So here we are at the one year anniversary of the beginning of lockdown. Whilst the vaccine rollout has been to my mind very impressive in terms of numbers achieved, it is beginning to look as if rather than leaving Covid behind us we will need to learn to live with it.
With lockdown measures easing, in particular the end of stay at home, in reality we are a long way from being back to normal.
Helpfully regulations protecting against residential eviction, which were initially due to expire in February this year and were then extended until the end of March, have now been extended again until the 31st of May. In short, residents are protected against eviction unless their landlord can satisfy the court that there are grounds for eviction on the basis of antisocial behaviour, nuisance or domestic violence. There is also an exception where rent arrears are at least six months outstanding.
It does look as if the 31st of May extension will be the last one. Plus it is worth noting that it is still possible for residents to be given notices to quit their property before then and to be required to attend a court hearing before that date, subject to Covid restrictions at the court in question.
The vaccination roll out has been a timely reminder of the importance of advocating for vulnerable groups. There was rightly a lot of publicity of the government’s reluctance to prioritise the vaccination of those with learning disabilities. This was particularly shocking given that the ONS revealed that 60% of people in England who died from Covid between January and November 2020 had a learning disability. In February it was announced that all persons on their GP’s learning disability register should be vaccinated in priority group 6. The change of tack came after some GP groups decided of their own volition to prioritise their learning disabled patients.
The increased risk seems quite obvious when one pauses to reflect on it. I am reminded of a conversation with a neighbour who I met for the first time when walking my lockdown puppy at the beginning of this year. She told me about her fears of catching Covid from her husband who had gone out on his bicycle, as he often did, to where she was unsure. She explained that he was an acquired brain injury sufferer and that while she was glad that he was able to go out she did not know where he would be going or what he would be doing or who he would be with whilst he was away from the house.
Understandably not all people offered the vaccine have been eager to embrace it. Some people already struggling with underlying conditions have been anxious about making those conditions worse. An open letter signed by a number of leading UK health charities was published this month encouraging people with conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and lupus, and their carers, to book a vaccination at the earliest opportunity. The list including included those suffering with learning disabilities and was signed by Mencap.
It will be very interesting to see how things look in a few months’ time. We are all much in need of some face-to-face contact. I have my fingers and thumbs and toes crossed that come the middle of May I will be allowed to sit in a room with my 78-year-old mum and enjoy a much overdue hug!