My world just got a little bit smaller once again. For a while now the COVID statistics on the eastern fringes of London have been on the rise, to the point that they have become much higher than areas that were already in Tier 3. It was inevitable that something was going to change, and from midnight tonight Redbridge and the surrounding boroughs out into Essex enter Tier 3. This spells the end of my regular trips to the bowling alley, and no more restaurant and pubs visits, although I can keep going to the gym....
I am not going to opine on the merits or otherwise of how various activities have been chosen. For our family of five there will be no appreciable difference. We have been doing none of these things and had no plans to. The schools of course remain open, under threat of legal action. I don't see the point other than perhaps for kids who have trouble at home and for whom school is a place of safety. My recollection of the week before the Christmas holidays was that we just watched videos and larked about. Perhaps modern education is different? Apparently mass testing is to occur at all secondary schools in the area but of this we have seen no sign. By the time these mobile testing units arrive they may not find any pupils to test - my kids report class numbers well down already as kids are simply being withdrawn by parents to allow for more isolated time to pass before visiting grandparents. Of course if those grandparents live in an area lower than Tier 3 then this may be a pointless precaution as you cannot (or should not) travel outside of a Tier 3 area if you live inside one. Of course we had no plans to visit our aged relatives anyway, so this is another 'whatever' as far as we are concerned.
Ironically enough my world may have actually got a little larger rather than smaller, after all this is not a lockdown at the moment. The advice not to travel into Tier 3 zones if you lived outside them meant that the whole of Kent was in theory out of bounds for Londoners. However if Tier 3 is now a much larger contiguous area then perhaps my boundaries have increased in some way. Dungeness here I come! This new zone also stretches well into Essex and encompasses some extremely pleasant birding sites that would be excellent for my mental wellbeing. Suffolk and Norfolk are entirely outside sadly, but if Kent is on the menu again I think I can likely cope with that, for a while at least.
There is no talk of when these new restrictions may be scaled back, no doubt it will be 100% correlated with the Government's desire to get people back on the streets and spending money. Sorry that was a crass typo, what I meant was 100% correlated with a fall in infection rates, hospital admissions and death.
On a slightly different yet related note it is coming up to the time of year when I might normally start thinking about "The Year in Review" - you know, those lengthy posts where I write about what a fun year I have had, lavishly illustrated with bird photos and so on. They usually sink without trace in late December. Best trip is looking like a hard category this year! I may plough on regardless, this blog functions in part as a diary, and when I look back at the highs and lows it is important to have recorded both. Here's a reminder of a high, an Oriental Magpie Robin taken in Singapore's Botanic Garden in March 2019. I doubt whether my 2020 archives have anything as glorious, but I would still hope to be able to pick out some of the enjoyment that has come my way - this year has been a stretch for sure, but it has not been without its moments.