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A LEADING writer and economist explained how the British fishing industry was "decimated" by the European Union during Thursday's edition of BBC Question Time.
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Your Favourite Pub Won’t Survive The Covid Winter
To try and stave off a Tory revolt, Boris Johnson announced this week a £1,000 Christmas grant for wet-led pubs to try and show that he understands the effect of restrictions on businesses.But instead of being thankful, publicans like me have reacted with anger. The paltry amount, the timing and the resentment at the way we have been vilified during the pandemic means we’ve taken the “gesture” as an insult, not a sign of caring.Measures to control this virus are clearly needed, but we should be asking whether restricting what people do in pubs is even effective. The government’s published scientific advice on pubs references a Korean nightclub, and spread traced to gyms – hardly the most pertinent examples. Publicans running venues where people behave have a right to feel annoyed. The stipulation that punters must now have a substantial meal with their drinks is there because law makers think people are better behaved after food. I could tell them that an idiot is still an idiot even if they are full of pie and chips.  Related... England's New Covid Rules Begin Today. Here's Everything You Need To Know Pubs That Don't Serve Food Given £1,000 To Cope With Strict Lockdown Rules For me, this measly Christmas grant has come as far too little, too late. I had to decide whether to open before the tiers were announced because I had to order beer. The extra money makes no difference to me, just as the extension of furlough made no difference to those already made redundant.Now we head towards Christmas knowing the hardship is set to continue. Our trade in December will be hit hard, not just because of forced restrictions, but because people will have to choose between family, or going out over the festivities. It’s a double blow as we’re going to lose out on Christmas trade, and if there is a new year spike, we’re going to have to pay for the tighter restrictions in January too.Earlier in the year, Rishi Sunak told restaurants and pubs that had to close we’d get £3,000 for our struggles. In reality, this figure will be much less for most of us because it is scaled down for tier level and rateable value, which is a poor indicator of running costs and of how many people are employed by the pub. I expect to get just £934.Although Johnson’s extra £1,000 has been formally announced, I’ve become too used to disappointment to get excited. I still don’t know if I will qualify. And even if I get the full £1,000, it will still not be enough to cover all of my fixed costs. Yet another example of how little those in power understand about running a business.Related... To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid Tier 3 Residents Could Visit Pubs And Meet More Friends If They Test Negative For Covid The government is keen to stress that restrictions on pubs are far more lax in this country than France and Germany. But what they don’t say is how the support packages actually compensate for loss of trade. Distinctions between wet or food-led pubs are the most basic, and the extent to which a pub is affected will be very different. Tacking on extra measures that we may or may not qualify for is tinkering with a system that doesn’t work and isn’t fit for purpose. Many pub owners are part of the three million excluded for support because they are directors of limited companies. To run a pub, with all the liabilities and risks involved, you have to set up as a limited company and once you’ve done that it makes sense to pay yourself from that company as and when it can afford to do so. It Is also perfectly normal for the people running a pub to live above it. When we talk about pubs closing we are also talking about people losing their homes. It’s winter and we’re paying for the gas, our bills are more than domestic bills as not only are we paying commercial rates, but we have to heat a large building.Gone will be the distinctive, historic pub on the village green to be replaced by luxury flats, and we will all be poorer for it.This year has made us all re-evaluate what is meant by community and what social interactions are important. The pub undoubtedly has a place within that community. For a lot of regular customers we’re a second living room and the only place they can go for a friendly chat. We’re an important part of many people’s lives from hosting engagement parties, baby showers to wakes. Pubs offer food, entertainment and socialisation. It’s where we go to make friends and have a laugh. The pubs that will have been hit hardest of all are those that trade on providing a social space, the very definition of hospitality: welcome, friendly and warm.A true community pub is a personality driven business, it is the front room of the landlady and landlord running it and is a reflection of them and their values. If they are driven out then the building will be snapped up by property developers and the soul of the place will be driven out with the owner.Gone will be the distinctive, historic pub on the village green to be replaced by luxury flats, and we will all be poorer for it.Liz Hind is a pub landlady based in Aylesbury. More in Opinion... Opinion: The Home Office Is Using Your Money To Breach Human Rights Opinion: Tesco Is Wrong If It Thinks All We Romanians Are Thieves Opinion: Pregnant Doctors Like Me Are Still Being Put At Risk Opinion: Boris’s Blustering Language Was Always Boring. Now It’s Deadly
