Isolation diary update: Wondering about what comes next

Don’t kill Granny” – well, thanks, Matt Hancock, I appreciate your concern for me.

When you gave that advice ten days ago, the infection rate stood at around 3000 per day. It is now 4000, and hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 are beginning to follow, with the usual three week time lag. The last time the UK had that rate of infection was at the beginning of April, well into lockdown. So what is your advice today to the grannies (and grandpas) to avoid being killed? Pardon? I can’t hear you…

We all know that the vast majority of deaths are of people who fall into the vulnerable or extremely vulnerable categories. The latter group, who were advised to shield through lockdown, have been enjoying six weeks of more relaxed living, but are now justifiably pretty anxious again.

Shielding officially ended at the end of July although we were allowed to go out for exercise during the previous month. But life hasn’t changed very much for me and my husband. We enjoy walks out in the countryside, but avoid the town. We have discovered, not that far from our home, several areas of wood and heath, and, amazingly, three lakes (including the one in the photo) which we didn’t know existed.

One day we booked into a National Trust garden near us and sat outside the cafe for tea and cake, unexpectedly qualifying for Eat Out to Help Out.

I have been into shops on four occasions, although my husband hasn’t yet, and we have each had medical and dental appointments. And – oh joy – I even visited the hairdresser. A few friends have popped in, one at a time, for a socially distanced chat in the garden. And we briefly met up with the grandchildren again.

With a second spike on its way, you might expect the Government to be giving us some advice, but it hasn’t. At the moment it is only focusing on the economy and schools, so we have been forgotten. Of course, we know what we need to do to keep safe, and I expect many people in our position will be at least partly self-isolating again.

The problem is that many of the services that supported shielding have now been run down. Whilst we can still get priority deliveries in the supermarkets, the Government food boxes stopped six weeks ago, and community initiatives tailed off. In our case, we have support networks in place and are not in need, but others are not so fortunate. Unless the Government flags it up, some people are going to find the second spike rather more challenging than the first.



You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Tony Greaves 17th Sep '20 - 5:36pm

    Buy a 2½” map! Actually the attitude of the Government towards families in general has been a disgrace. An assumption that they will cope won’t they, a lack of understanding of all the issues facing people locked down (or locked up) for ages – from single people of all ages to large families, in all kinds of accommodation. Any attempt to impose a new general hard lock-down will be a disaster (and widely flouted). Lots of very worried and highly distressed people on the one hand, and very angry people on the other. It is a recipe for widespread social discontent. And all because the Government is incompetent and can’t organise a proper and thorough system of testing, tracing and isolating.

  • Not sure why people need the govn to tell them what to do, I continue to avoid doctors, dentists and hairdressers, have not been in a pub or restaurant and am astonished, for instance, that the bakers in supermarkets do not wear masks and continue to spit and cough over their products (I do miss fresh rolls!). I do not understand why workers in shops don’t need to be masked and gloved.

    The tourist invasion on the south coast a disaster in the making, with beaches overcrowded, shops a battleground of masked raiders and the roads back to being jammed packed with cars.

    I do agree the govn does lack imagination, having printed a huge amount of dosh they seem to be clueless on how to use it in a clever manner, other than throwing it at people they hope will vote for them at the next election. For instance they could have rolled all the bank holidays into the Xmas-NY period and had that as a two week lock-down period without having much economic effect on the country.

  • John Marriott 18th Sep '20 - 8:19am

    I fear it might be chaos, Mary. One of my young granddaughters, living in Manchester, is now in isolation as someone in her ‘bubble’ at school has COVID. My two sons had a lively discussion on our family WhatsApp chat on the merits of herd immunity. One, who has two young children in school here in Lincolnshire, is all for letting it rip, the other doesn’t want to die or get left with complications. He would rather be safe than sorry. As his wife, who works in the NHS, added, 44,000 people die from sepsis every year and, as for diseases like cancer, where treatment has been delayed.

