A Date That Will Live in Infamy
So today is mask day, a new low in the lockdown era. But rather than depress readers by linking to the BBC’s ridiculously upbeat guide to face coverings, I thought I’d confine myself to a few glimmers of hope. For instance, some supermarkets and coffee shops have said they won’t enforce the new rules. According to the Mail:
Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee have said they will not police new coronavirus laws which force customers to wear face masks in all shops from today.
The major retailers say they have no intention of enforcing new rules which will punish people who refuse to cover their faces with a £100 fine.
In addition, the director of public affairs at Co-Op has said it isn’t the job of the supermarket chain’s employees to enforce the rules and the Association of Convenience Stores has advised its members not to challenge any customers without face coverings.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph has a list of places where masks are not required:
- Restaurants and pubs with table service
- Hairdressers and treatment salons unless specified by the venue
- Gyms and leisure centres
- Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
- Heritage sites
- If you are exempt from wearing a mask
And here’s the Telegraph‘s list of who’s exempt:
- A child under the age of 11
- An employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
- A constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
- An emergency response member of staff, such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
- An official such as a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
- If you are on board public transport but remain in your own vehicle, such as a car ferry
- Other legitimate exemptions listed include those with a disability or a physical or mental illness, and anyone travelling with a deaf person who relies on lip reading to communicate.
- Wearers are also permitted to remove them if it is necessary to avoid harm or injury, as well as to eat or drink if required, to take medication, or if a police officer or other official requests you to do so.
- Customers in shops will also be allowed to remove them if they are required to present identification for purchasing alcohol and other age-restricted products.
And for four-eyed folks like me, here’s the Telegraph‘s advice on stopping your glasses steaming up if you’re wearing a mask.
Wales Bans Newspapers on Public Transport
Determined not to be outdone by England’s draconian mask rules, the Welsh Government has gone one step further. According to its recent public transport guidance, not only will travellers have to wear face masks from July 27th, they won’t be able to chat on the phone, eat or drink, must remain in “relative silence” and cannot read newspapers! Who knew reading newspapers could spread the virus? Oh, and you’re not allowed to run for the bus because the virus can be transmitted by “breathing heavily”.
The lunatics really have taken over the asylum in Wales.
Another Victory for the Free Speech Union
The Free Speech Union has helped a victim of cancel culture get his job back. Here’s the story, as reported by Guido Fawkes yesterday.
Nick Buckley MBE, who was ousted as chief executive of his own charity last month following some mild criticisms of the Black Lives Matter manifesto, is back in charge thanks to the Free Speech Union. As of today, the trustees who fired him have all resigned, new trustees have been appointed and Nick has been re-appointed as CEO of Mancunian Way, the award-winning charity he founded in 2011. Nick was sacked after an article he posted on Linked-In attracted controversy, including a Change.org petition demanding his head. In spite of the fact that the petition only attracted 465 signatures – and Nick himself founded Mancunian Way – the trustees terminated the charity’s service level agreement with Nick’s company within a week of the petition being launched.
Luckily, Nick is a member of the Free Speech Union. It got behind a counter-petition, which has attracted over 17,500 signatures, and found Nick a top flight solicitor in the form of Keystone Law’s Geoffrey Davies, an expert on charity law. After Geoffrey discovered some irregularities in the process the trustees had followed, and pointed these out to them, they agreed to resign. They have now been replaced by three new trustees, appointed by Nick. And Nick is now back at the helm.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the FSU, tells Guido: “I’m delighted Nick has been reappointed to the charity that he founded and which has done so much to help disadvantaged young people in Manchester. No one should lose their livelihood at the behest of a left-wing outrage mob. Nick’s sacking was an example of cancel culture at its worst and I’m pleased that the FSU and Geoffrey Davies have been able to get him his job back.”
And they would have got away with if it wasn’t for that pesky Free Speech Union.
Lord Sumption: Why Have Human Rights Organisations Said Nothing?
