In the last two newsletters, I was telling you the story about our trip to and return from Portugal and all of the testing and experiences that we had along the way.
Having paid extra for the rapid release test on Day 5, everything was going swimmingly and in fact when I sent the last newsletter, we were expecting to come out of lockdown later that day. Unfortunately, there was a sting in the tail – later that day, both Chris and I were contacted by the NHS Test and Trace System to say that somebody on our flight had tested positive and therefore, despite the fact that our rapid release tests were showing negative, we would have to stay in quarantine for the full 10 days – how very tiresome!
As a matter of choice, we decided to take a lateral flow test every day from Day 6 to Day 10, just to make sure that there was nothing sinister that we should be concerned about and I’m pleased to say that every test we’ve done, both during that period and since, has proved negative.
On the one hand, you can’t criticise caution, but on the other hand, when you look at the new measures that are being talked about now for the UK, with the next stage of easing of lockdown, where people who have had 2 jabs do not need to self-isolate, even when they have come into close contact with somebody with the virus, it does feel as though the routine that we went through was somewhat over the top. Nonetheless, as they say, all’s well that ends well!
Looking ahead to the 19th July, which some people in the UK are calling Freedom Day, we are expecting the majority of Covid restrictions to be lifted from that time and the actual announcement is due next Monday, 12th July.
However, we also learned this week that the self-isolation rules of those coming into close contact with people with Covid are likely to be extended until 16th August and whilst this might sound fairly benign, it does potentially have a huge implication for the sport and leisure industry and more specifically, the NHS itself.
It is puzzling to me why from 19th July, it will no longer be a requirement to socially distance or wear masks, other than perhaps in a few confined spaces like public transport, which goes hand in hand with extending the self-isolation period for close contact for a further 4 weeks.
In my mind, it would have made more sense to have these things round the other way, with the self-isolation rules being relaxed, in favour of regular testing, with an extension of use of masks and social distancing.
Sadly, when you read all the conflicting stories in the Press, the whole situation is as bewildering as ever and I do have some sympathy with people that raise the question as to how it can be right for 65,000 people to attend a football match in Wembley, whilst restrictions for people attending weddings and funerals and other private gathering, remain in place.
I guess the answer is “you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time”, which leads nicely on to the question of travel.
It would seem after 16th August, people who have been double jabbed will not need to isolate in England if they come into close contact with a Covid carrier. We are told to expect that people returning from amber listed countries, who have been double jabbed, will not have to quarantine on their return, although there may still be some need for PCR testing.
It’s fair to say, the political noise is getting much louder now in relation to trans Atlantic travel and in particular, opening up a corridor between the UK and the USA. We are seeing this week, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic on a joint pilot scheme at Heathrow airport to create specific arrival channels for people who have been double jabbed to streamline the process and to demonstrate that the pressure can be taken off border control. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
In the US, a group of Senators, I believe are currently lobbying President Biden and they are making demands that the travel between the US and the UK should be opened up without any further delay. They cite the fact that the roll out programme of vaccines in both the UK and the US have been very similar, with similar results and given the controls in place in the UK for people travelling overseas, there is something like a 1 in 10,000 chance of somebody boarding a plane with Covid, and 1 in 1,000,000 chance of them passing that on! I have to say, I am not quite sure of the source of those statistics, but they make interesting reading nonetheless and as others throw statistics around to suit them, I thought I would have a go myself!
Speaking of which, as I write this News Letter, with an identified adult population in the UK of 52.8 million, I see that the number of first doses are in excess of 45.5 million, which represents 86.2% of the adult population. Second doses are a little over 34 million, which is 64.4% and if you combine the two, on aggregate, 75.3% of the total adult vaccines that will be administered to achieve 100% of double doses, have now been given.
These by the way, are all my numbers taken from published figures. I seem to recall reading earlier on in the pandemic, that to achieve “herd immunity”, we needed 70% of the population vaccinated and the conclusion I draw is that we must be above that position now.
Just one final thought on the subject, I understand that the wearing of masks and social distancing could become a matter of personal choice and I have a feeling that the majority of people will feel more comfortable wearing masks in confined spaces, particularly in shops and on public transport. I can’t think of any reason why we would not continue with regular hand washing, using hand sanitiser and where possible, keeping a reasonable distance from others – it is possible to have a conversation with somebody 2 metres away without shouting, just as easily as you can if they are standing right beside you!
Whilst I have not included any financial information this time, I am attaching to this email, a copy of my Investment Commentary that is being issued to our overseas clients with their June valuations as a general summary, so my apologies if you have already received a copy.
May I just close this News Letter by saying once again, a big thank you to everybody who has responded and sent positive comments about our News and Views, I try to keep this fairly light-hearted and topical and the feedback that I get is very much appreciated.
As always, stay safe and we will keep in touch.
Richard, Chris and Lesley