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Your Favourite Pub Won’t Survive The Covid Winter
To try and stave off a Tory revolt, Boris Johnson announced this week a £1,000 Christmas grant for wet-led pubs to try and show that he understands the effect of restrictions on businesses.But instead of being thankful, publicans like me have reacted with anger. The paltry amount, the timing and the resentment at the way we have been vilified during the pandemic means we’ve taken the “gesture” as an insult, not a sign of caring.Measures to control this virus are clearly needed, but we should be asking whether restricting what people do in pubs is even effective. The government’s published scientific advice on pubs references a Korean nightclub, and spread traced to gyms – hardly the most pertinent examples. Publicans running venues where people behave have a right to feel annoyed. The stipulation that punters must now have a substantial meal with their drinks is there because law makers think people are better behaved after food. I could tell them that an idiot is still an idiot even if they are full of pie and chips.  Related... England's New Covid Rules Begin Today. Here's Everything You Need To Know Pubs That Don't Serve Food Given £1,000 To Cope With Strict Lockdown Rules For me, this measly Christmas grant has come as far too little, too late. I had to decide whether to open before the tiers were announced because I had to order beer. The extra money makes no difference to me, just as the extension of furlough made no difference to those already made redundant.Now we head towards Christmas knowing the hardship is set to continue. Our trade in December will be hit hard, not just because of forced restrictions, but because people will have to choose between family, or going out over the festivities. It’s a double blow as we’re going to lose out on Christmas trade, and if there is a new year spike, we’re going to have to pay for the tighter restrictions in January too.Earlier in the year, Rishi Sunak told restaurants and pubs that had to close we’d get £3,000 for our struggles. In reality, this figure will be much less for most of us because it is scaled down for tier level and rateable value, which is a poor indicator of running costs and of how many people are employed by the pub. I expect to get just £934.Although Johnson’s extra £1,000 has been formally announced, I’ve become too used to disappointment to get excited. I still don’t know if I will qualify. And even if I get the full £1,000, it will still not be enough to cover all of my fixed costs. Yet another example of how little those in power understand about running a business.Related... To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid Tier 3 Residents Could Visit Pubs And Meet More Friends If They Test Negative For Covid The government is keen to stress that restrictions on pubs are far more lax in this country than France and Germany. But what they don’t say is how the support packages actually compensate for loss of trade. Distinctions between wet or food-led pubs are the most basic, and the extent to which a pub is affected will be very different. Tacking on extra measures that we may or may not qualify for is tinkering with a system that doesn’t work and isn’t fit for purpose. Many pub owners are part of the three million excluded for support because they are directors of limited companies. To run a pub, with all the liabilities and risks involved, you have to set up as a limited company and once you’ve done that it makes sense to pay yourself from that company as and when it can afford to do so. It Is also perfectly normal for the people running a pub to live above it. When we talk about pubs closing we are also talking about people losing their homes. It’s winter and we’re paying for the gas, our bills are more than domestic bills as not only are we paying commercial rates, but we have to heat a large building.Gone will be the distinctive, historic pub on the village green to be replaced by luxury flats, and we will all be poorer for it.This year has made us all re-evaluate what is meant by community and what social interactions are important. The pub undoubtedly has a place within that community. For a lot of regular customers we’re a second living room and the only place they can go for a friendly chat. We’re an important part of many people’s lives from hosting engagement parties, baby showers to wakes. Pubs offer food, entertainment and socialisation. It’s where we go to make friends and have a laugh. The pubs that will have been hit hardest of all are those that trade on providing a social space, the very definition of hospitality: welcome, friendly and warm.A true community pub is a personality driven business, it is the front room of the landlady and landlord running it and is a reflection of them and their values. If they are driven out then the building will be snapped up by property developers and the soul of the place will be driven out with the owner.Gone will be the distinctive, historic pub on the village green to be replaced by luxury flats, and we will all be poorer for it.Liz Hind is a pub landlady based in Aylesbury. More in Opinion... Opinion: The Home Office Is Using Your Money To Breach Human Rights Opinion: Tesco Is Wrong If It Thinks All We Romanians Are Thieves Opinion: Pregnant Doctors Like Me Are Still Being Put At Risk Opinion: Boris’s Blustering Language Was Always Boring. Now It’s Deadly
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How To Stay As Safe As Possible In Pubs And Restaurants