In the recent Prospect webinar in which Lord Sumption admitted to breaking lockdown rules, the patron saint of lockdown sceptics also criticised Britain’s human rights organisations for being “extraordinarily silent” on the Government’s wholesale suspension of our liberties.
A case in point is 38 Degrees, a lobby group that describes itself as “progressive” and claims to “campaign for fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK”. You’d expect a group that “defends rights” to object to the fact that the UK Government has placed 67 million people under virtual house arrest, but not a bit of it. Like most “progressive” organisations it has enthusiastically sided with the lockdown zealots, giving its unequivocal support to our beloved leader. Indeed, it has just made a special offer to its members – a mask that has your support for the NHS emblazoned across the front (see above). A reader, who’s also a member of 38 Degrees, received this “special offer” via email yesterday:
From this weekend we’ll all be required to wear a face mask. It’s a great way to keep our friends, family and neighbours safe from coronavirus.
But why settle for a plain mask, when you could get one that sends an important message? Today, thousands of us are buying this new mask that helps reduce the spread of Coronavirus and shows our support for the NHS.
Masks like this one usually cost over £9. But you can get one for just a fiver to cover the costs! And if thousands of us buy one and wear it, our message will be clear for all to see: we, the public, love the NHS and want to protect it.
So there you have it folks. If you’re concerned that wearing a face nappy doesn’t send a clear enough message that you’ve abandoned your dignity and are submitting to Britain’s dictatorial regime, you can make it even clearer by wearing a mask emblazoned with pro-NHS propaganda. All courtesy of a human rights organisation that “campaigns for fairness”.
I wonder if, for a little extra money, 38 Degrees could create a mask that administers an electric shock to its wearers if they don’t burst into applause every time Matt Hancock appears on television?
More Dodgy Data?
A lecturer in neuroscience (and a reader of Lockdown Sceptics) has got in touch to point out there’s something a bit fishy about Scotland and Wales’s Covid hospital admissions data:
I noticed that Covid hospital admissions in Wales are not falling as one might expect, while those in Scotland have dropped to zero. Currently, Covid admissions to hospitals in Wales are running at a similar level to those in England, which is strange given the very different populations (and reported deaths).
Admissions figures for patients suspected of having COVID-19 for every nation in the UK are updated daily here. You can infer the length of stay for Covid patients in the different nations by comparing patient totals with daily admissions. Discharges are equal to the change in numbers of patients minus any admissions, and the average length of the stays is approximately equal to (discharged per day)/patients.
For England, the average length of a hospital stay for a Covid patient is just under nine days since the start of the lockdown. This seems reasonable and has been relatively constant.
For Scotland, the data are less current because it stopped reporting admissions after July 9th. Based on the older data, the equivalent calculation gives an average of 40 days. That cannot be right.
For Wales, the data are up-to-date, and give an average stay before discharge of five days. However, this has been falling and for July the average was just 2.6 days.
There are two possible explanations. One is that Scotland has a particularly debilitating and long-lasting form of the virus – COVID-19+ – while Wales has a very short-acting one. On the other hand, Occam would suggest that Covid admissions and patients are being counted differently in the two nations. I suspect that Wales is counting anyone arriving at hospital with an elevated temperature and cough as a “Covid admission”, but only counting patients with a positive Covid test. In contrast, Scotland seems to be significantly undercounting admissions, perhaps by only including patients who arrive with a positive Covid test.
I am sure that it is a complete coincidence that these happen to play into the particular political narratives of the two First Ministers: Sturgeon’s line is “Covid has been banished but we may have to close the border to keep it out”, and Drakeford’s is “Covid is much much worse over here, so we have to keep everything shut”.
Anyway, I thought it was curious, although admittedly not of the jaw-dropping “count everyone as a Covid death whatever they actually died of” PHE variety.
