Politics, Sport

A Week in Review: 30th November-6th December

A Scotch egg is not a substantial meal.

In fact, to my mind it’s not a meal at all. A scotch egg is a snack. You buy them in the snack chillers in supermarkets. But it is just another indicator of how confusing some of the regulations and restrictions of this tier system on businesses is. And how terrible the government is at explaining its own bloody system. The idea is not a bad actually. Pubs and restaurants are only allowed to serve alcohol with food orders. The language used is that it has to be a substantial meal. But what the hell does that mean. What constitutes a substantial meal? Is it a three course Sunday roast or a sandwich and a salad? It might seem trivial to focus on what might seem to be mere details but for the owners of pubs and restaurants who are subject to these rules, it is vital. They need to know what they can and cannot do without any confusion. Places that serve food and drink have been hit so hard by the pandemic and the new restrictions, maybe even the hardest. They require people coming in through the door and paying money. The longer people stay, the more they are likely to spend. But that is just not possible right now. You can’t be sitting down in an enclosed space for very long surrounded by people who you do not live with, because the risk of the virus being transmitted is just so high.

But language like ‘substantial meal’ throws the whole idea into confusion. It could mean something different to every single person you ask. Getting such areas of the economy running in some capacity is obviously what the system is attempting to do, even when their very nature rachets up the risk of COVID-19 spreading and potentially ending up in another lockdown. And it is an extremely hard line to walk. You want to protect the country’s population and protect people’s way of making a living. But at this time, I think you’ve got to take a harsher line than you might like to. At least until the vaccines have had a chance to be widely distributed and until the case numbers have really tailed off. Not to destroy the business, but to protect as many people as possible.

The recent high profile COVID cases show we have a long way to go

In the last week we have seen Lewis Hamilton sidelined for the Sakhir Grand Prix and the whole of the England cricket team’s One Day International tour of South Africa being cancelled. It just shows that there is still a long way to go in the battle against COVID-19. The England touring ‘bubble’ seems to have been breached with several positive tests being returned. The first match had already been postponed and now the rest of the tour has been postponed indefinitely.

Shortly after the first Bahrain GP, Hamilton announced he had returned a positive test after waking up with mild COVID symptoms. This meant he missed yesterday’s Sakhir Grand Prix, with George Russell deputising. Hamilton has been one driver going above and beyond to try and avoid any possible risk of contracting coronavirus. He doesn’t even go to the garages for discussions with the engineers. He holds conversations over Zoom. If anyone on the grid was not going to come down with COVID-19, it was Lewis Hamilton. He is so careful about his health generally, and even more so over this issue that it came as a big surprise when his condition was announced.

A lot of work has gone into making sport viable throughout the pandemic. The English Cricket Board put the work in and were able to host two test series and a handful of short form matches in the summer. All the major football leagues and competitions got back underway and have been able to continue. The autumn rugby tests have been replaced with a new tournament to fill the void left by not being to play the usual opponents; these are usually teams from the southern hemisphere. The Formula One season has been able to travel the world and put on a full season, that’s actually been one of the best to watch in recent years. But there have been problems. Three F1 drivers have tested for COVID-19 over the course of the season. Players in the Premier League have been forced to isolate. Newcastle’s most recent game was postponed and the squad told to stay away from the club’s training ground after a COVID outbreak.

The point is that again, we have to adjust to what spanners the situation throws into the works. Sport won’t return to ‘normal’ while this pandemic carries on. And that we all need to be very careful. Because, this virus will affect anyone, even if you are a top-level athlete.

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