The Christmas socialising season is upon us, but it looks very different this year under England’s three tier system.In tier 1, you can go to pubs and restaurants with up to five friends outside of your household, but that applies to very few areas of the country (currently the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly). In tier 2, you can book a table with a substantial meal – as long as you only sit with people in your household. And in tier 3, pubs and restaurants can only offer takeaways. If you’re tempted to go to the pub – in any capacity – this Christmas, it’s likely to increase your exposure risk to Covid-19 compared to sitting at home. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about the transmission of Covid between people, but there’s a strong consensus that Covid is spread more rapidly: indoors rather than outside, in crowded spaces, and where people cannot adequate keep their distance from others,” Professor Paul Hunter, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia, tells HuffPost UK. “At the start of the national lockdown, we saw a surge of infections in England but only really in those authorities that were in tiers 1 and 2 where there were fewer pre-existing restrictions on mixing indoors.”READ MORE: What To Say To People Who Tell You You're Being 'Too Safe' Right Now Despite the risk, for some, supporting a local business, getting a change of scenery and having a mental health boost feels the right decision. With that in mind, here are some tips for staying as safe as possible if you’re going to visit a pub or restaurant. Don’t bend the household rulesIf a mate says “go on, no one will know”, try to avoid temptation – even if they suggest booking two tables next to each other. “Don’t bend the rules on not being allowed to socialise outside your household or bubble,” says Professor Hunter. “Just because you’re sat at another table, doesn’t mean you can spend two hours talking to a friend at the next table. That is still socialising indoors and against the rules in tiers 2 and 3.”READ MORE: To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid The household rule is there because you’re unlikely to be able to maintain social distancing with others on your table (or people nearby that you know).Pubs and restaurants have also been told they must not accept bookings from multiple tier 2 households and must discourage “mingling” between tables, so do the staff a favour and don’t push your luck. Wear a face covering  The guidelines state you should wear a face mask in a pub or restaurant “except when seated at a table to eat or drink”.“The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others,” the government says. “Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others from coronavirus (Covid-19) rather than the wearer, they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.” READ MORE: Here's What Happens To The Tier System In England Over Christmas Sanitise your hands You’ll probably be asked to sanitise your hands when entering the premises, but you should also re-sanitise where possible if you come into contact with frequently touched surfaces – such as doors or the bathroom. “There’s a risk of transferring the virus via hands or surfaces,” Professor Sally Bloomfield, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, previously explained.“If [someone] is infected, they will: a) be expelling droplets that will settle onto surfaces, and b) likely be touching their mouth or nose and have the virus on their hands. Avoiding transmission via their hands and contact surfaces is key.” Look out for good Covid practices “Try and judge how well the management is doing on its safe Covid practices,” says Professor Hunter. “If you feel uncomfortable or are not impressed, try somewhere else.”A key thing to look out for is how busy a venue is. Under the government guidelines, restaurants and pubs should be spacing tables two metres apart, “or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable”. To reduce your risk, avoid cramped spaces. “If there are many people inside, the probability that someone may be infected is higher and the smaller air volume is less able to dilute the virus,” Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist and Professor in the Department of Respiratory Sciences at University of Leicester, previously explained. READ MORE: 6 Useful Tips For Anyone Grieving Their Pre-Pandemic Life Stick to the one-way systemHospitality settings have been advised to implement measures to reduce the congestion of customers, such as encouraging everyone to follow a one-way system when popping to the loo, or entering and exiting. Do your bit to help maintain social distancing by sticking to it. Stop leaning on the barPubs and restaurants have been advised to “reduce the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers” – this includes leaning on the bar. In tiers 1 and 2, pubs are required to offer table service anyway, so this shouldn’t be a big problem. But if you’re in a tier 3 area collecting a takeaway, avoid leaning on the bar – both for your own health and as a courtesy to other customers and staff. Sit in a ventilated spot Choose your seat wisely: if there’s a spot by an open window or open door, take it. You could also consider sitting outside if a venue has heaters or other helpful facilities. Good ventilation can help reduce infection rates. “If the virus is in the air and you remove that contaminated air, you also remove the virus. This is what ventilation does,” Dr Tang previously explained.