14th August 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 72 Self-Isolation
A victim of the pingdemic I have to find a way of dealing with self-isolation this week.
This week begins with a dilemma. Do I carry on as normal or do I obey the NHS app which tells me I have to self-isolate. The thought of self-isolating again when everyone else is now enjoying freedom from all restrictions is overwhelming – no trip to the Isle of Man, no volunteering on Brownsea Island or at a vaccine hub. But I am already aware that two vaccinations don’t guarantee I will not contract the virus only that the symptoms will not be so severe. But I have to consider other people as well and who might be affected if I do test positive.
Monday 02 August 2021
I do a rapid lateral flow test as soon as I get up this morning. The result is negative. I am still wondering where the ‘contact’ could have been as the tracing on my NHS COVID-19 app had been switched off since half-way through my Friday session at the BIC and only switched on again yesterday evening. It’s a mystery. The app should show where the contact happened or if you have been named as a contact. I am still tempted to delete the app and carry on with my trip to the Isle of Man departing Wednesday. My conscience gets the better of me and I check hotel and flights and find I can change to 18 August so I decide to do that. While I am considering my options British Airways cancels my flight to Verona on 23 August so that gives me more dates to play with. I cancel and re-book my hotel through Booking.com, no trouble. Flights are not so easy as I have to pay an additional £50 and then discover the extra I paid for Standard+ is not carried forward. I spend the rest of the day in the flat working on my article about Brownsea Island for West Country Bylines and cycling on my exercise bike.
Ministers urged not to create ‘complicated’ amber travel watchlist as it could put thousands of holidaymakers at risk of having to endure an enforced and expensive stay in hotel quarantine. Countries on this list could be put on the red list at short notice.
Johnson dumps ‘amber watchlist’ plan as it emerges top adviser has quit following the resignation of the chief of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (adviser on travel rules). Government sources now saying the prime minister will not go ahead with new amber watchlist.
Government U-turns over amber watchlist after Boris Johnson says the traffic light system rules should stay as ‘simple as possible’. Ministers have now abandoned plans to add a new “amber watchlist” category to the UK’s Covid travel rules.
Tuesday 03 August 2021
I wake up very early and as it looks like a nice morning I decide to go for ride on my bike. I leave just before 6 am and do three circuits of the spit. The sprinklers are on in the public garden and are spraying water over the cycle track so I have to take evasive action. The flowers do look amazing. As it is too nice to go straight back to the flat I lock up my bike and go for a walk. It is a beautiful, fresh morning. The boats bobbing on Poole Harbour are reflected in the dark water below them. And so is a juvenile sea gull perched on a rock below me.
I stroll along Sandbanks Beach – this morning a misty and ethereal landscape. I meet up with several people I got to know during the first lockdown over a year ago. I keep my distance and explain I have been pinged but had a negative rapid lateral flow test yesterday. Everyone is sympathetic and some wonder why I did not just delete the NHS app as I am fully vaccinated. But, I am aware, that only means that if I do contract the coronavirus my symptoms should not be so severe. I am also taking comfort in the thought that from 16 August anyone fully vaccinated who gets pinged will not have to self-isolate.
Calls for further easing of travel rules after abandonment of amber watchlist Boris Johnson faced fresh calls to ease international travel restrictions as Ministers accused of ‘U-turns and confusion’ over international travel rules
Holidaymakers left in dark over international travel rules After days of leaks and briefings from government on international travel rules, holidaymakers have been told to wait until Thursday for any clarity.
Wednesday 04 August 2021
Today is weekly shop day. In theory, I should not be going out to shop but in practice getting a food delivery at short notice is impossible. As I am not supposed to travel by public transport I leave the flat at 6.30 am on my bike in order to be at Sainsbury’s when it opens at 7 am. I arrive just after it opens and the store is practically empty. It does not take me long to get all the items on my list, pack them into my rucksack and set off back to the flat.
My route takes me through Poole Park. The flower beds are in full bloom and very impressive as they represent the three colours of the United Kingdom – red, white and blue.
