Well, here we are, July 2020…..still in Sunny Plymouth.
I’m sorry to say that this post is more of a reference for ourselves to look back on and for our friends elsewhere around the world rather than exciting news of any sort.
We’ve come out of deep lockdown to some degree, the government relaxed current restrictions by allowing nonessential retail shops to open, including restaurants and pubs, showing in many cases the British publics response, by getting drunk and completely disregarding social distancing, something we should have expected I suppose!
Much of the general public seems to have developed this stupid mentality that because we’ve been locked up for 3 months that the virus has somehow diminished in some way and that we’re all ok now. We think we’ll see another upwards spike in a few weeks time.
Boris still hasn’t insisted that people wear masks in shops! only on Public transport. It’s quite ironic that during the early stages of the virus, the government was saying that there wasn’t any real evidence that wearing a mask prevented the spread or stopped you from catching it, which struck me as contradictory to every medical practice I have witnessed since I was a child. It was obvious that they were controlling the supply and demand of masks to the nurses and health workers, but for god’s sake, they could have let people make their own! We ignored the advice and managed to source pharmaceutical masks, we wear ours every time we shop, go into a petrol station or anywhere where people have difficulty social distancing, which unfortunately is far more often than not!
PEOPLE, PLEASE WEAR A MASK !
Results have just come in from testing in Spain, Sweden and Italy showing that cases of immunity in these countries are only at 5% when for a decent level of herd immunity needs to be at 60%, so in short, there are still too many people that haven’t had it, meaning it’s going to be with us for a long time yet.
All of this is pretty wearing on the psyche – cruising is such a social activity – meeting loads of new people from different places and now we are more isolated than we have been in years. London loses its shine when you can’t see your mates the way you used to, can’t enjoy the sights and sounds freely, can’t anticipate major social events and festivals and want to avoid public transport at all costs.
We also miss our little commune of travelling cruisers that we have amassed over the last couple of years, although you don’t see them all the time, it’s quite comforting that at various intervals in your travels you will bump into someone you haven’t seen for a while.
Compared to many, we still count ourselves incredibly lucky as our heads are above water at the moment and we have our boat (home) with us. We get to visit Helen’s parents at the beginning of August – her Dad is shielded which has meant no going out at all for them and we will self isolate before we go up there just to keep them as safe as possible – it will be lovely to see them after almost a year.
More good news is the Oxford Vaccine is showing the right sort of immune response, as are many other Pharma companies with different approaches. But even if they find one that works, there’s still a lot of testing to be done before it’s released onto the public. so we’re not expecting anything till way into 2021.
Although COVID-19 enforced border closures have now opened up with France, Spain and Italy on the 1st July, from a cruising perspective we now have the pleasure of Brexit to deal with on top of all this. As with most things government-related and Brexit related, there are unknowns and vagaries around visas, length of stay and healthcare in the EU after 31st December 2020 (our final exit date)
Currently, as it stands with all non-EU members (as we will be on 31st December) you are only allowed to stay 90 days out of 180 days, which means 90 days in the Schengen Area and 90 days out, so if we sail to France or Spain after 90 days we have to leave for 90 days, the boat can stay 18 months, but it would mean leaving the boat and returning home or travelling and staying out for another 90 days before returning, making it in its current form quite impossible to cruise the Med.
There are some 500,000 people that currently live between Southern Spain and the UK, with at least 400,000 of them Spanish homeowners, as well as many more in the rest of Spain, France, Italy and Greece, so we’re hoping that some sort of local country to a country arrangement will be made so we can legally cruise the Med next year, but until that decision is made, we and many other cruisers are in a state of limbo!