“Think about if you have a smoky room or burn toast in the kitchen. Opening the windows dramatically lowers these contaminants, replacing bad air with fresh air. You can smell the impact almost immediately.” Don’t drink too much Having one too many impairs our judgement, so we may be less stringent with social distancing measures, says Professor Hunter. “Enjoy your food and drink, but remember drunk people may not be able to be safe for themselves or others.”Pay by contactless Hospitality venues have been asked to encourage contactless payments where possible – so now’s not the time to raid your piggy bank. Have your card ready.Avoid public transport You can’t jump in the car if you’ve had a drink, but that doesn’t make getting a bus or train home a good idea, either. “Public transport, due to the proximity and shared surfaces, makes it a perfect place for viruses to spread,” Dr Jenna Macciochi, an immunologist based at the University of Sussex, previously told HuffPost UK. “Avoid any non-essential journeys on public transport.”Consider staying home if you’re vulnerable “If you’re clinically vulnerable – and especially if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable – you should think twice before going to any crowded indoor venue,” says Professor Hunter. “This includes pubs and restaurants, until you have completed a course of vaccine.” READ MORE: Friendmas: Why We're Not Spending Christmas With Our Family This Year Parents Have The Ultimate Covid-Inspired Elf On The Shelf Hack You Can Still Volunteer At Christmas During Covid. Here's How
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
The Covid Vaccine Means We Must Delay Christmas
If there is one thing we have learnt from the pandemic over the past year, it is that social isolation works. This is, however, an inconvenient truth in the lead up to Christmas.At the time of writing, approximately 633,000 people in England are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the past week. This is one of the highest positivity rates recorded, equivalent to one in 85 people. Mortality statistics paint a similarly grim picture, with just under 2,700 deaths in the week prior, the highest figure since May.This week also marks the end of the national lockdown. Over the next three weeks, there is expected to be intense retail and social activity, as people make preparations for Christmas and start the annual travel exodus to be with close members of their family.This poses a significant challenge for a Covid responsible Christmas, not least as the nation is lulled into a false sense of security by the promise of the impending vaccine roll-out.There is dangerously little capacity in the system to cope with any further infection spikes.At a time when infection rates are some of the highest they have ever been, people are permitted to have three weeks of heightened social activity, which will inevitably lead to a further spike in covid cases. This will be swiftly followed by five days of intense indoor social interactions, as small family groups are allowed to celebrate Christmas together.Complacency with regard to social distancing is also likely to increase, both due to the news of the vaccine and the inebriating effects of festive celebrations. Christmas has the potential to become a national super-spreader event, leading to a catastrophic rise in cases at the start of the New Year. The effect of Thanksgiving in the United States proves testament to this. Moreover, these celebrations are likely to represent the most significant exposure to covid for many of the most vulnerable members of the population who have been shielding over the past year. This is particularly true for the older generations, who are likely to come in contact with younger members of the family household who may be asymptomatic carriers. The consequences of this nationwide exposure could be devastating. By filling chairs at our tables for this year’s Christmas, we risk many more empty chairs next year.Each year, there is a recognised increase in hospital respiratory related admissions and deaths in the weeks following Christmas. This is thought to be due to increased social interaction, time spent indoors and reluctance to seek medical advice over the festive period. As a result, the NHS experiences a surge in demand at a time when it is already buckling under winter pressures. The pressure for bed space this year will likely be dire, with covid patients already accounting for almost 10% of capacity.The NHS will also be hit at a time when it desperately needs to recover. The past year has put enormous strain on already stretched staff and resources, already exhausted from the immense pressures of dealing with covid. There is dangerously little capacity in the system to cope with any further infection spikes.  Related... To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid How To Make Christmas Festive In A Pandemic Overall then, the current Christmas plans may represent the most significant super-spreader event this year, and the single greatest exposure to covid for the most vulnerable members of the population. Together with an overly stretched and exhausted NHS, a social festive period could spell one the biggest disasters for this country at a time when the covid era shows signs of resolution. So what should we do this festive period? It’s imperative we delay a social Christmas, at least until the vaccination has been more extensively rolled-out and immunity has had an opportunity to take hold. We also need to give the NHS this vital time to recover from winter pressures already exacerbated by covid.Without sounding too much like a politician, we have all adapted enormously since the start of the covid pandemic, and it is important to maintain this discipline in order to see it to an end.We must realise that by filling chairs at our tables for this year’s Christmas, we risk many more empty chairs next year. Felix Brewer is a surgical trainee in the East of England. He is part of the Doctors Association UK Editorial Committee.More in Opinion... Opinion: The Home Office Is Using Your Money To Breach Human Rights Opinion: Pregnant Doctors Like Me Are Still Being Put At Risk Opinion: Tesco Is Wrong If It Thinks All We Romanians Are Thieves Opinion: Boris’s Blustering Language Was Always Boring. Now It’s Deadly
