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  1. Freedom at last. This is the day in which one cannot anymore be made prisoner of one’s home or have to answer questions about one’s previous whereabouts when entering the island; the whole rigmarole of travelling forms, tests, isolation... gone! The whole Covid repression… gone! It could be a fragile freedom, only lasting until the next “variant of concern” or another function-enhancing experiment goes wrong in a poorly supervised Chinese virology lab. We will resume the fight against the control freaks of the world when needed. I wish all the lefties dead in the meantime. I returned to the island on the 15th of March, travelling from the other side of Europe. I never had a Covid vaccine of any description; thus, on arrival I had to book a PCR test and attend an early morning exam at the TT Grandstand. The result of that PCR test was POSITIVE to Covid. I had had Covid in late February and early March, manifesting itself as a pretty intense cold that took longer than normal to resolve (two weeks of that “cold” to be honest). But not a sole symptom different from those of a normal cold; it had caused me no concern and no alteration to my normal schedule and activities. I only tested it and found out it had been Covid when I was back to the island, because I had to do the test (I did not see the payoff of lying on the IOM landing form). My worst fears did not come to pass. The island appears to have accepted that living with the virus means living with the un-vaccinated too. Any policy of “health passes” (to use the common euphemism for Covid passporting) on this island would have been enormously more oppressive than almost anywhere else in Europe. I spent nearly three months in European countries that appear to require such health pass for most things, and I was able to do all what I wanted to do; occasionally using a fake pass; most of the time unchecked and undisturbed. Especially in Eastern European countries, but frankly also in Switzerland for what I have seen, when the authorities pretended to implement the damn policy, did not really expect the entire population to go along with it, nor their enforcing arm, the police, moved a finger to enforce it. Perhaps France and Italy have been the only European countries that took Covid passports seriously. The retrograde attitudes of some old gigs posting to this site, fortunately not representative of the whole island, but still perhaps its more vocal constituency, tell me that any such policy, in this island, would have had the most demented religious implementation. This kind of health pass, if it were to be properly enforced, has the purpose to exclude from society those who retain independent judgement, at first; then to beat them into submission and to dissolve them into the common mediocrity of the populace. It is a credit to the local politicians that it did not happen on these shores; they understood the issues, even if they talk like all the other politicians. The reason why I stopped mocking Quayle and Ashford one year ago, it is because I understood they did not deserve it. They also changed their tune, one year ago. My fake health pass is actually fully registered within the EU authentication system; its QR code can be easily authenticated through web page “www.getcovidpass.eu” for instance. Only, I found it in Telegram and it does not sport my name. Thus, I had to procure an ID to back it. I went to the dark web through the Tor browser and with a bit of bitcoin bought the PSD template to produce fake Italian IDs. Edited the PSD template with the name and birth date of the health pass, printed it with a good colour printer, glued ID’s front and back sides on carton paper from an old notebook; and that’s it, I was vaccinated. It is not the kind of certification that can be used to cross international borders; it never failed in all the other places (despite the age difference: I am an older man). I had left the island on the 29th of December with a flight to Manchester, intending to continue with a flight from Manchester to Vienna. The latter flight being cancelled, I took a train to London intending to continue with a train to Paris. Unfortunately, at St Pancras the French border police did not like my “self-administered” antigen test; it had to be a nurse-administered nasal swab. A big argument ensued where perhaps I made the mistake of raising my voice a bit too much; the French guards got the British ones involved and I was kicked out of the check-in area with a firm warning not to return on that day. Okay, when I self administered the antigen test, I put the buffer solution directly into the well of the test kit without mixing it up with anything from nose or arse… but they did not know that! Unsure what to do; one month earlier I had bought a flight from London to Milan for the 31st of December that could be used as a plan B route to escape this Brexit (sorry, Covid-variant) country. Instead, I just edited my self-administered antigen removing the self-administered bit and took a bus to Paris at Victoria Coach Station. The whole bus had two passengers; one sitting on the front and me sitting on the back. At Dover, I was asked about the purpose of my trip. Only essential travel allowed: was I an EU national intending to return to my country of birth? Thus, I pulled that plan B ticket from my bag and held it under the nose of the border guard hiding the place of departure with the thumb of my left hand and pointing the place of arrival with the index of the right hand: “yes you see I am going to take a flight to Milan tomorrow” – hurdle of first border pass cleared. Sometimes I surprise myself with how brazen I can be. Once on the ferry from Dover to Calais a bit of extra money got me to the upper floor, the so called Calais Club Lounge. It was even less busy that the bus: me, only me, on the whole first-class floor of the ferry with its all-inclusive food and beverage offer. Obviously there was no chance of a shortage of food or drink; what a great lunch I had. You can see by yourself in the pics below; this UK-France travel ban was no bad travel experience at all. Arrived at Quai de Bercy in the evening, I knew there is no overnight train from Paris to Frankfurt, and my Covid pass would have been checked by the driver of any bus to Germany: the rule was that a traveller from the UK needs a PCR rather than an Antigen. Thus, I edited my fake Antigen Test and turned into a fake PCR Test: in box “Test Type” change “Covid-19 (SARS CoV-2) Antigen (Lateral Flow)” to “Covid-19 (SARS CoV-2) RT-PCR Test”; rename box “Test Kit ID” to “Test Code”; and delete both box “Sensitivity/Specificity” and box “Manufacturer” (always leave box “Result” as “NEGATIVE” of course)... The driver could not scan the “QR Code” in the certificate. I heard myself telling him with a stern voice: “you cannot scan it because it is from England, which is not integrated within the EU system; the law says that it must be a negative PCR test not older than 48 hours; it does not prescribe the source or that the QR code must be scannable”. With my cool mind I was through the second stupid border. Got to Frankfurt at about 8 am feeling perfectly rested (have no problem sleeping on trains or coaches; and in the upper floor of that coach there was no mask encumbrance among my fellow travellers; most of them of student age). I could have jumped straight away on a train to Vienna; but I