Back at the flat, where I will spend the rest of the day, I realise that the camera I ordered four days ago has not been delivered yet. And, I had not had any notification regarding the delivery. I bought the camera from Jessops and when I called them to check the delivery address (the website is a bit confusing) I was told it did not matter if it went to the wrong address initially as I would be informed delivery had not been possible and I could change the delivery address then. I contact Jessops as I don’t have any details regarding the company making the delivery. The inform me the camera was delivered earlier today by DHL – to the flat in Hertfordshire. The report also stated I had signed for it which is interesting as I am 125 miles away from that address. The camera was eventually found on the ground outside my block of flats and rescued by another resident. Both Jessops and DHL refuse to take any responsibility. DHL offers to do a collection and re-delivery. This means someone at the flats would have to stay in all day awaiting the collection. I say this is not appropriate in the circumstances. So, my only option is to drive there and collect it.
Government has updated UK travel rules and some popular destinations are added to the green list and others go down to the red. The Government has also increased the price of hotel quarantine, meaning a trip to a red list country is an expensive affair. Seven countries will be added to England’s green travel list from 4am on Sunday.
Pfizer vaccine to be offered to 16 and 17-year-olds after new guidance issued All 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK are to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the government has confirmed, with the rollout of doses within this age group set to begin in the coming weeks.
Thursday 05 August 2021
I wake at 5.30 to a grey morning but I decide to go out on my bike anyway. After three circuits of the spit I lock my bike up and walk along the beach. I catch up with Rosmarie and we walk to the Haven Hotel where we sit on the wall and chat for a while. Clouds roll in and it looks like rain. I leave Rosmarie on the wall and walk back to my bike – briskly in case it does rain. After cycling back to the flat I put the bike away and walk to Tesco as I need some milk. There are very few people around and I am very quick and then return to the flat where I will spend the rest of the day. I enjoy my favourite breakfast - muesli with blueberries and banana – and then settle down to work. The early promise of bad weather is fulfilled and it gets cold, windy and wet as the day progresses. It is August yet it is too cold to have the patio door open and I need to put on extra layers to get warm.
This evening I enjoy the weekly firework display in Poole Harbour - from my bedroom window.
Live events to be covered by government-backed coronavirus insurance scheme A £750m insurance scheme backed by the government will be introduced in a bid to stop cancellations over COVID-19. Industry figures have long called for the government to step in after finding that insurers would not cover them for losses caused by the pandemic.
Calls for scrapping of ‘ambiguous’ amber list travel restrictions from the British Chamber of Commerce. It says the amber list - which covers Spain, Greece, Italy and the USA, to be joined on Sunday by France, the UAE and India - creates confusion at a time when businesses need “confidence and clarity” in order to recover from the pandemic.
PM and transport secretary defend travel changes as an airline has scheduled extra flights to return Britons from red-listed Mexico. Those who want to avoid quarantine will need to return before 04:00 BST on Sunday. The change was announced on Wednesday.
In the News Today
Bournemouth beach closed after 'large animal' spotted in sea and lifeguards instructed swimmers to leave the sea at Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth while they scanned the water on Wednesday. The RNLI said it received reports of "significant movement" in the water but lifeguards were unable to formally identify the animal.
Friday 06 August 2021
I have set my alarm early this morning to take the chain off for the bin men who can come any time between 6 and 7.30. As two other flats are currently occupied I creep downstairs at 05:45 to take the chain off the drive. The wind is roaring around the flats when I step outside. But the bin men don’t come this morning. There are white horses on Poole Harbour but it does not deter the kite boarders who are already filling their kites with air on the Kite Beach. I am meeting some friends at Compton Acres for coffee – wearing a mask and keeping a social distance. They do know I am self-isolating and will respect that. I walk briskly up the hill to Canford Cliffs. It is good to be out amongst friends again. Three of us stay on for a snack lunch. After that I go for a walk around the gardens. The bamboo patch is stunning – combination of tall bamboo and a sprinkling of exotic blooms. And then it is straight back to the flat where I spend the rest of the day. At least I have the Olympics on television to entertain me.
