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Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
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Tom Burgess
Features Writer
3:41 PM 18th September 2020

Covid. All Over By Christmas?

As Covid numbers climb to 4,000 new cases a day, two days in a row, the country is bracing for further local lockdowns. The government doesn’t wish to have a second national lockdown but there is a suggestion of a two-week lockdown to curb the numbers of newly recorded infections. There are going to be new local lockdowns enforced in most of Lancashire (other than parts of Blackpool) following the implementation of measures in the North East. These local lockdowns are an attempt to bring cases under control again to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

In a local lockdown the additional measures in place include restaurants, bars and pubs closing at 10pm. Household mixing is prohibited, whether that is inside or outside. There are exceptions to these rules for extreme circumstances including house moving, giving birth and imminent death among others. If you are on your own and part of another bubble then you would still be able to visit others. If you are unsure of what you are or are not allowed to do whilst in a local lockdown there is a helpful page on the government website: (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/north-west-of-england-local-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do).

On top of these local restrictions there is the new rule of six. This effectively means that you cannot be in gatherings of more than six in public or in private. There are exceptions if your household is larger than that but you cannot go out in public in a group larger than six, even in a family group. You can still visit cinemas, restaurants and cafes where there may be more than six people present as long as you stay in a group of fewer than six. These measures are all focused on maintaining the essentials of education, business and work.

Christmas is not just vital for the nation's economy but we all need Christmas for morale and cheery festivity. It has been a difficult year for all of us and the possibility that Christmas may be hindered with further lockdowns or family members stranded around the country is worrying. There is the hope of the Oxford vaccine on the horizon though, as testing was resumed in the UK on the 12th September. Vaccines have several stages to pass through before approval and mass distribution with both the Oxford and Imperial College vaccines at the last stage before approval. They are being tested against a placebo in test groups numbering in the thousands. This stage cannot be hurried as side effects need to be discovered before vulnerable citizens are exposed to the vaccine.

Next week students across the country will be returning to universities. This combined with work and schools will inevitably create a spike in cases, but the new measures are likely to curb the worst excesses. Winter is unfortunately also going to be a factor as there will be other colds and flus going around, which will add to the toll of anyone who catches Covid.

As we wait for a vaccine, the best thing that we can all do is follow government guidance, support the vulnerable around us, and stand together (just not too close together…).