waited until the ICE 27 leaves shortly past midday because, for being the busiest train of the day, it would have exposed me to the least risk of being picked up by border control. Through another border without much hassle. In Vienna, I saw kids with big petards and the police chasing them rather than checking Covid passes (that was the evening of the 31st of December). One week later I headed to Zermatt from Prague through the line Praha, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Zurich. The advantage of that line is that there are trains throughout the night: if the police had kicked me out of a train, I could have just waited a bit for the next one. Coming from Vienna, there is only one overnight train to Switzerland, which could have stranded me on the platform until the morning. In the segment Praha-Dresden, a university lecturer aged about thirty sitting immediately across the aisle spent one and half hour sipping her coffee and another one and half hour talking on the phone, as an excuse to keep her mask below the chin (mine was in the pocked of my shirt – masken! the thousands of times that cry was shout at me). About two thirds of the journey to Dresden, the German police started going through the aisles raising my level of alert. “What are they doing?” I asked her with a hint of concern. “Are you... hiding something... running away from something?” she asked in a low voice and smirking face. “No, I am just worried my covid papers may not be up to scratch,” I explained. “Mine are as good as toilet paper!” she retorted with a hint of proudness, while holding her mask in front of her face like one of those Venetian carnival masks held in front of the face on a stick (that is the mental image that came to my mind; a theatre of the absurd). She was moving across borders frequently, either for work or for social purposes, and she had stopped worrying about Covid paperwork long time ago. The German police was checking Covid papers to some young men it did not like while leaving in peace the women and older men like me. Hours later (at about 6 am) I was about to cross into Switzerland in a nearly empty train and the Swiss police was on the prowl among the aisles; three border guards, a woman and two men. I was pretending to be dozing, ensconced on the seat; it did not work. The police woman gently patted me on my shoulder and asked for identification and where I was going in three different languages to find out which one I was more comfortable with (try imagining British border guards being so polite). At first I gave them my true Italian ID (Switzerland had stricter requirements for the British in regard to Covid and right to abode) but they couldn’t scan it; thus I gave them my British passport. Asked about my destination, I told them I was heading to Lyon, producing a fake train ticket from Zurich to Lyon to support my claim (having edited the PDF of a two-year-old ticket). As traveller only transiting through Switzerland, I would not have needed a locator form and to arrange pre-departure and post-arrival Covid tests. The fake ticket was convincing; my luggage was the seed of doubt: I had lined up one enormous backpack and one mega gear bag in the top shelf above my head, while tucking the skis behind those two on the same shelf in a concealing ruse; the skis wrapped into a black ski bag to be less visible, but sticking out at one end; and there were also three smaller bags scattered in the seats around me: I was occupying the whole end of a deserted night wagon with all that equipment for the mountain excursions of the following four weeks while dozing pretending going to Lyon… After I told them about Lyon, they looked at each other and the police woman asked, less politely this time, whether all that luggage was mine. I knew that I would have survived no more than two minutes of questioning from experienced border guards; it would have been better to admit the truth straight away rather than upsetting them and risk an arrest (Switzerland only has a small fine as penalty for failing to fill up a locator form). “Yes, all this luggage belongs to me.” But rather than asking more questions, they went back scanning all my ID documents and waited for information to come back; waited for a while in silence while I remained completely still and silent of course. After they got the right info, they handed back my documents and left without saying a word. It was a case of don’t ask don’t tell. If the Swiss legislator really wanted those like me not to come, it would have passed the kind of draconian Covid laws that Austria, France and Italy all have. I was welcome spending money into Switzerland with Covid warts and all. Four weeks later, on my journey back, I took a gamble with the overnight train from Zurich to Vienna that leaves Zurich at 21:40 pm and got lucky that there was no police check; one year ago, when the rules were less stringent, on the same train journey I was subject to Austrian border controls. This year the newly installed Austrian left-wing government is having mandatory Covid vaccination of all adult population and government officials are knocking door-to-door to enforce the policy; Austrian Covid policies have become the most draconian in Europe, at the least on paper. For three weeks the ski resort was devoid of British skiers. Towards the end of the month, France reopened its borders to “vaccinated travellers” and the British started crowding out the place again. Missing the empty gondolas and the deserted slopes, on the fourth week I switched to climbing. Look, below are my ski passes. I wish to dedicate this posting to the 100-plus British skiers denied entry at Innsbruck airport for failing to meet Austrian strict covid-testing requirements; caught out by a rule introduced suddenly on Christmas Day requiring all travellers to Austria to have a PCR taken within 48 hours rather than 72 hours. As well as having had a full course of three Covid-shots, of course; vaccine is an absolute must for travelling to Austria from a degenerate Brexit country. Most of these skiers were flown back to the UK immediately; some were sent to quarantine centres. This article on the Telegraph reported the accident: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2021/12/28/100-british-travellers-denied-entry-austria-airport-new-covid/ With fake PCR tests, fake onward tickets, and no Covid vaccination of any description, I went through Austria and all of its bordering countries except Italy. And you might ask why I decided to make this kind of provocative posting now. It is a final fuck-you to the control freaks. The left has used the accident of Covid to take away our freedoms. It doesn’t care anything about our life expectancy or sanity; its ultimate aim, to the extent that its policies can be framed as a rational plan, is to replace the Western liberal order with a sick high-tech version of Bentham’s Panopticon. To do so, it has constructed an absurd narrative which it called “the science” but with no real foundation on scientific evidence or logic. A plan that hasn’t worked with me, for instance. As shown by Allegra Stratton’s video openly bragging about the lack of social distance at those seventeen Downing Street’s parties, and the 300-plus photos in the hands of Scotland Yard well documenting the same Downing Street’s parties, in this country, the whole pandemic construct was really meant by the powers that be as a device to control the plebs.
