It was a beautiful day here today. After a couple of days staying at home I would have loved to go for a walk. However, isolation is isolation. Of course all I have is a cough, and some of you might think it would be OK for me to go out with a mask, but such things are hard to get here. Pharmacies didn’t routinely stock them to start with, and now you can’t get one anywhere. In any case, our health service doesn’t trust people to use masks correctly, or to remember not to touch people. Their advice is that if you have any symptoms at all then you should stay at home for at least 7 days. So that is what I am doing.
And today that stay-at-home period has been extended to 14 days.
All of which is causing people to wonder how long this is going to last. When I went shopping last Friday I figured I needed food up until the end of April. That now looks like an underestimate.
The big issue today, however, is the rest of the government’s idiotic announcement. Most countries around the world have been ordering big gatherings not to take place, and ordering venues to close. Heck the Irish government has ordered pubs to close, just a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. That’s a measure of how seriously they are taking the need to prevent infection. Here our government has just advised people not to attend large gatherings.
The key difference here is “advised” rather than “ordered”. If an event or venue is ordered to close by government then it can claim on insurance. If all that happens is that the punters don’t turn up because they have been advised not to go, then there is a problem. Right now all sorts of businesses around the UK, from theatres and concert halls, to pub and restaurants are facing ruin because their custom will plummet and there is nothing that they can do about it.
To bring it closer to home, consider a science fiction convention. Swecon, which I was due to attend, was cancelled on government orders. That means that they did not have to pay for the venue. CostumeCon 38 in Montreal was cancelled on government orders the day before it was due to start. Kevin, who is on the board on CanSMOF, had been quietly worring to me about it all last week. But the government intervention saved them from a financial disaster. In the UK I expect Eastercon to have almost no attendance. Hilton are fully refunding hotel bookings, but because the event hasn’t been banned they won’t refund the function space rental, because they can’t claim on their insurance. The convention may also be on the hook for failing to deliver enough hotel bookings, such targets normally being part of convention hotel contracts.
There are still a couple of weeks to go before the con, so it is possible that someone will step in and save them. But Bozo is way out of his depth, and Cummins, who pulls his strings, is actively malevolent, so I don’t expect anything to change.
Anyway, time to worry about how far into May I can last without leaving home. And sadly that probably means no Åcon for me. The rest of Europe may be coming out of the crisis by then, but I can’t see the UK doing so.