This is curious, to put it mildly. I know it’s hard to compare Covid hospital admissions and fatalities in the UK with those in other countries because of different recording methods, and in some countries, such as the United States, it’s hard to compare regions for the same reason. But I wasn’t aware that the different UK nations used different methods. Is it possible that the Welsh and Scottish governments are choosing to record Covid hospital admissions differently to suit their particular agendas? If any readers can throw more light on this anomaly, please email me here.
More Under-25 Year-Olds Died From Influenza in a 16 Weeks in 2014/15 Than COVID-19 This Year
I’m grateful to a reader for pointing out that I used the wrong table from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication when comparing deaths from Covid in 2020 with deaths from other causes in previous years a couple of days ago. The table I used compared deaths to July 3rd in 2020 with deaths from other causes in England and Wales over a year, when the table I should have used was the one above, comparing deaths to July 3rd with deaths in England and Wales over a typical 16-week period in previous years.
The data is still pretty startling. For instance, it shows that more under-49 year-olds died of suicide and injury/poisonings in a typical 16-week period in 2018 than Covid in 2020 and fewer under-25 year-olds have died from Covid than from road traffic accidents in a typical 16-week period in previous years.
Here’s a round-up of all the stories I’ve noticed, or which have been been brought to my attention, in the last 24 hours:
- ‘People with treatable cancers will die due to Government scaremongering, warns NHS nurse‘ – A district nurse tells the Telegraph‘s Planet Normal podcast there is “no reason” why routine treatments were paused through lockdown
- ‘Coronavirus lockdown ‘made no difference to number of deaths‘ – The Evening Standard reports on the recent study in the Lancet that I flagged yesterday showing lockdowns around the world had no impact on Covid mortality
- ‘Lockdowns DON’T work, study claims‘ – Ditto, this time in the Mail
- ‘Coronavirus school closures could hit pupils’ earnings for the next FIFTY years, report says‘ – A new report from the Royal Society says the effects of coronavirus school closures could last 50 years
- ‘British tourists are warned air bridges could collapse at short notice leaving them facing 14-day quarantine on return to UK‘ – Yikes! I’m still in Italy
- ‘Why should we be forced to pay for a BBC that portrays Winston Churchill as a mass murdering racist?‘ – Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail poses a good question
- ‘How long will we have to wear masks for?‘ – James Forsyth in the Spectator says no one in the Government has a clue
- ‘Cancel culture takes the fun out of life, says comedian John Cleese‘ – Timely reminder from the great British comedian
- ‘Warning of “cancer deaths tsunami” as disease claims almost 1,000 more lives at home in lockdown‘ – The Telegraph reports on the catastrophic impact of postponing 400,000 cancer checks during lockdown
- ‘We can learn a lot from Amsterdam, where life is blissfully normal‘ – Nice travel piece in the Telegraph. I think I know where I’m going for my next holiday
Theme Tune Suggestions by Readers
Only one today: “Roni Got me Stressed Out” by Chromeo.
Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened
A couple of months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.
Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re now focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all. Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.
Note to the Good Folk Below the Line
I enjoy reading all your comments and I’m glad I’ve created a “safe space” for lockdown sceptics to share their frustrations and keep each other’s spirits up. But please don’t copy and paste whole articles from papers that are behind paywalls in the comments. I work for some of those papers and if they don’t charge for premium content they won’t survive.
We created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, but they became a magnet for spam (apologies for mixed metaphor) so we’ve temporarily closed them. However, we can open them again if some readers volunteer to be moderators. If you’d like to do this, please email Ian Rons, the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster, here.
Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation recently to pay for the upkeep of this site. If you feel like donating, however small the sum, please click here. I’m on holiday in Italy until tomorrow and won’t be doing my usual amount of work on the site until I return. If you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here.
I thought I’d give my readers something to chew on while I’m away: Salem 2.0: The Return of the Religious Police to the Public Square. This is a book about cancel culture that I’ve been working on for a while now, but which took a back seat during the coronavirus crisis. Hoping to get back to it as the crisis recedes – although that’s happening more slowly than any of us hoped. It’s a work in progress, so don’t expect too much.