  2. Amadeus: I put all that information in my posting on top of pag. 2016 (the posting before this one); it is pretty detailed in regard to the underlying legal issues. Of course the government helpline doesn't have a clue; they aren’t meant to be good for anything. What do you expect from government officials? I did not ask anyone, because I don’t trust anyone by habit, the least those who are at the opposite ideological end of myself. I just went through the relevant UK legislation. The law is from last June; the requirement to have Covid tests introduced last January did NOT amend the June legislation. Unfortunately the UK locator form mainly reflects the rules of England and it is not mutually consistent with the rules of the devolved administrations and the other jurisdictions of the British Isles. Furthermore, the info on UK government’s explanatory web pages is incomplete and misleading (though, the form and the info may have improved since when I went through it one month ago). It was quite an experience, when I arrived at UK border control. My interpretation of the law was absolutely correct; but it took a while for three border officials to acknowledge it and let me through. That is why I couldn’t wait to brag about it with those who have the disposition to understand it. I also thought it could be useful information to those intending to return to this isle from outside the UK. You don’t need to book the two Covid tests required for return to the UK nor to register an UK address for isolation. Be prepared to answer their questions and document your whole journey, or they could waste you a lot of time. Eventually, have the legislation at hand in your laptop; that is what worked out for me, and I wonder what would have happened otherwise. Ridiculous really the police officers asking me to show them the law. They have some internal guidance not available publicly and some of them might have read it accidentally. And to clear up your most recent argument; at this moment UK inbound flights from outside the British Isles (i.e., excluding Ireland) are mostly through Heathrow and from what I have seen there is no way you can from there embark on an IOM flight before being fully cleared by security, in regard to Covid and everything else. Luggage is absolutely irrelevant. The other airports are likely to have the same long-standing security arrangements because IOM is regarded as part of the common travel area.
  3. I am back in the isle; running in the glens and windy moorlands of its landscape. Not much else to do in my free time, thanks to… you know. The return journey was much less adventurous than the outbound odyssey of early January; an evening flight from Vienna to Heathrow (rescheduled two times), an overnight bus to Lancaster, a bus to Heysham, and the afternoon boat. – I had lost touch with this thread; and thus I skimmed a bit through the last few months to see what I have missed. Here I have got some legal cookies for John Wright. And useful information for anyone who might be planning a journey to foreign lands in the current circumstances. UK government web pages (1st pic below) state that all international arrivals have to quarantine and pre-book two Covid tests to be released later. The BBC web-page (2nd pic) was much on the same tune. Realising that the UK locator form mainly reflects the rules of England and it is not mutually consistent with the rules of the devolved administrations and other jurisdictions of the British isles, I poured through the details of "The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations" in force since last June as a "statutory instrument" (meaning that it was passed with no effective parliament supervision). The text of that "law" (wanting to dignify it with that epithet) is 94 pages long (some relevant excerpts are shown in 3rd and 4th pics below). My conclusion had been that as a transit traveller my UK locator form did not need to specify a UK quarantine address nor the pre-booking (and pre-payment) of the Covid tests. Unfortunately, when my paperwork was checked at Heathrow, the woman police officer going through it, after asking for passport, pre-travel Covid test etc, started going through my UK locator form (which I had on my laptop) much more carefully than I had expected and took the position that I still had to to take the two Covid tests: “every traveller to the UK needs them”. When the argument started, she said "show me the law" in a challenging tone and thus, imagine me holding in front of her face a laptop and scrolling down all of the above mentioned documents and legal stuff while trying to convince her. Unable to either accept or refute my legal arguments and other justifications, she went first to fetch a colleague at a nearby desk and then a supervisor; the whole argument going on for about a quarter of an hour with the three of them. The supervisor said that the mentioned law was from last June; now superseded by the January instrument requiring the two Covid tests. No I said: the January instrument introduced the requirement of having two Covid tests for all inbound travellers quarantining in England; but it DID NOT abrogate the June legislation, which still stands. Finally, the three of them found a book of police internal guidance on these matters; after a bit of skimming through it, the same police woman started saying "I think he is right…" and her two colleagues nodded it through tacitly. The whole argument with them had not been animose or unpleasant. Before I departed, I had though what a nut I am for spending time on the details of the damn Covid legislation (which I hate and despise all of it). I am capable to prepare my recklessness; the fundamental difference between me and the jet-skier. Now, to your regret perhaps, I decided to omit all the bit about my dealing with the authorities of this island on my returning here. My reporting of the January trip (cf. my posting to this thread on the 21st of January) had also to be sanitised after some reflection (it omits all the bits of when I had to cut trough the woods to cross an international border). But it was all worth; I had a truly fab month in the Swiss alps and my yearly reboot, like every other winter. I am being asked by GD4ELI if I have changed my mind in respect to my first posting to this thread on 22 April 2020. Obviously we know so much more after one year and my arguments have evolved. Also, I have first hand experience from my winter journeys across Europe. I spent a full month in the Swiss canton of Valais during their second wave and I have seen a different approach than both the UK and this isle. The federal Swiss authorities made clear that their aim is mitigation rather than elimination; and only to the extent of keeping hospital occupancy within capacity. Switzerland shut down the most hedonistic and risky part of their leisure industry for a length of time which is less than the UK and no more than the Isle of Man. Most importantly, it never had the disproportionate restrictions on personal freedoms that have been imposed on us. Practically there have been no restrictions on travel and no restrictions on meeting whom you want to meet. There has been a limit on public gathering above 15, that’s it. The few restrictions on what people can do, mostly coming from the federal government, have not been enforced by the cantonal authorities (or to a minimum extent and reluctantly); only restrictions on business have. The border has always been open. It is the only European country in which I have been able to come and go without checks or any question asked. I never saw the demented "stay at home message" drummed incessantly into people ears as if the recipient were too retarded to understand it. Obviously, the ski resorts would have not been open otherwise; I was there doing winter sports... You would then expect Switzerland to have had higher Covid mortality than the kind of countries that tried to keep people prisoners of their homes. But Switzerland has had less fatalities on a per-capita basis than both the UK and three of its four