10 November 20
Posted at 4:25
Beamish Living Museum
The image captures two realities of late summer 2020 in the UK. Wearing masks is compulsory as is social distancing (resulting in queues for everything). Both are intended to limit the tramsmission of the virus.
This photograph was taken in early September when along with some friends we took a weeks break on the Northumberland coast. We still had to break some rules to do that (six of us lived in one cottage for the week, strictly speaking that was not allowed at the time). We had to journey there in three separate cars. Eating out or visiting a pub or café was something of a chore and impersonal. We probably felt more comfortable in our cottage self catering and isolating in our, albeit illegal, bubble. Bizarre when you consider it. We did though enjoy the wide open spaces, the wild beaches and national parks. We had fun together as friends, something that had been all but impossible since February.
That limited freedom now seems like a distant memory as we are now six days into a further months lockdown. Different from the first lockdown in that schools and universities have remained open. It also doesn’t feel as serious as the first lockdown but all forms of hospitality and all non-essential shops are closed. Hospitalisations and deaths are rising again although deaths are not yet at the level seen in the Spring. It is Autumn now though, the days are shorter, the weather damp and chilly so it feels tougher.
Over the last few days there has been reason for hope and optimism. First of all in the USA elections Donald Trump has lost the presidency, to the joy of the vast majority globally. At this point Donald is not about to go quietly, he refutes the outcome and is using the legal system to query the result. The same legal system of judges that he has packed with his own cronies over the last couple of years. So the world looks on in anticipation. It is unlikely he will be successful but over recent months we have become used to the unlikely actually happening.
Yesterday we received the second good news, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer has exited phase three of its testing with positive results. As ever the media has reacted disproportionately implying that it may even be rolled out by Christmas (it won’t be). I suppose it is nice to have some good news but we really do have a long way to go before we get out of this pandemic. Just last week it was discovered in Denmark that Covid had first of all spread into their vast mink population but now had mutated into a form transmitted back from mink to humans. The mink are now being exterminated (as happened in Spain earlier in the year), travel from Denmark to other countries, well at least the UK, is banned. Mink are bred in three or four EU countries for export to China for the fur trade, banned for instance in the UK years ago. So animals, or animal products, from a species that has been infected with Coronavirus and has mutated a strain back to humans is being exported to a country where a mutated form of Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans kicking off this whole global pandemic. There is an irony there!
Of course the vaccine developed is unlikely to have an impact on a mutated version spread to humans from mink or any other animal.