December 21 2020

Predictably the anxieties about a new variant Covid in the UK has led to a panic response from many countries. At 11 pm last night the French closed their ports to all ferries coming from the United Kingdom. The Chanel tunnel was closed. No lorries were allowed to travel into or through France from the UK. On a normal day some 11,000 lorries travel through Dover every day. Throughout the day more and more countries have joined in the ban. Up to 40 countries have now banned people from Britain entering their countries.

The Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to mainland Europe , Canada and Turkey for at least 48 hours. Sainsbury’s have warned of shortages with salads, fruit and cauliflowers on their shelves as supplies are trapped at the ports.

Teams are working round the clock to find ways of reopening the ferries and the tunnel. Emergency plans are well developed to deal with large numbers of lorries being stuck. Operation “Stack” has been implemented in Kent when the M20 becomes a large lorry park with two-way traffic on one side. Manston Aerodrome is set to be a giant carpark as well.

The news led to a rapid drop of the FTSE 100 index when trading began this morning. Initially a 2% drop which improved later and settled at a drop of 1.3%.The Prime Minister decided to brief the nation at a press conference today. He pointed out that only 20% of the freight coming to the UK has been affected. Its only lorries with human handled freight that are affected. Trailers that are decoupled at the ports are not affected neither is freight coming on container ships. So, 80% is not affected.The PM has spoken on the phone with president Macron and both sides are keen to resolve things very quickly. It may be resolved in a few hours but I fear that may be over optimistic. The Kent police and the local Resilience Teams have worked on plans to cope with the lorry jam at the end of Brexit and so were quickly able to respond to the growing crisis.

All our local hospitals are only allowing visiting on Christmas day.

Today’s statistics show 433,470 tests have been done today and there were 33,364 positive tests today. The 7 day figures show a 54% rise in cases since a week ago.

Deaths tend not to be registered at weekends so today’s is a lower figure. It will be higher tomorrow; 215 deaths were recorded. Again, over a 7 day period, the death rate has risen by7.75%. The death rate remains at 4.2 per 100k.

18,777 were in hospital on the 17th December. There are no other new health statistics available tonight.

The Good news is that by today over 500,000 people have had their first Covid vaccination, they need the second one before they have any real protection. We are now in danger of running low on vaccine until new supplies are available. All eyes are on the progress of the Oxford Pfizer vaccine which is scheduled to be approved immediately after Christmas.

Following an outbreak in the Suburbs of Adelaide, Australia has acted quickly, virtually putting the town in isolation, with no travelling in or out of the town allowed for the time being, I do hope that, if it was necessary, you have been able to adjust your Christmas plans without too much distress or disappointment. Remember to use social media to the fullest possible. If you do not know how to, I suggest you ask a local teenager or someone in the family to help you set it up. Try and stay positive, it may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better in the New Year. By sharing your circumstances in the discussion it helps all of us to realise we are not alone, its tough for everyone. We can encourage one another to stick to the rules. Be prepared for the rules to get tougher before they get easier, We may well see tier 4 rules everywhere after Christmas, and even tier 5 in some places. Let me know your views as usual.Play your part and stay apart this Christmas.

Please stay positive and stay safe.

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