    I have to say that I think, like a Frank West, that holiday makers, particularly those recently returned from abroad, have played a significant rôle in the COVID comeback. If you ask me, skiers returning from Europe last February, together with those ill advised sporting events around the same time, probably kickstarted it in the first place.

    I had my first volunteer library session yesterday since we reopened last week (face masks, hand sanitisers and perspex screens for the staff and ‘ klick and collect’ for the punters) and one of my colleagues, who had just returned from a short holiday in Cornwall, said that it had been, in his words, “mayhem” with little mask wearing and social distancing almost non existent.

    I don’t know about herd immunity. It seems, for many people, to be more about HERD MENTALITY!

  • Shut the pubs and put Universities on line as much as possible.
    However there have been some helpful gains. Now, as compared to the time of the first lock down,. more deliveries, mean the Stores and shops are quiet empty, and in comparison to previous times much safer, with 99% mask wearing. I agree with Frank, shop staff too should be masked. I was born in the war, wont say which year, and have shopped, recommenced work in mid May when the position eased, attend the local baths and Dobbies, where social distancing is brilliant.. For a month a so, one major problem I have encountered, have been youngsters under 25, who always seem to be in groups of varying sizes. They were brilliant during the lock down but since then many appear, to have lost their responsibility. However if you challenge them and say do you want to kill your parents and grandparents they break up. But it does not stop there, my work takes me into peoples homes, even when the full lockdown was still on, I recall a couple of times neighbours just walking in, no social distancing, “Okay Bert” and proceed to sit down for the afternoon. I and my colleague sent them away, they were very unhappy, seeminglly unaware of, or n ot caring about the restrictions. Colleagues can count many , many instances of similar irresponsibility. A local pub had a rope line one meter from the bar, nobody had to cross the line. By 10.00pm the actual bar unit was itself jammed full of people, the rope on the floor. So many pubs have not restricted numbers. It goes on and on. Too many stories to repeat here. We would go on all night. It seems a crucial group of people will comply with a full lockdown, but not the partial ones. A real dilemma.
    One final thought if you do not wear a mask, a deliberate decision, do not social distance and it is shown have given the virus out to others, could you be guilty of attempted manslaughter. Just a thought. I am not the frirst person to mention this.

  • John Marriott 18th Sep '20 - 9:33am

    In case anyone may think that there could be domestic warfare in a Manchester, I should add that it’s my ‘herd immunity’ son’s wife here in Lincolnshire, who works for the NHS.

    Just one more thing. Please UK government, just cut out the hyperbole. If we really are going to get on top of this, it’s not a “world beating”/“oven ready” contact and trace system we need, it’s one that bloody well WORKS!

  • Steve: only max of six can go in a house. I many areas now no-one other than the householder can enter. You miss the point. The virus circulates in the crowded pubs and is brought out into homes and other places. It’s that simple. Shut the pubs.

  • richard underhill.,. 18th Sep '20 - 2:35pm

    Tony Greaves 17th Sep ’20 – 5:36pm
    Let’s work on developing a sense of humour. Conference is a useful platform. Even parliament is a possible venue. Today’s Guardian page 16 column 5 asks about the financial advantages of appointing Chris Grayling to advise. They may have had a contest among their staff for the best answer but others might be possible. Remember that this column has rules.

  • richard underhill.,. 18th Sep '20 - 2:52pm

    18th Sep ’20 – 2:35pm
    Boris Johnson has a sense of humour, which may he useful to him at fundraising meetings with suitably biased audiences. Please note that column 5 ends with “Johnson sought to install Grayling as chair of the powerful intelligence and security committee in July.” Therefore this answer has already been used.
    John Major was advised that it was not possible to lose a bye election in Ribble Valley, which he confirmed in his memoirs.
    Does anyone know about the “Idle Toad” party?
    Is this a reference to the appointment of an MP to ministerial duties to fill a perceived need by Mrs. Thatcher to appoint a hanger and flogger and an actual need to promote him to lead the Conservatives in the House of Lords?

