After catching Covid earlier in the year, I have been testing myself regularly with lateral flow kits. With both jabs on my passport , I still carry a mask and wear when inside public places.
On hearing of the lockdown easing, due for June, we booked a 10 day train, ferry and coach journey around the northern isles of Scotland. It is my and my partner’s first excursion since February 2019.
As of yesterday 13 out of the 41 in our party were isolating in Orkney and as as today, the rest of us are isolating in Inverness. 7 of the 13 had positive lateral flows following one member of the party complaining of Covid symptoms.
I had a negative lateral flow test (as I have had every day of the holiday) but I am writing from a hotel room on the banks of the Ness with no immediate prospect of coming home (or even leaving the room). Apparantly we will get tested by PCR but when – we are not being told, nor how long it will take to learn the results. Our plans for the next fortnight are up in the air and this means cancelling all social and business meetings including trips on Lady Lucy on Saturday and Sunday.
This is not what we were promised by the British Government. It demonstrates that health authorities have still no way of dealing with group travel other than draconian lockdowns and that even when staying at home, you are still being treated as a social pariah for going about your business in a responsible way.
We are being told that all this is in the public good, as we left the City of Kirkwell on Orkney, we passed bus after bus bringing passengers off a cruise ship and into the zone where our tour-mates were infected, there is a feeling on the island that tourism comes first – unless you are an infected tourist – when you are a menace.
I have no idea who is going to have to foot the bill for revised travel arrangements, extra hotel accommodation (let alone whether any refund may come the passenger’s way for events that have been cancelled).
What I know is that I am sitting in a hotel room , feeling great but under restraint for sitting in the company of people who are themselves awaiting the results of PCR tests in another part of Scotland.
No one in our party is moaning, we are absolutely terrified of what the consequences of complaining might be.
So , my message to anyone looking to enjoy Britain on a stay at home vacation is to think long and hard about what risks you are taking. You have no rights once the public health bureaucrats get to work and if you are on a group tour – you have no direct contact with the people dictating the curtailment of your freedom.
It makes no difference if you have been double jabbed, if you’ve had Covid and even if you test yourself regularly. If you are on a staycation tour, you are handing your personal freedom to people who care little about your individual circumstances but a lot about their social and business responsibilities.
This creates a conflict, one which we thought had been laid to rest by the relaxation of lockdown rules in the four stage roadmap. The conflict is between private freedoms and public good and it’s also a conflict of messaging.
We thought the message was to get vaccinated, obey the rules and keep testing. On that basis we thought we could travel within the UK with impunity. We have been punished for being on a tour with infected people.
Is that really a risk you want to take with your leisure time?
Anyone who has had two doses of a Covid vaccine or is under 18, and has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, no longer needs to quarantine. The rules have relaxed further in England and Northern Ireland, so instead of self-isolation, a PCR test is advised – although that’s not compulsory. It’s part of a cautious “step back towards normality”, says Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Scotland and Wales have already implemented changes to their self-isolation rules.
Here are the new self-isolation rules in Scotland
Beyond Level 0, the requirement to self-isolate as a close contact of a positive case has changed for fully vaccinated individuals, as long as you remain asymptomatic.
You do not need to self-isolate as a close contact if you:
- Are fully vaccinated and 14 days has passed since your second dose of vaccination
- You have taken a negative PCR test since being advised to isolate as a close contact. You must remain in self-isolation while awaiting the result of the PCR test result
- You do not develop COVID-19 symptoms. If symptoms develop at any stage, you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test, in line with existing arrangements
How long it takes to get a PCR test is a matter of debate in our hotel room right now!
Update – Sunday 22nd August
4 lateral flow tests and 2 PCR tests later, here is the latest advice from the NHS Covid19 app.
What madness is this? pic.twitter.com/Vw80yUEecz
— Henry Tapper (@henryhtapper) August 22, 2021
It seems that the Scottish authorities can make it up as they go along.