neighbouring countries. Only Austria had less fatalities, but not by much. Germany, France, Italy and Austria all had strict limitations on what people can do analogous to the UK, and they have nothing to show for it. It is my opinion that those restriction have been imposed on us in part for political reasons, in part for ignorance and stupidity; but they achieved little or nothing. There are academic studies from the time of the first wave that support this point of view quantitatively. The Isle of Man, within the context of being an island, had less fatalities than Switzerland on a per capita basis, at the cost of the border closure and the degradation of people lives to which you have been submitted. Making the population-size proportion, IOMG appears to have saved about 50 lives with the border closure and the punishing lockdown (more people jailed than any other jurisdiction). However, half of those 50 souls are now dead anyway; because it is the nature of coronavirus that half of its victims have less than one year to live; thus IOMG lockdown accomplishment so far is more in the ballpark of 25 lives saved. Please raise your hands those who think that the border closure and the other lockdown consequences, which include the depletion of government coffers, won’t cause many more than 25 premature deaths over time. When I left the island with the ERJ-145, the back of the cabin had a group of elderly travelling exclusively for medical reasons. I overheard them complaining about the many difficulties they had repeatedly experienced with trying to obtain medical tests and treatments; their inconveniences and deprivations from having to isolate after ever return journey from vising an UK hospital. Neither Australia nor New Zealand have to send their patients overseas for routine treatments; this little island is not remotely self-sufficient as concerns its health care needs. It is also devoid of any private hospital where tests for suspected conditions could be carried out when the NHS is not available. There are so many illnesses other than Covid. One in 7 women will fall ill with breast cancer, one in 8 men with prostate cancer, at a certain point of their lives. Even in the blinkered balance sheet that assigns zero value to individuality and personal choice (not my balance sheet) if the only purpose is keeping us living for longer, the focus should be on the preemptive diagnosis and treatment of those unfortunate illnesses that have a statistical chance to kill us soon or later. Try to get an MRI on this island for anything rather than the urgent diagnosis an illness whose symptoms have already progressed to the stage where they can’t be ignored anymore. Each MRI machine has a starting price of one million USD; absolute peanuts for a government that can afford to spend hundreds of millions on lockdown. The British Isles have the lowest healthy-life expectancy than the whole of Western Europe (68 years to be precise; the number of years that one can expect to live a life free of crippling illnesses in these islands). The actions of our government are making sure that these isles will stay that way: a middling income country with inhabitants having unhealthy lifestyles and prone to precocious illnesses. It is naive to trust the government with our own health and general wellbeing. Boris Johnson, Howard Quayle, David Ashford are such a poor example of healthy lifestyle that it is a joke having them mandating health activities to anyone. Switzerland is by no means the only example of country respectful of civil liberties. From mid March wide swathes of America have reopened and are now almost back to business as usual. Texas governor has bragged that his state is now "open 100 per cent" (Texas never really enforced Covid restrictions on people; no one there ever got fined for not wearing a stupid mask). In Florida, students have been packing on beaches for the past month and families are have been entertaining themselves in Disney World. This laissez faire doesn’t appear to have made much difference as concerns the overall severity of the pandemic in respect to those other US states such as California and New York that have had some stringent restrictions and enforcement (although, no US state has been as Covid fixated as the British). The Isle of Man has jailed about 60 people for flouting its strict Covid restrictions. That is the per-capita equivalent of the UK jailing 47,000 or communist China jailing one million! When last January Howard Quayle was asked about Covid enforcement in the island during its ITV interview (the one that he was so keen to arrange) he just lied and said that 12 had been jailed (he actually availed himself of a circumlocution, but anyone who doesn’t regularly read IOMToday or this forum must have understood the figure of 12). He also stated brazenly (or delusionally) that his policies have 99% support on this island. That sickening ITV interview was uploaded on this forum; it is there for you to make up your own mind. Not the first time we hear open lies from him and Ashford anyway. During the month I spent skiing I did not see anyone regulating their speed down the slopes due to some vague concern that if a rescue were to be needed a Covid spread event may occur. Berating a runner for taking care of himself by branding him as "selfish" says more about you than the runner. Why would you want to impose your lifestyle choices on others? Anyone with half brain understands your inner motivations. Actually, the imposition of pointless lifestyle limitations on others is too idiotic even for someone who is naturally mean. Only the very old, and afflicted by enough cognitive degeneration as to lack basic self-awareness, would make that kind of statements with the pretense of offering some kind of wisdom. You know some of my long-term US health care investments have an exciting pipeline of new drugs targeting old age cognitive degeneration; for instance Biogen’s Aducanumab, Eli Lilly’s Donanemab and yet unnamed drugs under trial. Since your are heading to those conditions quite soon (if not already there), it may be of some comfort to know that there might be remedies. Unfortunately, the expected costs of any of those pills is in the region of USD 50,000 per year per patient; nothing that looks like an affordable expense for UK NHS or IOM NHS. The consequence of imposing lockdown on others who might have had better things to do.
  4. It is true, I have got homes in three different jurisdictions, and could easily add a fourth one, Switzerland, as I have been planning to do for a while. Life is mostly normal here. People can come and go, meet whom they want to meet. Unthinkable to throw someone in jail for stepping out of his home. The government is aflush with funds because every time there is a crisis the franc tends to appreciate and the central bank prints a lot of money to keep it down and invests the proceeds into things like US stocks, which has worked out wonderfully. The long term consequences of bad policy decisions will be borne by the likes of you, not by me. I am not giving up on the island for the time being, but plans are on hold. I wanted to buy a bigger place there, and had thought about rental property as well: all on hold. We (me and my business partners) had also though about an office in the island in alternative or in addition to the one in London: unthinkable now, it is so difficult to even travel there and there are obviously concerns about the long term viability of the island as an independent, liberal and prosperous jurisdiction. It has sealed itself from the outside world, thrown into jail for Covid violations more people than the crassest authoritarian regimes of the world, and it is in complete denial about the long term consequences. By the way, I am getting a server configuration error accessing this forum from where I am (but I don’t think the location is the issue). It happens with all threads, not just this one. The problem goes away if one has an account and is signed in. Even this forum is shunning outsiders now. You are all going native.