London nightclub owners warn vaccine passports will harm industry as London’s night scene faces a slower than expected return to normal. Proof of full vaccination will be required to enter night clubs from the end of September. But venue owners and industry leaders have called for more details as confusion over the current rules.
Early signs COVID-19 vaccines may not stop Delta transmission according to Public Health England as findings suggested those who have been vaccinated may be able to transmit the Delta variant of the virus as easily as those not vaccinated.
Too early to say if COVID booster needed as Germany, France press ahead as there is not enough data to recommend it the European Union's drugs regulator said on Friday, after major EU states said they will roll out a third dose for the most vulnerable from September.
Saturday 07 August 2021
I have a PCR test at the Creekmoor testing centre this morning. As I have been pinged for being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 I am eligible for this test. I booked a test for 8 am and I don’t have to wait long. I request an assisted test and swabbing the back of my throat makes me gag. After doing the test I drive the short distance to Creekmoor Ponds and have a walk around the two ponds surrounded by woods. This site was mined between 1920 and 1950 and the sand pits filled with water. It is both a nature reserve and a managed fishery. There is no-one around as I follow the narrow tree-lined paths that wind around the lakes. It feels a bit creepy and, even more so, when I come across a tent at the far end of the largest pond. During the coronavirus pandemic people have been camping everywhere regardless of restrictions in the area and facilities available. I turn back and on my way back to my car I see quite a few people walking their dogs and all of them bid me a friendly good morning.
When I get back to the flat I find the self-assembly shoe rack I ordered two days earlier has arrived. I put the rack together which takes longer than it should as, inevitably, it took two attempts. The first time I put two of the legs on the wrong way around. Once I had rectified that mistake I attached the two shelves upside down. No, I did not read the instructions first.
Pubs busy as most Covid regulations end in Wales and it moves to Covid alert level zero, meaning social distancing rules and most other restrictions have ended. Masks are still needed in shops, and First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people to be sensible.
Sunday 08 August 2021
I am woken by the wind howling at 3 am. I get up when my alarm goes off at 5 am. I make coffee and put it in my flask and then pack my rucksack – paper cups and oat and raisin cookies. My new friend has accepted the challenge of an early morning walk along the beach followed by breakfast – he is due to arrive at 6 am. The wind batters me as I sit outside waiting for him and dark clouds are rolling in. And, soon after we start walking it starts raining.
We shelter until the rain stops and then move on – to a rock in a sheltered spot – where we have a coffee. As we sit chatting I receive the result of my PCR test – negative. Today is my last day of self-isolation but now I have a negative test result and the bad weather means there are very few people around I see no reason to scuttle back to the flat and spend the rest of the day in splendid isolation. So I don’t. Instead we spend the day exploring the local area with stops for breakfast, ice-cream, afternoon tea and finally, pizza for supper. Perfect.
Red list: Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte added Georgia, Mexico and the French overseas territories of La Réunion and Mayotte have been downgraded from amber to red in the latest reshuffle of the government’s traffic light lists for international travel.
Hundreds beat Mexico ‘red list’ deadline as travel rules change and their Mexican adventures were cut short. They arrived 80 minutes ahead of the 4am deadline – after which they would have had to go into hotel quarantine.
In the News Today
Army on standby to restock Britain’s shelves amid truck driver shortage and military HGV drivers are prepped to deliver food and essentials to supermarkets amid the truck driver shortage. No formal request has yet been received by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Demoting Rishi Sunak would be Boris Johnson’s political ‘death warrant’, allies warn after a close ally of the Chancellor has warned in an escalation of tensions. The Prime Minister was reported to have made a barbed joke about moving Mr Sunak to the role of Health Secretary in a meeting last week – claims Number 10 did not deny on Sunday.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 02 August, a total of 5,902,354 (total that day 21,952) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 129,743 including a daily total of 24. By the end of the week on Sunday 08 August, the total of positive cases had risen to 6,069,362 (total that day 27,429) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 130,320 including a daily total of 39. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 153,734, an increase this week of 392. (this statistic lags behind the daily statistics as it is updated on a weekly basis).
More next week
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.