My Covid Story / and Report on the UK:
A Trip from Edinburgh, Scotland to the US
By Irene M., retired academic
Friday morning, July 2, 2021, Turnhouse Airport, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Outside the Departures area, an inconspicuous handprinted sign points to "COVID TESTING" across the airport bus corridor with a small bevy of young women in blue uniforms clustered behind a table. The person at the front of the line advises me: '"Fit to Fly" certificate here; I think.
The Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has stimulated a number of highly lucrative pop-up enterprises. A company called CIGNpost has been appointed at Edinburgh Airport to administer pre-flight Covid tests to intemperate flyers. On Sunday 4th July I present myself at the check-in desk for flights to London Heathrow, Dallas, TX, then Flagstaff, AZ
The airport test is exactly the same as the test you can have done by the National Health Services every couple of days if so inclined, free of charge. The Government / overworked NHS perhaps doesn’t want weekenders flooding their testing premises every Friday morning. I could have paid at alternative private testing centres in Edinburgh, or many other elsewhere in the UK.
Preflight testing is, however, one of the lesser inconveniences connected to flying or fleeing Great Britain. Over the past few months since January, both the UK (Westminster) Government and their Scottish peers seem to have particularly enjoyed messing with intrepid folks who foolishly want to get out and away.
Meantime, crowds of several dozen thousand were infecting each other all over again at football matches and an occasional "outdoor" rave. The most recent spikes in positive cases have occurred among youngish males, many of them Footie fans tearing apart the city centres of the Euro Cup venues and bawling in each others' faces on the terraces.
But, overall, while the exclusions and limitations have been pretty draconian (only in June were we allowed to meet in a group of as many as four people outdoors), no alcohol in indoor restaurants (in fact, no indoor restaurants); concert halls, cinemas, health clubs, libraries, universities, schools, closed or operating on very scarce mysterious hours; WorkFromHome must be encouraged and permitted.
As in the USA, a lot of those WFH folks took to the concept with equanimity, and a lot don't want to go back. Furlough pay was a nice alternative to wages, although many people, especially the self-employed or small businesses didn't qualify for the aid. One importunate MP unwittingly gave public voice to an unfortunate truth -- would ANYONE really choose to commute five/six days a week to an uninspiring point of labour? Plant your garden or bake that bread, instead. Some did miss the communality of erstwhile work life but a lot counted up their savings on transport, office clothes, lunches, coffees, and got ready for a Big Holiday spend. The purveyors of those worklife pleasures lost out. And a lot of groups will struggle to ever start again after eighteen months' of closures -- food and drink services (other than home deliveries), the arts and entertainment, and retail high streets, in particular.
Boris Johnson has announced a "gradual return" to workplace work maybe starting August 9th; general release from other public constraints in England on July 19th. Also starting on July 19th, 15 people from 15 households will be allowed to meet up outdoors, and/or up to 200 at a wedding or a funeral, with still at a meter distance. The NHS is on its knees; impossible to find a live doctor unless there's a real emergency.
But some of us Scots are back in Arizona. There seem to be far fewer signs of the virus and its effects here -- few wearing masks, inside or out, and shops and cinemas open, although I don't know since when. Lots of official offices closed, or moved to online services, however. Nevertheless, both the U.K. and the U.S.A. seem to have done a good job of getting the vaccinations out, although the inevitable backlash ("unsafe", "doesn't work", "boosters required", "what about the rest of the world?") seems to have gained ground. I have my Covid vaxx and my preflight test certificate. And those of us writing and reading this have survived