  • richard underhill.,. 18th Sep '20 - 3:08pm

    Mary Reid | Thu 17th September 2020 – 5:00 pm
    I also qualified for subsidised food.
    Getting home afterwards I wrote to my local MP (Con) about the Fire Brigade pumping water into the village pond. He replied promptly ” I will inquire.”
    He also replied to my question about whether he supports for Theresa May’s speech in the Commons. He has voted for the bill and looks forward to amendments on some paragraphs at a later date.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Sep '20 - 4:21pm

    Agree with mary, colleagues.

    Shut pubs, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, skating rinks,

    No more than immediate family or friends in a handful.

    No foreign travel unless emergency.

    work from home in every situation possible, discourage all offices becoming opened.

    social distance in all circumstances unless with those we live with.

    All this, without test, trace, virus reduced. With both as well, virus beaten!

    Free from a virus, not free to be sick. Free to be together when able to be so. Not free for all as if this wasn’t so.

    Sounds like my kind of freedom and Liberalism!

  • Peter Hirst 18th Sep '20 - 5:19pm

    Shielding, supporting and protecting the vulnerable should be our main concern until they can be vaccinated. This means testing all those who come into contact with them frequently. Of course, this cannot be forced and so to some extent their isolation from infections is up to them. The resources however to help them do so should be of primary concern.

  • John Marriott 18th Sep '20 - 7:16pm

    We got the R level down and it was tough. We relaxed the lockdown and many people felt that they had done their bit and now it was party time. The phrase “back to normal” was often promised. However, what IS the new “normal” now?

    You can blame the government if you want. I think that certain members of the public are equally to blame, unless, of course, you subscribe to the theory of herd immunity. If you don’t want to aim for immunity then I really can’t see any alternative but to do as you are told and pray that an effective vaccine might appear by next year.

  • Im getting sick and tired of hearing young people complaining that the Government is trying to stop them from enjoying their lives and having fun, especially since they are at such low risk of getting seriously ill from the virus.

    What has happened to our youth? Where have we gone wrong in raising such self-centred , inconsiderate generation??

    I just had a run in with my 18 year old niece who is a passionate climate change activist, who has been arguing for years that adults of our generation have a duty to address climate change and protect the earth for her generation and it is our responsibility to act now ( I happen to agree)
    But I was astounded at her attitude during this crisis when she has the attitude that Covid is not dangerous to her generation and the Government should stop imposing restrictions on her generation that prevents them from having fun whilst they are young.

    To say I was astounded is an understatement.
    So it is middle aged and elderly adults responsibilty to address climate change to protect the young, but the same young do not want to address the global emergency that is covid in order to protect the elderly and those in their twilight years.

    The younger generation are not prepared to give up a few months of fun or even a Year, if that is what it takes to beat covid, in order to give those that are in their final years of life a few more years without living in constant fear or succumbing to covid and an awful death.

    I hope my nieces attitude is not relflective of the wider younger generation, but from what I am hearing from within my own quaters and in the media, I am quite alarmed

  • The measures haven’t actually worked. Six months in and all they have really done is destroy civil society. Close this, close that, stand here, stand there. This isn’t following something called “the science”. It’s just playing to our government’s delusion of control, effectively neutering parliament and adding to public hysteria for no good reason. The increase in testing is just proving that (a) it is simply not the deadly plague it was hyped up to be which is why most of the cases are mild or asymptomatic and (b) the great lockdown achieved nothing which is why they are revealing new cases. What is called the “r-rate” is a computer model that goes up when you feed any new information about social activity into it. But some people just love control, the sense of being involved in a national effort and telling others off. It’s grotesque authoritarianism turned into a bad habit through the pretence of doing a public good. It’s also a self perpetuating shambles and the biggest self-inflicted disaster in history.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Sep '20 - 7:31am

    @Matt – 18th Sep ’20 – 8:38pm
    I share your concerns and views on this.