  5. Here goes the Covid-obliteration monkey: "The Isle of Man Government's response to the virus since day one has been to pursue a strategy of elimination. We are not seeking to suppress the spread of the virus. We are not seeking a way to co-exist with the virus. We are not seeking to make the virus a normal part of our lives. The Council of Ministers remains resolute that our objective is to obliterate the virus from our shores…" I was at Wien Hauptbahnhof when, using the WiFi system of the station, I checked my email box and saw a message from the NSC warning of the impending closure. Then, reflexively, checked with Manx News and I was flabbergasted about a new lockdown in the isle just because of a few positive cases. It follows the above logic of absolute eradication of the virus from the island, which will have to be revised to a more realistic proposition at a certain point. Unless your fellow islanders are willing to accept an authoritarian government permanently intruding and controlling their lives and experimental drugs/vaccines pursuing the chimera of sterilizing immunity rather than individual resistance to infection. About at the same time as above speech, Stephane Bancel, CEO of Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna, warned that “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away”; it will be with us as an endemic respiratory illness “forever” (the occasion was JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on the 13th of January to be precise). But then, as some of you have already pointed out in this thread, CoMin never really had a long-term Covid plan; it decided early on that having their own plan was beyond them and too risky. It looks at what other insular jurisdictions are doing and adjusts its policy according to a short-term narrative that is perceived as political convenient within the context of the island. I had left the isle two days earlier, on the 4th of January, with a BA flight to Heathrow. My connecting BA flight from Heathrow to Vienna had been canceled one week earlier, thanks to the scaremongering of the dangerous English variant of Covid (Covid has 4,000 known strains; of course some have higher prevalence; it is the discovery of the hot water); and so I had a number of alternative plans to escape the British Isles, as I do every winter; my normal winter in the Alps. I spend an overall four weeks in various Alpine resorts, back and forth from one of my homes (a few details omitted here, just in case it causes me trouble). These winter sports (skiing, climbing, running at altitude) in the open wilderness of the mountain is a sort of spiritual activity for me, the yearly reboot of the unbreakable kernel. I have been going up and down these mountains for the past million years; and I will always keep going up and down these mountains; nothing is going to break my spirit; certainly not those lefties using a stupid respiratory illness to make the world more congenial to them. I don’t keep any of my skiing and climbing gear in the isle; I had to go to pick up those, before heading to Switzerland, the only country keeping its mountain resorts up and running this year. The three alternative routes I had in mind were (i) the Baltics, which would have entailed at the least three flights; (ii) the French route, all by train; and (iii) flying through Prague. Routes (i) and (iii) would have not required a Covid test, for a traveler only transiting through those places; route (ii) would have required one. Before leaving the isle I had bought tickets for travel through (iii) on the 4th; and a ticket for the early part of (ii), the train from London to Paris, on the following day as a backup option. The flight to Heathrow in the ERJ-145 had been incredibly smooth and I took that as a good omen (wishful thinking in light of what follows). Went from Heathrow to Luton by underground and train through a mostly deserted London like one of those day-after movies (the sick show of all those empty trains). As soon as I arrive at Luton, a reality check comes down hard on me. One hour earlier the Czech authorities had rang up the airport: only Czech citizens and those with a demonstrable Czech residence permit could fly from the UK; that call had just arrived to spoil my whole journey and make it so much harder than I had hoped. Stranded at Luton, I decided that the best course of action was having the antigen test, being it needed for the French route (two hours standing in the cold open space of a car park to have it done; and charged twice the cost on my credit card as the connection had fallen shortly after entering PIN and there was not certainty the first transaction had gone through). Already mid afternoon, I was growing so uneasy and impatient with the idea of having to wait until next morning to catch the train to Paris. UK news were prospecting an imminent third lockdown, which could have made travel out of the UK even harder or impossible; I had to get out of the UK ASAP. I improvised a fourth escape route, I had just found about it online: a bus from Bulgarian company Union Ivkoni leaving from London at 22 pm and travelling all the way to Sofia (my intention being jumping out at Bruxelles to catch a train): most unhinged fellow travelers I have ever been with (believe me I have seen it all, like Ukrainian trains during the war with Russia five years ago). At Dover, the bus could not go through because the UK government had just shut the Covid testing facility in there for anyone but truck drivers (another critical change of policy just a few hours earlier). Only four passengers on that bus had a viable Covid test. A French nurse, among the most disquieted and inflamed passengers, called the police, and that police, understanding the unmanageable situation of the bus, directed it to a couple of other places, which also, it turned out, could not offer tests to anyone else but truck drivers. Comes the morning, I had managed to ramp up the hysteria of the French nurse who, through various threats, bullied the bus driver into bringing the two of us to Dover train station. Jumping out of the bus and catching a train from Dover to London, me and her. She continued to Coventry, her place of work (much better pay than France she said). The whole train, me, the French nurse, and five cops telling me that even with a nearly empty train, I still had to keep the bloody mask on. Back to London, I headed to St Pancras (shocking, those huge stations empty of people, apart the police at every corner directing one’s path through the station with a sense of urgency) and caught a train to Paris Gare du Nord. France only permits limited categories of people to arrive from the UK, such as transport workers or those who normally live in France. Armed with the Antigen test, two passports and one national ID card, and a convincing story, I talked my way through French border control. Then, all the way to the other side of Europe by train. Stopped for a few hours in Frankfurt and changed station before catching an overnight train. Came across one rave in the underground levels of Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and two in the underground levels of Frankfurt Sud; all music and drinking to cheer one up. Later on two polizei, not believing my explanations and obviously disliking my freewheeling spirit, kicked me out of a train; and of course I went on by catching the next train. Had two nights sleeping in a proper bed of mine, then, on the 8th, headed to Zermatt. As soon as I got that message in my mobile “Welcome to Lietchenstain” I knew I was safe and, thanks to OBB trains’ WiFi, booked four contiguous weeks, until the 6th of February; had not wanted to take the chance of wasting thousands of pounds with reservations I could not use (the back and forth between home and a ski resort across international borders