A preview in an unpredictable world
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Dear lovely reader,

We're on the brink. It's Friday morning. Tomorrow, in England at least, everything changes. The lockdown is effectively over.

We can meet inside, go to the pub, get as tantalisingly close as a metre to each other. 

It's been 103 days since we were told to go inside. Inch by inch that's relaxed until now, many will feel they can do what they like.

Do we honestly expect lovers, separated for all this time, to keep 'one metre plus' apart once they have found themselves alone, once, finally, they've found themselves in their painstakingly tided front rooms? 

And yet, these decisions have been made. Perhaps the evidence is strong enough.  R is between1 and 0.7. Closest to 1 in the Midlands, which includes Leicester. Here in Kent, we're chilling with a smooth 0.84. 

With cases having fallen steadily - despite much, much more testing - and the R rate below 1, perhaps there are few enough cases in the community.  Perhaps if you find yourself in a slightly crowded bar over the weekend, it is pretty safe because it's unlikely any of your fellow thirsty punters have the virus to give to you.

Will it be constant rolling local lockdowns and frequent spikes in cases or just more relaxed rules, a boost to the economy and people allowed to get out and enjoy the summer?

We just don't know. Or at least, I just don't know. Last week I gave you lots of questions and generally shrugged in your general direction. This week, let's just look back at what has happened so far. The path to this crossroad.

Finally, whatever you're doing this weekend, look after yourself. Stay safe.

Peace and love,

1st January - 23rd March - 16 million people enter the UK from abroad. Estimate of 1,356 cases arrived. Approx 14% from Italy, 25% from France 33% from Spain. Less than 1% from China. 5th March - 1st death, with official figures of 116 cases. The number of cases is now estimated to have been more like 50,000. 12th March - community testing ceased due to high demand. Focus on capacity of NHS. 10 deaths recorded. 12th March - first Prime Ministerial press briefing. Those with symptoms asked to stay at home, but not their households. Claim we were four weeks behind Italy, who were on 1,000 deaths. We reached that in 12 days.  23rd March - lockdown announced with death toll at 359. Germany had announced lockdown at 86 deaths.  The UK would continue to have four times as many deaths throughout. 5th April - first available data for number of tests - 13k per day. 8th April - worst day of the pandemic. 1,443 deaths.  That puts the peak of cases at some point between 20th-23rd March.  Since that date, cases and deaths have been falling.   28th June - official figures are 80k tests per day.

The week ahead...

It's the first big week back in the Commons...

House of Commons

Monday - The Domestic Abuse Bill makes it's final visit to the House of Commons. Nothing can be more serious than the protection of our fellow humans. Nothing.

Domestic abuse, vile and evil as it is, is hard to fight. It often takes place behind closed doors, with victims terrified to speak out, unable to escape the continuous and unrelenting misery. 

This Bill aims to help those victims. Part of that is to create a clear definition of coercive control - making it easier to spot and support victims.  It co-ordinates agencies like the police, teachers and health professionals. Sets out strategies to support victims and stop escalation. It makes changes to courts, so victims won't have to face their abusers. 

It has been broadly welcomed by many groups, but there are those who say it doesn't go far enough and that not everyone is equally protected.

Tuesday - Every now and again, the government have to give a day over to estimates of how much they are going to spend in the next year. They are imaginatively called 'Estimates Days'. They are excruciatingly dull. 

Wednesday  - PMQs! Boris! Keir! Ian! Just two left until September. Get your fix, while you still can.

The focus of Wednesday, though, won't be Mr Johnson. Nope. It will be Mr Sunak. Today, we'll get a financial statement.

This is going to be all about the economic recovery. The PM gave a speech about building stuff and employment recently, but it's today we might get the real detail.

This isn't a full budget, but it is hugely important and will have a big impact on millions of lives. The decisions outlined will shape what happens for years to come. Livelihoods depend on what is said.

Thursday - The final day of estimates, for which we can only be grateful.

Friday - Commons closed so MPs can do their constituency thing. 

House of Lords

Monday - Last week, the Commons debated a Bill to help pubs and restaurants make the most from outdoor space and takeaways. It hasn't come in time for pubs to open on 4th, but will get through the Lords pretty quickly. Their first look at it is today.

Tuesday - The Agriculture Bill is there to set things up for a post Bresit world. It doesn't do too much specific, but gets everything ready.

All eyes will be, however, be on an amendment that failed in the Commons. That is to guarantee farming standards once we've left. The government say they've already made those guarantees, and better to keep some flexibility. Campaigners say that if it's all set already, why not include it in the Bill?  

Wednesday  - Not a great deal.

Thursday - More Agriculture Bill fun.

Friday - They are sitting today, but, well, I wouldn't set an alarm for their 11am start. 
Lockdown lifting in England, What you can do from tomorrow,Two households can meet anywhere - indoors or outdoors (always maintaining social distancing, yes, even indoors).   Grandparents can look after their grandchildren. We can meet people from different (as in, not always the same two) households indoors, but not at the same time. Don't want to go home after your indoor fun? No worries, we can stay over, too. We can visit restaurants, pubs, cinemas, 'attractions', hotels and campsites (with restrictions). Libraries, community centres, places of worship and (outdoor) playgrounds are opening, too. We can go on holiday in England. We can get a haircut. We can get married, with up to 30 people watching. We can go to youth clubs (with social distancing). Model villages are back. Also, we're still more than welcome to stay at home.
Lockdown lifting in England.  What you can't do from tomorrow.  Smooch.  Social distancing has to be maintained, even indoors. Go to a pub or restaurant with more than one other household. Chat to people you know when you get to the pub, other than the other household you came with. Have a party where it is hard to social distance. Hang out indoors with people from more than one other household. Visit a nightclub or casino. Get our nails done or have a tattoo. Use an indoor gym or swimming pool (or chill in their spa). Learn to dance in a studio. Go bowling. Meet more than six people from different households outdoors. Any group of more than six should still be from the same household. We should never, ever be in a group of more than 30.

And finally...

These are hard times. We don't know what's coming, we don't know where we're going. It's no different for life at SP. Over the past few weeks, some people have been very generous with their support. We're not too far off a place where our future is looking more certain.  If you can support us with a few quid a month, it would really mean the world. Thank you.
I'll chip in.
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