    Having a good time is bottom of the agenda right now.

  • John Marriott 19th Sep '20 - 9:46am

    I’m afraid that your niece’s attitude is all too typical of the current crop of youngsters – and whose fault is that. Mind you, my dad said the same about me in the 1960s. “Plus ça change….” as they say.
    I wondered when you would be tossing your conspiracy theories back into the ring. Now, you may be right about the potency of the virus and about just letting it rip. However, the lockdowns do not represent in my opinion a cynical attempt at authoritarian state control, that most nations espoused in a genuine attempt to cut the legs off COVID-19. They certainly worked while rigidly enforced. Crude, yes, but effective in the short term. When the brakes were taken off, however, it was human behaviour, which played a massive rôle in its comeback. So, are you wearing a mask when out and about and sticking to social distancing? In fact, are you doing as you have been told? If not, then, if you want to see the reason why we still haven’t got this virus under control, just look in your mirror!

  • John Marriot
    I don’t believe in conspiracies. I believe in hysteria, cock ups and the refusal governments to admit to them. Six months on with not a sign of success and you are still convinced that Matt Hancock can halt microbes by banning teenagers from dancing, making dental care virtually impossible and protecting the NHS from ill people!

  • Glenn – have you any idea of the impact of your comments on people like me? I know I could die if I caught it, and it appears you wouldn’t be bothered if that were to happen. There is plenty of evidence that Covid-19 is a very serious threat to older people and to those who are clinically vulnerable. Are you seriously suggesting that isn’t true? And that people like me should simply resume normal life?

  • Interesting post by John Marriott about his discussions with about herd immunity which is as much a part of science as gravity is.

    Basically if/when we get to herd immunity that is the point when the pandemic is over as a pandemic (although could continue as a seasonal virus).

    If/when we get to herd immunity it would be safer for people most at risk from the virus.

    Therefore you could argue that people going about their normal lives are in fact selfless not selfish – they are risking catching the virus so that others don’t have to.

    There has been all this focus on what happens if people pass the virus on to granny but not enough focus on what happens if they catch it and don’t pass it on to granny – they help to build immunity.

    Time to reset the narrative in my view and shift from talking about “killing granny” to “building immunity to protect granny”.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Sep '20 - 11:17am

    2 points to add to Mary Reid’s comment at 19th Sep ’20 – 10:49am……

    France is currently at a stage where the UK will be shortly.
    “The use of hospital beds by Covid-19 patients in the French city of Marseille is “close to saturation” amid a sharp spike in infections.”
    “Doctors and researchers are finding that this coronavirus — officially called SARS-CoV-2—can also cause severe and lasting harm in other organs, including the heart and kidneys. C. John Sperati, M.D., M.H.S., an expert in kidney health, discusses how the new coronavirus might affect kidney function as the illness develops and afterward as a person recovers…..”

    Bottom line – we still don’t know anywhere near enough about the long-term impact (on peoples’ lives and on medical facilities) of this virus to dismiss it out of hand as Glenn appears to do.

  • “There is plenty of evidence that Covid-19 is a very serious threat to older people and to those who are clinically vulnerable.”

    Yes of course they are the most at risk group and everyone I have spoken to who has doubts about lockdown and associated measures agrees that every effort should go in to protecting those most vulnerable and I’m sure that includes Glenn as well.

    A progressive response to Covid is to take a “whole harms” approach and look at the needs of all marginalised people and people at risk from non Covid illnesses. We are not all equal in terms of our ability to deal with the impact of lockdown and suppression measures.

  • May Reid
    I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, but I stand by my comments. I don’t want anyone to die. I just do not see how the societal wreckage is actually saving lives or ever will. I’ve got relatives who are clinically vulnerable (diabetes in one case) . One who has spent months avoiding hospitals and found out the boil on their face was in fact skin cancer leading reconstructive surgery . I’m not a pensioner, but I’m not that young either and I’m being treated for hypertension.

