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.

Uncertainty cancels European tours

The COVID Diaries – 293 17th February

National Theatre tours of Europe have fallen victim to the uncertainty caused by Brexit and the resulting requirements for work permits. A number of European countries will now require people working in the arts to apply for short-term permits.

A spokesman said: “We hope to resume European touring. However, we’re currently unable to make firm plans because of Brexit legislation; the potential additional costs for visas and current uncertainty around social security contributions mean regrettably it is currently not financially viable.”

More people asked to shield

The COVID Diaries – 292 16th February

Another 1.7 million people in England are going to be asked to shield, in addition to the 2.3 million already shielding. A new model has been developed that includes factors other than just health.

Factors such as deprivation, ethnicity and weight have been used to calculate the risk of becoming seriously ill due to Covid. Age, health issues and medication are also included.

No guarantee this is final lockdown

The COVID Diaries – 291 15th February

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said there is “some way to go” before coronavirus restrictions are eased as government ministers start to review these in England.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson told a press conference that he wanted the current lockdown to be the last, but admitted he couldn’t guarantee this would be the case. However, he said he aims to ease restrictions in a way that is “irreversible”.

Some relaxation coming?

The COVID Diaries – 290 14th February

Some loosening of current Covid-19 restrictions may be announced later this month, according to rumours circulating in the press.

It is suggested that from 8 March people will be able to meet one friend not from their household in certain conditions outside.

School children may also return at the same time, but meeting inside will still be banned

Trump acquitted, but…..

The COVID Diaries – 289 13th February

Donald Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial because the Senate vote of 57-43 was ten votes short of the two-thirds of votes needed to convict the former president. However seven Republicans voted to convict the former president.

The Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, said he voted to acquit Donald Trump because he thought it was unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office.

McConnell suggested Donald Trump could still be subject to criminal prosecution over his role in the insurrection.

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically, and morally, responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said.