Welcome to Tier 4, London. Christmas is just around the corner with new lockdown measures set in place, prompting many Londoners to complain without really understanding that the measures are not much different than what we have in America. It’s a fact of life in the pandemic.
I flew into London for the Christmas holidays while the nation’s capital was still in Tier 2, with all retail, restaurants, and pubs open. I was planning to visit my hairdresser and favorite retail shops, but the plans went down the wire as the lockdown went from Tier 2 to Tier 4 in just a matter of a few hours.
What struck me early on this year, even in June when I first came to Britain from the United States, was that initially, people were not wearing masks, even in grocery stores. That changed over the summer, but the new surprise this winter was that you could easily walk into Starbucks or a restaurant and no one would be wearing a mask. People making food in open market food trucks were serving happy customers without masks, too, and in private clubs, no one had a mask, neither the guests nor the staff.
Now, Britain is upset with what they are calling the “cancellation of Christmas”, as a new variant of the virus has been discovered. With already such relaxed measures in place, no wonder the country ended up in a wide-ranging lockdown. However, the stories of the apocalypse coming to London are false, shops are well supplied and there is plenty to buy, salons and retail are indeed closed, but you can still order a take out from the restaurant. Even with these new measures in place, life can still be pretty good.
Londoners protest too much, me thinks.
Happily ever after with Lady Shackleton
If you live in the United States, chances are you would need a reminder that Fiona Shackleton is a high profile divorce lawyer, a partner at Payne Hicks Beach, who represented Prince Charles and Paul McCartney, among many other celebrities. The news of the day here in Britain is that she is funding research at Exeter University, the Shackleton Relationships Project, which is aimed at helping people find a suitable partner in order to avoid a divorce later in life.
Coming with her professional and personal experience in unrealistic expectations and incompatibility, Lady Shackleton insists that before getting married, you have to look at a list of questions, one of which, among others, asks Are my partner and I a good fit?
Asking ten “critical” questions before embarking on a serious relationship can help couples thrive, the study shows.
If you are looking for New Year’s resolutions, now is your chance to add partner-screening questions to your list.
$600 for the people or a mere £450
While I am awaiting Christmas in London, I can’t get over the fact that the best Congress managed to do was $600 in stimulus checks. They act as if they are giving something for free, trying to cut us a good deal, with a 50% cut in stimulus payments. Then they also cut unemployment supplement to $300 per week, omitting retroactive collection, rendering those who fell victim to the political games with no compensation for waiting for the stimulus, which Americans had no choice but to do.
The outgoing President Trump urged Congress last night to amend the bill and increase direct payments from $600 to $2000. He also criticized heavily foreign aid that made it into the stimulus bill. Trump wants more money in the pockets of American citizens, and Americans want that too.
The confusing part, though, is that a few days ago Kudlow gave a preview of what the Americans can expect in terms of financial support, and that was exactly what turned out in the bill. Trump, with a change of tune, is now matching the mood of the nation, but he was supposed to make the ultimatum for $2000 direct payments before he lost the election.
The worst-case-yet-likely scenario is a government shutdown, which proved to be a very hard hit to America in 2018.It has the potential to strike even harder during the pandemic and with unemployment benefits poised to expire this week.
Truck off, Macron
The moment Boris Johnson announced the existence of a new variant of the virus, France interestingly shut down the border crossing, leaving more than 3,000 lorries stranded in Kent where they have been since Sunday night as well as at the Port of Dover.
To make things more dramatic, the EU suspended all travel with the UK, using the new variant of COVID as justification, without really explaining why it only did so with the UK and not also within the EU, given that the new virus has been detected in Italy and Germany.
With the clock running out on the UK-EU trade deal, even if the new variant of COVID can be taken as a rational excuse for the measures Macron has taken, that the EU is giving the UK a preview of what a “no-deal” would look like could also be the case.
PM Johnson, in the No.10 press conference that allows the press corps only to join and ask questions remotely via video link, kept calm. He kept addressing France as “our friends,” while making an argument that a lorry driver sitting in his cabin, isolated, makes a minimal risk of transmission. Realizing that the move Macron made also cut off Ireland from the trade supply, the trucks were allowed to go through the border, subject to providing a negative coronavirus test. Travel from the UK to France has been restored since this morning.
Furious lorry drivers from all across Europe have sent a message to the French government’s irresponsible move to close the border. Truck off, Emmanuel Macron.
Joyeux Noël, everybody.