    I do not see how banning activities we’re not involved in does anything to save anyone

  • John Marriott 19th Sep '20 - 12:02pm

    You haven’t really answered my question. Are you taking your lead from that pandemic expert, Mr Noel Gallagher, and saying “b******S to COVID“ by going maskless into shops etc and kissing your friends?

    And yes, I know that your ‘name’ ends with two ‘n’s’, just like my real name ends with two ‘tt’s’.

  • John Marriott
    You didn’t ask a question. You were and are just flinging insults. But since you sort of asked. No, I stick the rules under duress. If I didn’t there would no point in arguing with them. There is nothing more ridiculous than complaining about the injustice and irrational nature of laws you don’t obey.
    I missed the other out T by mistake and because I’m a terrible typist. It’s not deliberate.

  • John Marriott 19th Sep '20 - 4:39pm

    Look at my post at 9.46am this morning, which I addressed to ‘matt’ AND yourself. I asked you three questions, the last one being “.. are you doing as you have been told?”. What do you mean “sort of asked”? Surely ending two sentences with question marks ought to be asking a question. Well, at least now we know.

    If you were sincere in your opposition to what you consider tantamount to coercion you would surely do what Noel Gallagher says he is doing. Or perhaps you would rather follow his erstwhile band’s advice and “start a revolution from my bed”? After all, we are told that “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

    PS No need to answer the last question; but feel free to comment.

  • John Marriott
    I answered your questions despite the manner they were asked. That’s what I meant by “sort of”.
    I never liked Oasis and I have zero interest in celebrity news.

  • John Marriott 19th Sep '20 - 6:41pm

    Well, Glenn, I guess you ‘sort of’ told me where to go. However, if you put your above the parapet, don’t be surprised if you get short at!

  • @ John Marriott

    I think what Glenn said is that he follows the rules under duress whilst arguing against them and persuading “like-minded” people of the case. This is what I do too. You cant get much more civic minded than that.

    (In complete contrast to those people who say they support all of the measures and do all the virtue signalling stuff on social media then go out and disregard any rules they find inconvenient).

  • I went to the local John Lewis last Friday for the first time since lockdown. I went because they had recently reopened the in-store cafe and having a cup of tea and a piece of cake there had been a regular – if small – treat. The place was deserted. During my short visit I was spoken to (pleasantly) by more than 10 members of staff who appeared to have nothing much to do. “What comes next” appears to be the death of the High Street.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '20 - 9:38am

    @Glenn @Marco
    Hey, guys, perhaps I was being a bit hard on poor old Glenn. After all, when it comes to free speech I’m very much with Voltaire.

    However, I’ve got some good news for Glenn about that rule of 6 at least. Apparently it doesn’t apply to grouse shooting. So, there you are, get that shotgun cleaned, get some ammo and head up north ASAP. Mind you, doesn’t that say a lot about Cummings’ Britain?

  • John Marriot
    I’m vegan.

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '20 - 6:17pm

    And I’m being ironic. Enjoy your nuts!

  • “Apparently it doesn’t apply to grouse shooting. So, there you are, get that shotgun cleaned, get some ammo and head up north ASAP”.

    No, thanks, John. Entry is by passport only, plus a Dido test with ten day wait) at Berwick and Gretna. We’re a bit choosy.

  • John Marriott 22nd Sep '20 - 9:26am

    @David Raw
    If Glenn is anything to go by, it would seem that vegans not only appear to lack a sense of humour but also appear to take everything literally. I should preface this observation by saying that it may not apply to all vegans! Stay safe and keep popping those pills!

  • John Marriott
    I got that it was supposed to be humorous. It just wasn’t very funny so I gave it the flat answer it I thought it disserved. Like if someone said something like “my dog has no nose” and you say something back like “That must be so distressing. I remember when my cat lost an eye “.

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