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.

Trump told rioters “We love you”

The COVID Diaries – 288 11th February

The impeachment hearing against Donald Trump has continued, with Congressman Joe Neguse arguing that Trump’s behaviour was evidence of his guilt. He had shared a video in which he described the rioters as “very special”, and he told them, “We love you.”

Neguse said senators should convict Trump of inciting insurrection “Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?”

Pence evacuated just in time during Capitol invasion

The COVID Diaries – 287 10th February

The impeachment hearings for Donald Trump have been shown remarkable security footage of Vice President Mike Pence and his family being evacuated from the Senate chamber at the same time as President Trump was continuing to attack Pence back at the White House.

In other security footage, Trump supporting rioters are seen shouting “Hang Mike Pence”. Pence was only evacuated minutes before the rioters arrived.

UK deal “more than bumpy”

The COVID Diaries – 286 9th February

David Frost, the government’s chief Brexit negotiator, has conceded that the start of the UK’s deal with the European Union has been “more than bumpy” in the six weeks after the transition out of the single market and customs union.

He admitted there had been a failure to achieve the “friendly cooperation between sovereign equals” which the UK claimed to be its aim.

PM confident in vaccines

The COVID Diaries – 285 8th February

A small-scale review has suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine gives “minimal protection” against mild disease from the South African variant of the coronavirus.

People may or may not be reassured by Boris Johnson’s reassurance that he is “very confident” in the Covid vaccines being used in the United Kingdom, claiming that the vaccines are effective in delivering a high degree of protection against serious illness.

Cheney invokes Lincoln

The COVID Diaries – 284 7th February

Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House of Representatives was interviewed on Fox News Sunday and said the Republicans should “not be embracing the former president” after his speech that incited the violent invasion of the United States Capitol.

Cheney went on to say : “We are the party of Lincoln. We are not the party of QAnon or anti-semitism or holocaust deniers, or white supremacy or conspiracy theories. It’s not who we are.”