when the Kent variant took hold and spread – and lockdown was enforced, tier by tier.

But has the game changed? 

“Now” is however different from “then” as more and more people get vaccinated, and the vaccines are found to be reasonably effective – so we may be starting this third wave from a very different point.

But more and more people may find themselves staycationing as the variant spreads, particularly if Britain is red listed, or popular holiday countries don’t get a green light, or both happen, and we will need to vaccinate more and more people as soon as possible.

The new vaccination centre in Tilling Green is therefore to be welcomed and it, and every other vaccination centre in the country, may be working flat out soon – if they aren’t already.

But it may also mean that we still need social distancing to avoid new infections, and that lockdown is not going to totally go away – and, indeed, it may be increased on an area by area basis whether by guidance or rule until everybody is vaccinated.

So, while it is nice to look forward to a potentially sunny bank holiday weekend after all the recent wind and rain, the coming weeks may still be cloudy I fear – and certainly uncertain.

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .

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