is obviously not viable this year). Arrived at Zermatt in the early morning, knowing that the apartment was not yet ready, I left my stuff in the deposit facilities of the train station and headed straight to the slopes. Of the previous six nights only two had been slept on a bed; one had been slept on a bus, one on a train, the other two, including the one of the trip to Zermatt, not even tried to sleep. A few days later I joined a group of French skiers. In a godola of the Matterhorn Express a French couple were arguing with animosity about something. Then they gave me a mobile with two pictures of a shorthair tabby cat with golden stripes and asked me to judge which cat was better (he had a cat, and she had a cat, though I could not tell one from the other). Normally I would have declined the invitation to join a group of people I don’t know (and even those I know); made an exception this time. Dear control freak Chief Minister, I am living with the virus and I am much happier with this virus than under your crass obliteration policies. It is my choice, my life. Zermatt usually attracts a mature international clientele, which hasn’t turned out in significant numbers this year. France, Austria, Italy, Germany have all shut their own resorts; and thus the Swiss ones have been a watershed for die-hard skiers, usually in the prime of their years, from Switzerland and neighbouring countries; but there seem to be only so many of them who can travel or foot the bill; and so overall attendance to the resort and the skiing facilities is about one third of the normal, from what I can see. I had an early clue of the different crowd this year when I bought a ticket on the panoramic train between Visp and Zermatt two days in advance, and a 1st class ticket was being given away at 10% discount to a 2nd class one. I would rate half of these skiers between good and expert level; rarely saw anyone falling ad rolling down the mountain. Apart from the days I have been with the French skiers, I usually have a whole 8-person gondola or a 6-person chairlift all for myself. And the snow remains well groomed in the afternoon. For a month before I left the isle, I had been watching with growing concern the number of Swiss coronavirus deaths climbing to over 150 per day, while keeping a side eye on web-page “zermatt.ch”; and every time there had been that reassuring upfront message: “The whole of Zermatt’s mountain railway and cable car infrastructure is sill available to guests to guests this winter, blah, blah, blah” to keep my hope alive. In the end the powerful Alpine cantons of the Helvetic Confederation had their way and made the point of keeping the whole show running. The few restrictions come from Swiss federal government, which anyway has made it clear that its aim is not to eradicate the virus but to keep hospital loads manageable. All non essential shops are all open. The only things that are shut are night-clubs and restaurants outside hotels are only open for takeaway. Furthermore, there are no restrictions on personal freedoms, you can travel and meet whomever you want to meet. I saw the local police only once; it was overseeing emergency civil engineering work in the river that cuts through the village. I cook my own food and have no time or interest for going out in the evening; couldn’t care less for current restrictions on apres-ski. This isn’t only about winter sports; it is about sticking a finger to those lefties who thought about using the virus to deplete our net-worth and degrade our livelihoods (by the way, I am not regarding the Chief Minister as one of those lefties; he doesn’t seem to think much about anything). Repressive government is creating a new class of common herd pigs, usually marooned in their native lands, hardwired to state TV’s dumb news feds, staying at home all time just waiting to be fed by their next Tesco delivery. As opposed to those who instead can get away from all of it; or at the least capable of minimizing the effect of the repression on their lives. If the repression is pushed further, the end result will be a final separation: the pigs in their pigsty and the free spirits in the liberal jurisdictions of the world. When you engage in all those lockdown rituals and then join the orderly queue of the vaccine, that Eucharist to make peace with the powers that be, think about me skiing down those slopes shaded by the Matterhorn or running up the glaciers of Monte Rosa. The stay-at-home deprived of physical exercise looks so right to those who have unhealthy lifestyles by habit and are so mean and hypocrite as to want everyone to become the pig they are. IOM’s zero Covid delusion, with its obvious implications, the travel restrictions, the jailing of dissidents etc, makes the island of little value to the kind of people who can choose where to live and what to do in life. You may not like to hear it, or you may not care about it, but that is how it is. The island will be poorer and its population older and sicker (forget the TT as well). I am not writing this to scorn you; it is more because of a mixed feeling of anger and sorrowfulness about the isle. I keep telling myself, it is a temporary aberration, it will pass.
  6. I saw this question now, the one quoted on top, and I reply to it belatedly. That posting, the one which started this thread, is from last April, which is ages ago as concerns Covid. If I had to rewrite it retrospectively and make a list of countries that have handled the pandemic more sensibly and realistically than us, from my point of view, I would include Switzerland and Japan; placing Switzerland on top of the list, as a model of civilised response to a pandemic with the epidemiological profile of Covid-19. Absolute minimisation of Covid fatalities was never my concern. Prioritisation of Covid before anything else is cutting off an arm to remove a pimple. You can’t dispense with the dignity of the person, treat people like cogs of a machine for the sake of a superior imperative. It doesn’t even save lives, once the effect on the health care system and long-term government financial ability to provide that health care is factored in, if an honest balance sheet of Covid response is ever calculated. That balance is actually very negative. Hong Kong has not been a champion of pandemic liberalism. However, it had only limited restrictions on personal liberties: masks, quarantine for incoming travellers and mandatory testing when requested by the authorities. There have not been mandatory stay-at-home orders, restrictions on movements, or other limitations of basic personal freedoms within its territory. Since the beginning, it explicitly ruled out the tool of lockdown, which it saw as hitting harder on the disadvantaged portion of its society. For short periods it closed down or restricted parts of its hospitality industry, but apart from that, it maintained itself functional throughout the pandemic. It has had 112 Covid deaths so far. And Singapore, with slightly harsher policies, had 29 Covid deaths so far. Even Singapore always maintained itself functional, with only limited and very temporary closures of the riskier parts of its hospitality and leisure industry. Switzerland only introduced mandatory masks in shops lately and apart from that, it has not had any mandatory restrictions on personal liberties (no mandatory stay-at-home or avoidance of travel, no restrictions on meeting others etc). Furthermore, it has maintained nearly unrestricted travel across its borders. There have been restrictions on its hospitality and leisure industry during both in the first and second wave; anything else has been maintained open and functional. The Swiss are perhaps the most exposed among European countries, for being so connected to their neighbours. There is such a huge traffic across their border every day for work or other