Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Give us a break.Open and shut cases

Which would you prefer?...Portugal or
United Kingdom
"Always enjoy your foodie posts,less so the attempts at political commentary..." 
By way of a let out clause I dont profess to be a social media afficionado,but sometimes my rants take me further than just the "culinary ramblings" cited at the top of this blogsite.I find myself therefore, particularly in the light of what is happening in the world right now, to be in need of a platform to air views other than my uncontrollable passion for food.I´m not an instagrammer or Facebookista or any of that malarkey so when I speak out other than about recipes and foodie goss I find myself in a position of moderator for comments such as the one above.
Cut off by quarantine impositions from cheap trips to popular overseas destinations, those in the UK planning a holiday when Covid-19 lockdown measures eased in July were "encouraged" by "Prime Minister" Johnson to enjoy their own, sometimes overlooked, holiday hotspots.Brits have unadvisedly however also been permitted to venture abroad,with those traveling to countries identified on a coronavirus "safe" list exempted from quarantine on their return.But really what was the point? as soon as they have arrived at their chosen holiday destination they were given less than 24 hours to back their bags and return home as the Uk government suddenly got cold feet and changed the rules.Why not just close the borders and put an embargo on airlines flying.
Portugal is the “ only country on UK travel blacklist” where virus numbers fall below EU average… But still there is no let up in the draconian policy of British holidaymakers to Portugal requiring to go into self-isolation for 14 days on their return home.The fact that the British government doggedly refuses to recognise Portugal’s progress – from registering ‘infection rates that were deemed too high’ to rates now that are  below the EU average – has already resulted in widespread ‘mutiny’.British nationals are holidaying here regardless of their government’s travel advice,many of them refusing to go into quarantine on their return ( A typical "I´m alright Jack" Gung -ho British attitude )– and even Portugal’s own tourism board has mounted a ‘safe holidays’ campaign on a British television channel Channel 5 to run from next week until  the end of October.
The feeling that Britain has dealt extraordinarily unfairly with Portugal runs across the board, particularly when they cant even manage their own test and trace situation at home.
And on Saturday Portugal´s Expresso found a perfect example of why people suspect Boris Johnson’s government has something against this country by running the headline: 

“Portugal is the only country on Britain’s ‘travel blacklist’ where case numbers are below the European average”

Britain’s ‘official reason’ for still refusing to allow Brits to holiday with restrictions here now appears to be that “it could be a gamble”: Portugal’s numbers could suddenly spike, so it’s better to keep the country ‘out in the cold’ than allow British nationals to potentially get caught in another mad scramble to get back home before the sliding doors of a newly-constructed travel corridor come crashing shut on them.
But that’s failing to interpret other data: like the fact that there are less and less people being admitted to hospital in Portugal these days; less and less cases in intensive care; less deaths (ergo more recoveries) – and of course, a high level of testing.

“For the last two or even three weeks, no one understands why a British air corridor doesn’t open. If it doesn’t open now, when will it open? Are they waiting for zero cases? No country will have zero cases. Indeed what’s happening in Europe seems to be the opposite of what’s going on in Portugal”
President Marcelo talking to reporters while on holiday in the Algarve on Saturday

Britain’s unbending approach – beyond the anger and frustration it has caused – seems to have elicited another emotion: ‘fear’. 

"the way the government has been dealing with ‘travel corridors’ has now made most people “too frightened to go anywhere”.

Last week’s ‘travel corridor closure nightmare’ affected holidaymakers in a number of destinations, including the Netherlands, Malta, Monaco – and less surprisingly France. 
But the damage it has done for the travel industry in general – which has been trying desperately to make up for lost time –  is incalculable.
Meantime, the British Telegraph – often viewed as one of the papers ‘closest to the Conservative government’ – is predicting the next travel corridors to come crashing down will be those currently enjoyed by Greece and Ireland.
And there is seemingly no ‘good news’ in the air for Portugal… though the British Times on Sunday did carry a very positive article on the ‘most spectacular autumn breaks’ available, predicting that the country is “moving ever closer to casting off the shackles of quarantine”.Don´t hold out for that one.
The same with Spain, which usually attracts 18 million British tourists each year, hastily withdrawn from the list because of a virus resurgence and France, another popular destination, being dropped from the list this last weekend, the demand for UK holidays has apparently skyrocketed.
Johnson, who himself is said to be planning a two-week stay in Scotland, has advised people to visit "peerless, wonderful, superlative places in the UK," rather than heading abroad.But where do they go?


Think before discarding your mask
We see pictures of beaches strewn with waste( above), wild campers destroying fragile habitats, warnings from  increasingly overstretched coastguards, unaffordable accommodations. What was supposed to have been a Great British summer has, for many, become a "staycation" nightmare.Give them a break please.
The result has been clogged roads, emergency incidents on the most popular stretches of coastline, a rise in travel scams and soaring prices for accommodation.
Even before peak summer was underway, there were signs of trouble.
When the last weekend of June saw the UK swelter in a 30 C (86 F) heatwave, an estimated half a million people headed to Dorset, a coastal region in southern England, as lockdown restrictions frayed.
Emergency services in the Dorset resort town of Bournemouth declared a major incident. The local council issued a record 558 parking fines. A massive 33 tons of waste were collected along the Dorset coastline, including human excrement and soiled diapers.
Further east, in the popular coastal city of Brighton, a place similarly blighted by alarmingly sized crowds leaving behind piles of trash, concerned residents began taking matters into their own hands.
For all these issues, the heart of the problem is still a lack of clear communication from politicians. People are told by the government to go to these places and spend money, that it's their duty to help save the economy, but they're traveling with no guidance.
 Rather than barrack people, the government should empower them and instil some confidence. There are so many mixed messages, people are stir crazy and want to get out, but the government needs to say how to do it and do it responsibly."
And of course, that great British institution of going to the pub isn't  the same breezy experience as it was before the pandemic. As with everything in this brave new world, there are rules. Forty-six pages of them, apparently. Those inevitably mean confusion, and potential for further chaos.England has one of the world's worst Covid death rates.Will it now drink itself into chaos? Many people I am sure ,are trying to cram a break in before a potential second national lockdown, a prospect the UK government has downplayed despite new cases hovering around 1,000 a day.Escaping the crowds without having to board a flight and risk 14 days of self-isolation when getting back to the UK is certainly possible with clear guidance.
One thing's for certain though -- heading to the UK's south coast beaches, so called English Riviera,busier national parks or the lake district  is unlikely to afford the sense of escape that so many crave after months of sitting at home growing bored.

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