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Column 2nd December 2020

Is there finally some good news?

I usually try to avoid national and international news at the moment because in lockdown everything just seems even more depressing.

There’s Trump denying that he has lost the election in the States; climate change creating more floods, droughts, storms and heat waves than in recent history; Boris stating that the pandemic was “unforeseen” even though they ran an exercise on the impact of a pandemic in 2006; and Sunak announcing that as a minimum we’ll all start paying for the Covid handouts through Council tax increases next year.

The Chancellor has also announced that although NHS staff will get pay rises, teachers, police, firefighters, etc will have pay freezes. This is even though all of these services are working just as hard as NHS staff to keep us safe and to educate our children all through the pandemic.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the impact of all the crisis-related funding packages will add up to more than £100bn this year.

Yet the government is still spending at least £85 billion pounds on HS2 and has commissioned a study into the cost of building a tunnel from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

I’ve spent most of this week trying to find some good new to cheer myself up but it’s been a difficult challenge.

I was hoping that a change in the level of covid restrictions would be good news and to some extent it is.

We can socialise in groups of up to six people outdoors. Shops, most businesses and venues can continue to operate although pubs can only operate as restaurants.

We’re allowed to attend outdoor and indoor events as long as the total number of people is less than 50 percent of capacity of the venue.

30 people can attend a funeral and 15 people can attend a wedding or a wake.

And – they will review the restrictions on 16th December and might, just might, relax them a little.

The BBC reports that there were 96 Covid cases in the Vale in the week 16-22 November, down 75 on the week before. This equates to 71 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 165 (223 last week).

So we may be heading in the right direction.

But the best good news is the positive results of the vaccine trials and the possibility that some of the most at-risk groups in Oxfordshire might get the first dose before the end of the year.


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