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
This Is How Top Chefs Make Scotch Eggs So Deliciously Runny Inside
If you think we’ve asked some big questions in 2020, they’re not over quite yet. In December, we’ve been forced to consider a whopper, namely: is the humble Scotch egg a starter or a main, a picnic-ready snack or a “substantial meal”? It was environment secretary George Eustice who first confirmed a Scotch egg “probably would count” as a substantial meal when ordered with a drink in a pub, only for Michael Gove to weigh in on This Morning that Scotch eggs were a starter – before backtracking to say that, yes, no, they were definitely a meal. Clearly we can’t get un oeuf, because there’s even a Scott Chegg joke making the rounds online, with people punning for England around their popular snack.All this talk of Scotch eggs has given us a proper hankering. And despite the controversy and confusion of this week’s debate, there is one thing we can all agree on – Scotch eggs are utterly delicious. Cooked properly, that is. There’s a egg-sized hole between a dry, bitty shop-bought version and the properly gooey kind you’ll find at a farmer’s market, say, or (cough) a Tier 2 public house.So, how do you achieve the perfect one? We’re talking a crispy golden shell, flavoursome sausage meat, and most importantly, a soft-boiled, runny-yolked egg inside. We turned to chefs and even the inventor of the humble Scotch egg, London’s Fortnum & Mason, to find out how to make this spherical wonder.  Related... Here's What Happens To The Tier System In England Over Christmas “It’s all about simple flavours done well, and the traditional recipe uses just salt, pepper, and onions,” a Fortnum & Mason spokesperson tells HuffPost UK. “For more adventurous tastebuds though, we recommend adding oregano, sage, and garlic.”The first Scotch egg was created in 1738, since when it’s come a long way.″The name ‘Scotch egg’ comes from the fact they would contain anchovies, which gave them their strong, or ‘scotched’ flavour,” Fortnum’s explains. Originally, they contained a pullet – or young hen’s – egg. “The eggs we now use came later, with modern inventions even basing the recipe around quail, duck and goose eggs.”Whether they’re meaty, veggie or even vegan – yes, vegan eggs do exist – the perfect Scotch egg is all in the high-quality ingredients. And according to its original creators, free-range meat, eggs make all the difference. It’s also important to keep in mind the right ingredient ratio with a balanced flavour profile that doesn’t throw everything off.“We keep our herbs and spices relatively simple – some red wine, rosemary and black pepper in the sausage meat,” says Sally Abé, head chef at the Harwood Arms of the classic Scotch egg. “You want to taste the yolk but also want that lovely meaty flavour. We use venison, which is a red meat, and we add a little bit of pork sausage meat in there to balance it out and stop it from getting dry.”What’s the secret to a soft and jammy yolk that melts in your mouth when you cut a Scotch egg in half? “We cook the eggs for exactly six minutes and then they’re plunged into ice water, so the egg doesn’t get overcooked. After that, we deep-fry for five and half minutes at 180°C and then we rest it for three minutes before serving,“ says Abé. “They’re cooked just enough to be able to shape the patty around but still lovely and runny in the middle.”As for the million-dollar question: does a scotch egg constitute a substantial meal? “We would say so, as long as it comes from Fortnum’s!” says the upmarket grocers. “We invented originally invented it as a meal forintrepidtravellers, enabling them to carry great food safely and securely on their expeditions. It was an extremely innovative creation at the time, that allowed a pocket-stored meal on the move.” And, that’s the final say on the eggy discourse.  Related... How To Make Perfect Jammy Eggs Every Time 3 Satisfying Comfort Food Recipes From A Cookbook That Helps Others Here's How You Actually Make Spaghetti Bolognese Like An Italian
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How To Stay As Safe As Possible In Pubs And Restaurants
