Covid-19 and Commonsense 168


I am planning to travel to Spain at the weekend to give evidence in the criminal case against UC Global for spying on Julian Assange and his visitors (including me) in the Ecuadorean Embassy. It has taken me six solid hours so far to try to work out the logistics of this. I shall travel via Schiphol and I need numerous covid forms and certificates for British, Dutch and Spanish authorities, for the airports and for the airlines. I also need a covid-19 negative PCR test before the flights in both directions, which must be timed at less than 72 hours before the flight and before arrival.

As the test results take up to 48 hours for me to receive and test slots are heavily booked, this makes timing very tricky, especially as I intend to be in Spain less than 72 hours. You end up with a very narrow window. One of the things I have been trying to work out is whether my test for the return flight has to be taken in Spain, or could be taken in the UK just before I leave, will still be within 72 hours of my return. Several phone calls to government helplines later, nobody seems to know the answer to that one.

But I have after several phone calls confirmed the answer to this next one, and it is ludicrous.

In returning to Scotland, if I fly direct to Edinburgh I have to enter a quarantine hotel for ten days at a cost of £1750. If however, I fly to Heathrow and then get the train to Edinburgh, I don’t have to enter a quarantine hotel and I can self isolate at home for nothing. If I come up on the train from Heathrow I would only have to enter the quarantine hotel if I had flown to England from a “red list” country, which Spain is not.

This even seems to be true if I exit immigration at Heathrow from Spain and then immediately check in again on a flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, though if I had been checked straight through and not exited immigration at Heathrow, I would then have to go into the quarantine hotel as “arriving directly” in Scotland.

These daft rules have the full force of law, and fines of up to £10,000 for non-compliance. This nonsense is not the consequence of Scotland and England having different policies. It would still be possible for the Scottish government to have a logically consistent policy that is different. For example, they could decree that anyone flying direct into Scotland would have to enter a quarantine hotel and that anyone arriving in Scotland from England would have to enter a quarantine hotel who had been outside the Common Travel Area (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) in the past ten days.

As it is, the fact that the quarantine hotel is so easily evaded shows that there is no real seriousness of purpose behind the quarantine hotel scheme; it is purely a bit of security theatre, designed to give the impression the government is doing something and protecting us. I assume almost everyone traveling to Scotland from a non “red list” country just enters via England. As there is plainly no seriousness behind the quarantine hotels, I shall certainly do so.

I shall, however, take seriously the self-isolation at home obligation, from the point of view of protecting others. But it would be a very great deal better for virus protection if I could just move to self-isolation at home after the five mile trip between Edinburgh Airport and my home, rather than be forced into a 400 mile journey by public transport.

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168 thoughts on “Covid-19 and Commonsense

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  • Jim Fae Fife

    You can’t go to Spain for a holiday yet you can sign-on at a ‘Jobcentre’. It just goes to show what a load of nonsense this covid-19 business is. I am happy to report that I remain ‘unvaccinated’.

  • M.J.

    Breaking news: Bernie Madoff is dead. He would have spent the best part of 12 years, the sentence that his defense attorney asked for (he got 150 years in the end).

    I am not saying that he didn’t deserve to be brought to account, but I have my doubts about passing sentences that are known to be impossible to complete. I wonder what others think about this.

    • Caperger

      I hope this turn in the discussion doesn’t give the Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian any nasty ideas…

  • Blissex

    «if I fly direct to Edinburgh I have to enter a quarantine hotel for ten days at a cost of £1750.»

    In other countries the government pays for quarantine after travel, and even so it costs a lot less than £175 per day, as the quarantine centres are not hotels. But Thatcherism means that the government is keen to get travellers shaken down. Less corrupt countries do it differently:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/05/south-korea-covid-quarantine-britain-tested-positive

    To sum up the complicated arrival process at Seoul: I was required to download a Covid-19 tracking app, had my temperature checked and was whisked away by pre-approved taxis to the public clinic nearest to my home to take a PCR test. I was then required to self-isolate for more than two weeks at home.
    Once at home, I had minimal contact with my parents, both of whom wore masks the entire time and who quickly indicated that I should stay in my room. The test results came back the next morning and I was surprised to find out that I was positive, since I had no symptoms. What shocked me was that officials from the local district’s public health service then came to take me to a government facility. Not long after I was taken away, more officials in full PPE came to disinfect our apartment, check on my parents and tell them to get tested.
    Self-quarantining at home if you have Covid-19, no matter how mild the symptoms, is not an option in Korea. Thus began my 14-day stay in a youth hostel in the heart of Seoul that had been converted to a quarantine facility for mildly symptomatic Covid-19 patients. This building once housed Korea’s intelligence agency under the military dictatorship where countless people were tortured, which was hardly uplifting. I was in a medium-sized dorm room with a television, a bathroom and a kettle. To my dismay, I had to share it with three other Covid patients, all of whom were asymptomatic. The doctors assured me that there was little to no possibility that asymptomatic patients could cross-infect one another.
    For 14 days, no one could leave their rooms. We were allowed to open the door only to pick up food delivered to us or to put out our rubbish, which we had to treat with disinfectant.

