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a blog by Chris Barrow

In or out, with or without, work or no work - who knows?

Christine Berry writes in The Guardian this morning:

"Keeping up with lockdown rules in Greater Manchester has become a full-time job.

On Tuesday, casinos and soft-play centres reopened everywhere except Bolton. Later that same day, pubs in Bolton were closed.

You can’t meet other households in your house or garden, unless you live in Stockport or Wigan.

You also can’t meet them in pubs or restaurants unless you sit outside, in which case it’s fine, unless you live in Oldham, in which case it isn’t.

Restrictions were lifted last Wednesday for Trafford, where I live, until suddenly, 12 hours later, they weren’t.

From tomorrow, along with the rest of the country, socialising in groups of more than six will become illegal.

If the government had tried to design a lockdown that was bound to fail, it could scarcely have done a better job. The rules are now so convoluted that they are nigh-on impossible to understand: they seem to change almost daily, with no serious effort to communicate these changes.

Worst of all, they simply don’t make sense to people. Children can go to school but can’t visit their friends? I can go to the pub but not see my mum in my garden?"

As a fellow resident of Trafford, I'm equally confused but clearly more so than the crowds of schoolchildren and adults that we saw, either milling about the restaurants and cafes in Hale and Altrincham yesterday afternoon as we walked our dogs, or sprawled in groups of dozens across bowling greens and parks as they enjoyed the afternoon and evening sunshine.

There is a bizarre atmosphere in my postcode, which seems to contain elements of lockdown fear as pedestrians swerve in the street to avoid each other, whilst the glitterati of Hale society are "being seen" in all the right places and some teenagers appear to scorn the virus.

The knock-on effect of this into dentistry is likely to be varied.

I'm already hearing of significant issues around patient compliance with SOPs (even refusing to wear face masks on the premises).

Perhaps more disruptive in the short term are tales of team members and clinicians who either DO or DON"T want to come to work after their own children have shown symptoms of the cross-infection sniffles that have been a common feature of any return to school phase for decades. This time around, though, it might be the dreaded Covid-19 and so the questions pour in - "should I isolate?", "what about my patients?", "do I pay SSP?"

On my weekly client call tomorrow (Tuesday) night, I'm inviting both Sarah Buxton and Pat Langley to comment on the employment law and compliance aspects of this as it's a burning issue.

For now, here in Trafford, we continue in our extended lockdown - and I wonder how many of you might be joining us in the days ahead?

Confused? You will be.

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