The Christmas socialising season is upon us, but it looks very different this year under England’s three tier system.In tier 1, you can go to pubs and restaurants with up to five friends outside of your household, but that applies to very few areas of the country (currently the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly). In tier 2, you can book a table with a substantial meal – as long as you only sit with people in your household. And in tier 3, pubs and restaurants can only offer takeaways. If you’re tempted to go to the pub – in any capacity – this Christmas, it’s likely to increase your exposure risk to Covid-19 compared to sitting at home. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about the transmission of Covid between people, but there’s a strong consensus that Covid is spread more rapidly: indoors rather than outside, in crowded spaces, and where people cannot adequate keep their distance from others,” Professor Paul Hunter, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia, tells HuffPost UK. “At the start of the national lockdown, we saw a surge of infections in England but only really in those authorities that were in tiers 1 and 2 where there were fewer pre-existing restrictions on mixing indoors.”READ MORE: What To Say To People Who Tell You You're Being 'Too Safe' Right Now Despite the risk, for some, supporting a local business, getting a change of scenery and having a mental health boost feels the right decision. With that in mind, here are some tips for staying as safe as possible if you’re going to visit a pub or restaurant. Don’t bend the household rulesIf a mate says “go on, no one will know”, try to avoid temptation – even if they suggest booking two tables next to each other. “Don’t bend the rules on not being allowed to socialise outside your household or bubble,” says Professor Hunter. “Just because you’re sat at another table, doesn’t mean you can spend two hours talking to a friend at the next table. That is still socialising indoors and against the rules in tiers 2 and 3.”READ MORE: To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid The household rule is there because you’re unlikely to be able to maintain social distancing with others on your table (or people nearby that you know).Pubs and restaurants have also been told they must not accept bookings from multiple tier 2 households and must discourage “mingling” between tables, so do the staff a favour and don’t push your luck. Wear a face covering  The guidelines state you should wear a face mask in a pub or restaurant “except when seated at a table to eat or drink”.“The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others,” the government says. “Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others from coronavirus (Covid-19) rather than the wearer, they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.” READ MORE: Here's What Happens To The Tier System In England Over Christmas Sanitise your hands You’ll probably be asked to sanitise your hands when entering the premises, but you should also re-sanitise where possible if you come into contact with frequently touched surfaces – such as doors or the bathroom. “There’s a risk of transferring the virus via hands or surfaces,” Professor Sally Bloomfield, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, previously explained.“If [someone] is infected, they will: a) be expelling droplets that will settle onto surfaces, and b) likely be touching their mouth or nose and have the virus on their hands. Avoiding transmission via their hands and contact surfaces is key.” Look out for good Covid practices “Try and judge how well the management is doing on its safe Covid practices,” says Professor Hunter. “If you feel uncomfortable or are not impressed, try somewhere else.”A key thing to look out for is how busy a venue is. Under the government guidelines, restaurants and pubs should be spacing tables two metres apart, “or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable”. To reduce your risk, avoid cramped spaces. “If there are many people inside, the probability that someone may be infected is higher and the smaller air volume is less able to dilute the virus,” Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist and Professor in the Department of Respiratory Sciences at University of Leicester, previously explained. READ MORE: 6 Useful Tips For Anyone Grieving Their Pre-Pandemic Life Stick to the one-way systemHospitality settings have been advised to implement measures to reduce the congestion of customers, such as encouraging everyone to follow a one-way system when popping to the loo, or entering and exiting. Do your bit to help maintain social distancing by sticking to it. Stop leaning on the barPubs and restaurants have been advised to “reduce the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers” – this includes leaning on the bar. In tiers 1 and 2, pubs are required to offer table service anyway, so this shouldn’t be a big problem. But if you’re in a tier 3 area collecting a takeaway, avoid leaning on the bar – both for your own health and as a courtesy to other customers and staff. Sit in a ventilated spot Choose your seat wisely: if there’s a spot by an open window or open door, take it. You could also consider sitting outside if a venue has heaters or other helpful facilities. Good ventilation can help reduce infection rates. “If the virus is in the air and you remove that contaminated air, you also remove the virus. This is what ventilation does,” Dr Tang previously explained.“Think about if you have a smoky room or burn toast in the kitchen. Opening the windows dramatically lowers these contaminants, replacing bad air with fresh air. You can smell the impact almost immediately.” Don’t drink too much Having one too many impairs our judgement, so we may be less stringent with social distancing measures, says Professor Hunter. “Enjoy your food and drink, but remember drunk people may not be able to be safe for themselves or others.”Pay by contactless Hospitality venues have been asked to encourage contactless payments where possible – so now’s not the time to raid your piggy bank. Have your card ready.Avoid public transport You can’t jump in the car if you’ve had a drink, but that doesn’t make getting a bus or train home a good idea, either. “Public transport, due to the proximity and shared surfaces, makes it a perfect place for viruses to spread,” Dr Jenna Macciochi, an immunologist based at the University of Sussex, previously told HuffPost UK. “Avoid any non-essential journeys on public transport.”Consider staying home if you’re vulnerable “If you’re clinically vulnerable – and especially if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable – you should think twice before going to any crowded indoor venue,” says Professor Hunter. “This includes pubs and restaurants, until you have completed a course of vaccine.” READ MORE: Friendmas: Why We're Not Spending Christmas With Our Family This Year Parents Have The Ultimate Covid-Inspired Elf On The Shelf Hack You Can Still Volunteer At Christmas During Covid. Here's How