essential reasons. The Isle of Man is in a different situation than the above mentioned countries, not least for being an island on the hedge of Europe. For us the options were what I elaborated on my posting of the 5th of November at pag. 602, which I report in the above as a quote. If the IOMG had adopted a liberal policy to handle the emergency of this new virus: social distancing on an entirely voluntary basis, some restrictions on the riskier part of the hospitality industry, travel almost unrestricted; the number of Covid fatalities would have been much less than people think, for the reasons that I elucidated in that posting. I say in there that the number of Covid fatalities on a per-capita basis would have been half way between us (or Jersey) and the case of San Marino. That estimation is remarkably close to the IOM per-capita equivalent of Switzerland and Sweden: 5,314 (Swiss fatalities) / 8,545 (Swiss population) x 85 (Manx pop.) = 53 Max equivalent fatalities and 7,067 (Swedish fatalities) / 10,230 (Swedish pop.) x 85 (Manx pop.) = 59 Manx equivalent fatalities, respectively. Outside of care homes the virus doesn’t kill much more than a bad flu season. Do we have a difference of opinion arising from a difference of ideology, or from a difference of estimation? Did you lockdown and close the border to save 1% of our population, which is 850, as some of you have hinted; or to reduce the fatalities count by 30 or 40, a figure in the ball park of a bad flu season? I would have been less upset if a conscious decision had been made. And I don’t think that the whole lockdown policy would have had as much support if there had been a good understanding of the actual pandemic profile of Covid. The difference of opinion is also coming from the kind of life and priorities one has. I usually spend most of the winter away from the British Isles and this year I was back on the island on the 11th of March, on this isle since then: since then I went into a pub once. I haven’t set foot in a disco or night club in many years. I would have preferred living with some restrictions on hospitality and leisure – I use almost none of it when I am in my normal place of residence – and having unrestricted travel in return. There is my usual international travel, which is lifestyle rather than need; but it also has been a problem being cut off from the London office for so long. Of course I keep berating retirees who have too much time at their disposal and spend it on social booze in pubs that need to be Covid-free to be safe for them. Mind how much that Covid-safe social booze in your beloved island is going to cost you; if you ever collect a pension, and you find out that it is not keeping pace with the real cost of living; or if you ever need to treat a cancer, or some old-age cognitive degenerative condition, and you find out that the NHS can’t afford treatment with new generation of drugs. You see, as long as the trade-off is understood, if you say “I wanted my Covid-free pint in a social setting so much; I am fine with a meager pension and a health care system what it is”; that is fine, we can just agree to disagree on the priorities of life, and the discussion is closed, no point keeping adding to this thread indefinitely.
  7. Oh gosh, you are so deluded! You see the whole problem from the perspective of an islander retiree whose life (social, economic etc) is nearly all comprehended within the perimeter of the island; apart from a few holidays. You appear not being able to even consider that there might be a different point of view, as legitimate as yours. I am not going to get into the bragging game of academic and professional qualifications. Nonetheless, among my circle of middle-aged accomplished globetrotters, there is not one, not one of them, who has a substantially different opinion on the virus, this virus... the idiotic government response to this virus; the vexatious issue of mandatory vaccinations. They all had MMR on their children without hesitation. They all would set off a bomb (or fund someone to do it on their behalf; better!) rather than having a Covid vaccine pumped into their body. Because, they cannot live in a world in which the government has so much power on the individual. – We never had so much argument about all the other viruses and vaccines, prior to Covid; those are legitimate health issues. We are having so much argument about Covid, because Covid is politics. Most leaders of the part of the world we regard as “free” (laugh…) have clearly stated that Covid vaccinations won’t be made mandatory. Neither by direct legislation, nor by indirect coercion through travel restrictions etc. I won’t quote the Trump administration, obviously, though you know where America stands (the US is too divided to agree on any coherent Covid policy); just three other meaningful examples. The Swiss government has stated on a number of occasions that any Covid vaccine will be voluntary. Specifically, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has recently said: “Swiss law does not allow us to force someone to get vaccinated against their will; and there is no plan to change that legislation”. You said that all but a tiny percentage of people agree with your point of view. Well, in Switzerland, only half of the population is eager to have the Covid vaccine; and 2/3 of Swiss are against making it mandatory. Read it by yourself here: https://lenews.ch/2020/10/09/coronavirus-half-would-take-vaccine-in-switzerland https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/can-switzerland-convince-its-people-to-take-the-covid-19-vaccine--/46169830 You would find similar statistics about public opinion in the US; on the issue of Covid vaccines. Boris Johnson, during his most recent – absurd – fortnight of Covid self-isolation (which happened about two weeks ago) made this specific statement in an online conference: "Let's be clear, there will be no compulsory vaccination. That's not the way we do things in this country.” UK law forbids compulsory vaccinations. It explicitly states that the government powers to prevent or mitigate the spread of a pandemic infection cannot include mandatory requirements to undertake medical treatment and/or vaccination. The Coronavirus 2020 bill introduced in March 2020 restates this prohibition and extends it to Scotland and Northern Ireland. And, I believe there is enough rationality within CoMin to understand well the vexatious issues behind any policy of mandatory vaccinations. At the time in which Pfizer came out with its phase III result, I heard David Ashford on Manx Radio state that “you can’t make vaccinations mandatory” and that “there is so much we don’t know yet [regarding those vaccines]”. Historically, key areas of policy concern with CoMin have been the financial viability of the island as an independent entity; and preventing the island becoming a geriatric facility. As I had explained with my previous posting to this thread, there could be serious legal and financial implications with an outlier policy of mandatory vaccinations on this island. And any such a policy would trounce especially hard on young people’s rights and their likely point of view of the matter; considering that Covid is less dangerous than common seasonal flu for the under 40s. I think we can trust the legal and financial advisers of CoMin more than their medical counsel; and the sensitivity of MHKs’ antennae for protecting their pensions and those of their cronies; to do the right thing to protect those vested interests. If that is the case, I am perfectly comfortable with that; with being denied travel (from airlines etc) on THAT specific basis. I am absolutely happy with having market forces asserting themselves and regulating this matter! Bring it on. You see, in the real world, companies (and people) act according to self-interest.