    Despite these restrictions, however, two things stood out. First was the level of service on offer. Every patient was provided with a box of “essentials” such as body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, shaving kits, two types of disinfectant, masks, towels and slippers. The food was equally good, better than the most expensive Korean restaurants I had visited in London. These were all provided free for Korean citizens. The nurses and doctors at the facility would check on each patient twice daily, communicating via an app, asking us to measure our blood pressure and temperature and whether we needed medicine. They even offered counselling services to those who were mentally exhausted.
    The second was the emphasis on solidarity. The medical staff regularly expressed their regret that we were in this position. They emphasised, however, that we had to do it for others. The message was that by temporarily giving up our freedom, we were keeping others safe.

    • Observer

      Wee Krankie is a Thatcherite?

      I really can’t see Maggie going along with lockdowns and masks and associated health hysteria. She would have told everyone to get on with it and stop being a wet.

      • Observer

        And by the way: Lovely Lefty St Jacinda is imposing similar charges on everyone going to New Zealand. And believe me: she is NOT a fan of Maggie Thatcher (sadly)

      • pretzelattack

        and then she would have told everybody to stop lying about global warming being a hoax and start dealing with the problem

        • Observer

          I doubt Thatcher would have had much time for people worrying about temperatures rising a few tenths of a degree, either.

  • topcat

    Hi Craig,
    Yes that is about right. Same when flying to the UK from Germany or for that matter flying from Germany to India if you happen to want to do that. Direct to Dehli and you need to isolate in a 4 star hotel costing a fortune, or you can fly to any small airport in the sticks and then travel as you please to wherever you want and self isolate at home, or not as the case may be.

  • Observer

    “As it is, the fact that the quarantine hotel is so easily evaded shows that there is no real seriousness of purpose behind the quarantine hotel scheme; it is purely a bit of security theatre, designed to give the impression the government is doing something and protecting us. “

    You’ve just summed up ~ 80% of all government activity.

    • Ivan+Sharkov

      With roughly 26 000 deaths every single day in India Covid is responsible for about 2 to 4% of the total. Besides a positive test for the virus does not mean it is solely responsible if a case ends up in death.
      My wife had the virus, as all my family did, but she died of cancer because her surgery was delayed by several months to keep hospitals empty.

        • Clark

          “she died of cancer because her surgery was delayed by several months to keep hospitals empty.”

          I actually doubt this claim, which is why I’m not offering my condolences.

          • Kempe

            It must be a very regional thing; I know three people with cancer and their treatment and operations have carried on regardless. I can’t say as normal because they’ve had additional precautions against infection.

            Two in remission, the third sadly not expecting to last to the end of the year.

          • Ivan+Sharkov

            Kempe – my wife was scheduled for a breast cancer surgery for April 2, 2020. Because of Covid restrictions the operation was moved to August 20. After some complications it turned out that she had developed multiple brain tumors. She died in January.
            Whatever people may say this was the most difficult time of my life so far.

          • ET

            If that is indeed how events unfolded with your wife it is a shocking indictment of the NHS organisation where you live. Sorry for your loss Ivan+Sharkov. Whilst it would be an arduous task you ought to seek legal advice. As far as I am aware there were no changes to the protocols for life threatening conditions although I am aware that that happened anyway. If the procedure could not have been done at your hospital they ought to have arranged for it to be done at another hospital.

          • Ivan+Sharkov

            Thanks ET – It was a decision of the Trust and all hospitals were following the rules. We live in East London and she was meant to have her surgery in Chelmsford.
            I want to take legal advice and I have discussed it with my daughter but she thinks we need some time to get over the loss first.

  • Lev Bronstein

    I find it interesting that I quick search of two pages of comments does not turn up a single instance of the word “capitalism”.

    But, it is only “capitalism” that could convert a necessary public health measure into a Profit-Making Opportunity.

    I’m guessing that Scotland, like most of the capitalist West, has been pumping money into Corporate Socialism programs to help ‘the travel industry’. This would appear to be an obvious connection, as public health rules are used to force mandatory and very expensive quarantine hotel bills onto travelers. I’m sure somewhere in Sturgeon’s offices this was indeed seen as a welcome way to help ‘the travel industry’.

    The motto of the pandemic in the capitalist West has been Corporate Lives Matter. We’ve heard over and over again that this corporation or that can not be allowed to fail. This of course turns capitalism on its head, in that under capitalism if you build something like a worldwide travel industry without properly accepting the risks that a predicted pandemic will occur, then you deserve to go broke. But of course, that could never be allowed to happen.

    This is obviously just yet another disgusting capitalist politician using rules and regulations to make their corporate partners yet more profits.

    • nyolci

      “I find it interesting that I quick search of two pages of comments does not turn up a single instance of the word “capitalism”.”

      Actually I did reference capitalism twice (first page, apr. 14, one day before you wrote your post). For the rest, you’re right. Greetings from a “stalinist”.

  • Yalt

    Another example of rules clearly not devised to protect public health:

    A friend needed to fly back to Europe to have some medical work done (it couldn’t be done here in the States–it wouldn’t have been affordable even if anyone were willing to do it, and no one was willing to do it because the procedure was risky and their liability insurers would have objected). She thought it would be a good idea to get a COVID test before her flight–she works in a hospital so there was some risk of exposure, and why risk infecting other passengers on a 12-hour flight?

    When she showed up for her test, the doctor informed her that he was going to inform TSA that she had voluntarily requested a test, and they would prevent her from boarding her flight. Requesting a test is a risk-factor, you see–it implies that you think you might have contracted the virus.

    ———

    “Do not panic. Think only of yourself.”

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