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The Covid Vaccine Means We Must Delay Christmas
If there is one thing we have learnt from the pandemic over the past year, it is that social isolation works. This is, however, an inconvenient truth in the lead up to Christmas.At the time of writing, approximately 633,000 people in England are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the past week. This is one of the highest positivity rates recorded, equivalent to one in 85 people. Mortality statistics paint a similarly grim picture, with just under 2,700 deaths in the week prior, the highest figure since May.This week also marks the end of the national lockdown. Over the next three weeks, there is expected to be intense retail and social activity, as people make preparations for Christmas and start the annual travel exodus to be with close members of their family.This poses a significant challenge for a Covid responsible Christmas, not least as the nation is lulled into a false sense of security by the promise of the impending vaccine roll-out.There is dangerously little capacity in the system to cope with any further infection spikes.At a time when infection rates are some of the highest they have ever been, people are permitted to have three weeks of heightened social activity, which will inevitably lead to a further spike in covid cases. This will be swiftly followed by five days of intense indoor social interactions, as small family groups are allowed to celebrate Christmas together.Complacency with regard to social distancing is also likely to increase, both due to the news of the vaccine and the inebriating effects of festive celebrations. Christmas has the potential to become a national super-spreader event, leading to a catastrophic rise in cases at the start of the New Year. The effect of Thanksgiving in the United States proves testament to this. Moreover, these celebrations are likely to represent the most significant exposure to covid for many of the most vulnerable members of the population who have been shielding over the past year. This is particularly true for the older generations, who are likely to come in contact with younger members of the family household who may be asymptomatic carriers. The consequences of this nationwide exposure could be devastating. By filling chairs at our tables for this year’s Christmas, we risk many more empty chairs next year.Each year, there is a recognised increase in hospital respiratory related admissions and deaths in the weeks following Christmas. This is thought to be due to increased social interaction, time spent indoors and reluctance to seek medical advice over the festive period. As a result, the NHS experiences a surge in demand at a time when it is already buckling under winter pressures. The pressure for bed space this year will likely be dire, with covid patients already accounting for almost 10% of capacity.The NHS will also be hit at a time when it desperately needs to recover. The past year has put enormous strain on already stretched staff and resources, already exhausted from the immense pressures of dealing with covid. There is dangerously little capacity in the system to cope with any further infection spikes.  Related... To Shop, Or Not? How Risky Christmas Shopping Is During Covid How To Make Christmas Festive In A Pandemic Overall then, the current Christmas plans may represent the most significant super-spreader event this year, and the single greatest exposure to covid for the most vulnerable members of the population. Together with an overly stretched and exhausted NHS, a social festive period could spell one the biggest disasters for this country at a time when the covid era shows signs of resolution. So what should we do this festive period? It’s imperative we delay a social Christmas, at least until the vaccination has been more extensively rolled-out and immunity has had an opportunity to take hold. We also need to give the NHS this vital time to recover from winter pressures already exacerbated by covid.Without sounding too much like a politician, we have all adapted enormously since the start of the covid pandemic, and it is important to maintain this discipline in order to see it to an end.We must realise that by filling chairs at our tables for this year’s Christmas, we risk many more empty chairs next year. Felix Brewer is a surgical trainee in the East of England. He is part of the Doctors Association UK Editorial Committee.More in Opinion... Opinion: The Home Office Is Using Your Money To Breach Human Rights Opinion: Pregnant Doctors Like Me Are Still Being Put At Risk Opinion: Tesco Is Wrong If It Thinks All We Romanians Are Thieves Opinion: Boris’s Blustering Language Was Always Boring. Now It’s Deadly
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