Back to School

The COVID Diaries – 303 5th March

Heralding the return of pupils to the classroom in English Schools next Monday, Mike Hancock< secretary of State for Heath, said:

“Next week, classrooms will be buzzing with activity once more. I know parents across England will be delighted and relieved that all children are going back to school.”

Sturgeon hits back at Salmond

The COVID Diaries – 302 4th March

Speaking at the inquiry into her government’s unlawful handling of harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon has rejected most of his claims saying she had no reason to want to “get” Alex Salmond and dismissing claims of a plot against him as “absurd”.

Sturgeon apologised to the women who brought the complaints, who had been let down by a “very serious error”.

Scots Nats take a hit

The COVID Diaries – 301 3rd March

With elections for the Scottish Parliament fast approaching, the Scottish Nationalist Party has looked set to win a convincing victory as disillusionment with Boris Johnson’s Tory UK government has grown in Scotland

This in turn would strengthen the calls for independence from nationalists.

But this week the wheels have come off as former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has laid into his prodigy and successor Nicola Sturgeon claiming that she was part of a plot to force him out of public life and even put him in prison.

The row centres on an unlawful Scottish Government inquiry into serious accusations of sexual assault made against Salmond, and what and when Sturgeon new about this.

Inexplicable cut in aid to Yemen

The COVID Diaries – 300 1st March

Former foreign secretary James Hunt has said of a cut in UK aid to Yemen that the “timing is inexplicable with the UN warning only last week that Yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

Condemnation from charities and politicians of all parties has greeted the government’s announcement that aid to Yemen will be cut by more than a half as hundreds of thousands live in famine conditions.

Wartime bomb exploded in Exeter

The COVID Diaries – 299 27th February

More than 2,600 homes and halls of residence at Exeter University were evacuated so that a wartime bomb could be detonated by the army in a controlled explosion in Exeter.

The explosion was heard 5 miles away after bomb disposal experts used 400 tonnes of sand to create an enclosing “box”. The bomb was found on a building site which was being excavated

Scots at war

The COVID Diaries – 298 24th February

Until recently the Scottish National Party looked set to win a significant victory in the elections for the Scottish Parliament this coming May.

But the mood is changing . A civil war appears to have broken out between leader Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor and mentor Alex Salmond.

The argument centres on serious allegations made against Salmond about sexual assault while he was First Minister of Scotland. A court case failed to find him guilty, but the battle goes on.

Salmond is now making serious allegations against Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures, claiming there is a plot to remove him from public life and even put him in prison.

Whatever the outcome, it looks as though the SNP are shooting themselves in the foot just as support for independence has been moving in their favour.

Climate change hitting “worst case scenario” levels

The COVID Diaries – 297 23rd Febrary

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency has warned that climate change has already hit “worst case scenario” levels which if allowed to continue will result in the collapse of ecosystems.

Speaking to the annual conference of the Association of British Insurers he said: “Much more extreme weather will kill more people through drought, flooding, wildfires and heatwaves than most wars have.

“The net effects will collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society.”

Roadmap out of lockdown

The Covid Diaries – 296 22nd February

Boris Johnson has announced his roadmap out of lock down. The BBC has summarised stage one of the “roadmap” as follows (it is in two parts):

8 March

  • All schools and colleges will reopen
  • University students can return for practical courses. There will be a review by the end of the Easter holidays for all other students
  • Face coverings are recommended in class for secondary school students and also for parents and staff in primary schools
  • Wraparound childcare can also return for vulnerable pupils and where it is needed for parents or carers to go to work, support groups or to seek medical care
  • Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”
  • One nominated person can visit care homes, but will need PPE, a lateral flow test and to “keep physical contact to a minimum”
  • Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances

29 March

  • People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens
  • The stay at home rule will end but people should stay local as much as possible
  • Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts
  • Formally organised outdoor sports can also restart
  • Parents and children groups can return but are capped at 15 and must be outdoors. Indoor groups can take place for vulnerable children and where parents need the groups to go to work

Depending on various measures about the vaccine roll-out and spread of the virus, stage two will start no earlier than 12th April.

Schools row?

The COVID Diaries – 295 19th February

Next Monday Boris Johnson is expected to reveal his “road map” for moving out of national lockdown restrictions.

Rumour has it that a disagreement has emerged between the Prime Minister and England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty. The expectation has been that schools would commence a phased return on 8th March.

Now it seems Boris wants all pupils to return and Whitty is “very unhappy” with all ten million children returning on the same day.

Airbus loses billion euros

The COVID Diaries – 294 18th February

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus has seen losses increase to more than one billion euros last year after deliveries of its aircraft fell by a third.

The company is expected to remain under significant pressure over the next year due to the “volatile environment” created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last summer the company warned that it would face the “gravest crisis” the in its history due to the pandemic, and planned to cut as many as 15,000 jobs, including 1,700 in the United Kingdom.