As regular readers know, I run a music studio. We are currently open only for professional musicians, solo/single household artists and education related to public exams. To give some idea of what this means, we have 19 bookings all day in our 17 studios. To give some idea of the effects of lockdown, on a similar day in 2019, we'd have somewhere between 40-50 bookings. What has this got to do with the headline? Well I am just giving you some idea of what a normal days business looks like at the moment and it is relevant.
For our business, Thursday is our logical end of the week. We pay in our cash takings (or we used to when people used it), so we work our weeks out Friday to Thursday. Each week we keep stats to compare with the previous year. This allows us to plan, identify if a studio is not being used as much or much more. This allows us to improve as we can see in real time going back 20 years, what has worked and what hasn't. Of course, as we were shut last April, there is not too much to learn. However as I look at the coming week, I noticed something most unexpected. On Monday, we have no bookings at all. As Fri-Sun are booked and Tues-Thurs have normal bookings, I was quite puzzled. They I remembered. Monday is the day when we can go to the pub, cafe or restaurant, if they have an outside area. It seems that all of our customers seem to be grabbing this opportunity with both hands.
The latest Barnet Council dashboard says that Barnet has a covid infection rate of 27 per 100K people. Although that is massively lower than January, In December, the Govt was putting advisory warnings when countries rate went above 20 per 100K. In short, the Pandemic is far from over. What is different is that all vulnerable people and those over 50 have been offered a vaccination and most have had at least one dose. The chief medical officer tells us this means we are 80% less likely to die if we are infected. However almost no healthy people under 50 have been vaccinated, which means potentially there is a huge well of people who could potentially become infected. Now these are far less likely to get ill, so you may say "so what?" but the biggest risk is of vaccine resistant mutations.
What my own studios bookings tell me is that we are desperate to be let off the leash. I don't blame anyone for this reaction. None of us want to be locked down a second longer than need be. Will meeting friends for a pint in the pub garden significantly raise the rate of infection? Only time will tell. I hope people are sensible and don't go completely over the top, but it is a concern.
I was skeptical about he return of children to school last month and felt that this was a tad rushed. Although the rate of infection has not risen, it has not fallen at the same rate since the opening. This was good news. The mass testing has clearly helped. If we are sensible and keep a degree of social distance, then it is not unrealistic to hope that the easing will not have a major impact.
However there is one thing that concerns me. Those covid deniers, who believe the whole thing is a conspiracy, have been forced to follow the rules to some extent by the lockdown. They don't want vaccines and they don't want to social distance. In the USA where there are far more people of this ilk, covid rates and deaths have not come down. I do worry that this group could be the spark that lights the fire of another wave. There is a part of me that thinks this is just Darwinian evolution in motion, and as someone who is vaccinated, I'll be alright, but if the rate creeps up, the chances of mutation increase. The virus isn't sentient. It doesn't know that we have vaccines and it is under threat. It mutates at on a random basis, therefore the bigger the well of infection, the more chance. The anti vaxxers get very shouty about infringements on their liberty. If they bring in a third wave and another lockdown I'll take no satisfaction in smugly knowing that it is their idiocy that sent us back to Jail (in Monopoly parlence).
There are some people who clearly don't understand statistics (I did an A Level in the subject), who are claiming Covoid is over. It isn't, we are just back to where we were last October, but we have vaccines to hold the worst of the pandemic back. My view, and the view of the chief medical officer is that we are not out of the woods.
To sum up, I am happy that there is a relaxing. I just hope that we are all sensible enough to behave wisely and not spark a third wave. I suspect Boris is actually being far more gung ho than the medics in his team would like. I sincerely hope that we, the people, repay his faith in us. So when you see your mates, have a pint, but lay off the kissing and hugging for the time being.