Talking to my long term boyfriend in Winchester a couple of days back (by phone - I haven't seen him since February 2020) he told me of a news report which had mentioned a "worrying" situation in my home district of Rushmoor. Yesterday I got a call from my brother, who has been hunkered down in Basingstoke with his family following his mother-in-law's funeral, unable to get back to their home in France, to tell me that he had now arranged the necessary tests and hopefully, if necessary car repairs had been successful, they would be catching a ferry on Wednesday. He confirmed what my friend had said so I checked online.
Rushmoor. about 1,500 cases per 100,00 people. We are a splodge of dark purple in a sea of red. The Kent mutation is here.
Just before Christmas we were in Tier 2, surrounded by Tier 3, a couple of days in Tier 4, then Christmas and lockdown. Why has this happened?
Our population is about 95,000, 10% of whom are Nepalese, many elderly. They are scrupulous regarding the infection. Never seen without a mask inside or outside shops. They follow the 2m rule religiously. We have a few areas of high density social housing and flats which are by their nature a bit problematic and of course we have some bloody idiots but much of the area is fairly decent housing, some of it very desirable, and a reasonably intelligent population.
We also have a College of Technology with a student intake of 8,000 and one of the largest by number of students and best rated 6th form colleges in the South of England. Over 3,000 youngsters. Local people do attend them but the vast majority of students come from far and wide. Like a University. 11,000+ students.
Unlike a University these youngsters (17 to early 20s mostly) do not live in local Halls. They came in every day and went home every day from a wide area. There may have been an attempt at Social Distancing while actually studying, no masks though, but in the morning and afternoon they flocked like birds, immortal and uncaring in their youth, arms linked, exchanging kisses, exchanging their bugs, locals and incomers alike, those who weren't blocking the roads with their cars flooding onto buses, many heading for the train station, or blocking narrow pavements leaving local residents the option of breathe it in or walk into the roads, crowding into the shops en route for their crisps, maskless.
Thank goodness the schools and college have not re-opened after Christmas. People here seem to be taking the problem seriously. My road is a cut through to the Main road but since the lockdown I have seen very few people out and about. The occasional jogger, masked, a mother with a push chair, an elderly couple taking a constitutional. But the damage has been done.