  8. In 20s and 30s many authoritarians felt the elated confidence of those “on the right side of history”; the inevitable would finally come to their rescue. “The moustache has got to come” was their insipid motto; and for that they meant Stalin. Among the many, many things that they had failed to understand; it did not occur to them that those on the other side of the argument, those fighting to maintain their freedoms, could, very possibly, fight them to death. That they could be outgunned as per strength, intelligence and sheer determination. If drugs are due to be forcibly pumped into my sacred person; I say this: it is going to be incredibly bloody; you can’t even imagine. With Covid, the crux of the matter has never been the control of a virus. The left built a mental construct of Covid meant to finally prove the definite need of socialism; forcing most governments, including the UK, to position themselves along that axis. This island, due to its peculiarity, has been forced to choose a point along an axis which has insularity and nativism at one end; openness and prosperity at the other end. But I will leave aside the grand philosophical arguments for the time being. Compulsory vaccination would require international cooperation, analogous to the one the world has with travel passports. China has said it won’t impose Covid vaccination on its citizens (not a democratic country and thus relatively immune from the stupidity of populism). In the US it would be almost unthinkable as a federal policy; violent protest would erupt quickly. Many other countries have also excluded it. It would be extremely odd for the Isle of Man to strike on its own on this matter. Even the meatheads of Quayle and Ashford don’t have enough meat in the heads so as not to see the huge problems coming with such outlier policy. If there is one key area of policy concern with CoMin, it is their concern about the financial viability of the island as an independent entity. Drug companies have always been held liable for vaccine adverse events. With Covid, they had to be granted immunity from prosecution in the civil courts, or no such vaccine could have been developed and administered so quickly. As soon as the Covid vaccines will be rolled out on a vast scale, there will be cases of Guillain Barre Syndrome, transverse myelitis (read spinal cord damage), narcolepsy, and plenty of other nasties. I point to these two BBC links just to make one such example (the literature on vaccine adverse events is vast really): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-35494977 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21197394 If compensation cannot be dispensed from the drug companies, there will be a lot of pressure on the government to step in; even if those Covid vaccinations occurred on an entirely voluntary basis. Imagine, instead, on which pressure the government would find itself if it had practically forced its citizens onto those vaccinations by preventing the vaccine rebels to conduct a normal life… Which is why mandatory vaccination is never going to happen on this island as a solo policy move. Most unlikely also as a coordinated international policy. From a mere epidemiological perspective, there is no need of mandatory vaccinations to end this pandemic. Covid-19 would gradually fade away on its own accord, for being a coronavirus. There are four other coronavirus endemic in the human specie: NL63, 229E, OC43 and HKU1; causing one third of our damn colds. They are handled well by our immune system, in a natural manner; in due course, the course of nature, Covid-19 will be handled as easily as those other coronaviruses. Too much vaccination is simply not practical and difficult to justify on the basis of evidence. Please do not understand any of the above as an advice against having the Covid vaccine. Personally I won’t join the jab queue; it is too politicised and preservation of my individuality is an overriding concern for me. But me is me; others have to make their own mind. I am not disputing that the Covid vaccines can prevent Covid deaths.
  9. Thanks. For the time being, and for what I know, the so called “border force” is the only Covid legacy that IOMG has promised us; without clarifying what it would consist of precisely (and the head of the local constabulary is so keen to be put in charge of it). Of course my concerns span a whole range of other issues. At the least on the financial side the situation for the government is not as bad as initially feared; though the surplus is a backward-looking statement. A return to normality (our normality) would certainly be possible.
  10. The Isle of Man has been relatively well managed during past few decades. It has happened because of necessity, deriving from the peculiarities of its situation. And because of successive governments that saw their mandate and focus the best interest of the island, rather than fighting ideological wars or just fighting to hold their grip on power. There is a large constituency here that wants the island to be prosperous and successful, as a priority. This is not what happens in the UK often, where ideological and power struggles are the order of the day. The flaws of the present system are bloated government bureaucracy, poor value for taxpayer money, vested interests, dysfunctional and hypocrite health care service. You name it. But fortunately, not too much welfarism and consequential social ills, in comparison to other European countries. Improving on the flaws is politically difficult. Some of this economic dysfunction is seen as a trade-off for keeping the peace and other political priorities. My concern was how much of the good part can be retained in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. Many see the crisis as an opportunity for political change, in the direction that of course does not look good to me. For instance, unrestrained public spending funded through quantitative easing, an euphemism for “printed money”, which is what is now happening in the UK on a large scale, is not a system of governance compatible with the viability and independence of this island; nor with other policies that have underpinned prosperity on these shores so far. We can be insulated from the UK only up to a certain point. Furthermore, the crisis has brought here a reversion to nativism and insularity that has simply horrified the non-Manx-born of libertarian complexion.
  11. Candice Swanepoel does not need a ventilator or ambulance in standby because among the under 40s a Covid infection is less dangerous than a seasonal flu; a risk far too remote to worry about. Indeed, it is not a rational fear for most of us, if the concern has to be ramped up to the point of imposing drastic change to habits and lifestyle. An authoritative study commissioned by the WHO and now peer-reviewed and accepted for publication has estimated COVID-19 infection fatality rate (IFR) across 51 locations, deriving a median rated of 0.27%; corrected as 0.23% according to their methodology. Here is the study: https://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/BLT.20.265892.pdf and below is a pic of the first page of that paper. In my third posting to this thread dated 28 April I had estimated Covid IFR to be somewhere between 2 and 3 times the flu’s, i.e., between 0.2% and 0.3% (allow me to take credit for that early assessment). In reality, the IFR could still be lower. Studies so far have focused on what can be measured easily, i.e., the antibodies. But there are a number of different ways in which our immune system deals with pathogenic agents, and plenty of clues that this is the case with Covid. The IFR is possibly not much more than the common flu. Scaremongering UK media often reports an IFR of 1%. One week ago Neil Ferguson was on the BBC talking of an IFR well above one per cent. His credentials are estimating 40 million deaths in the world this year, when we had 1.2 million so far. And violating lockdown rules by meeting his married lover (2nd pic shows Google’s result of “married lover”). Who is so stupid to listen to him when he preaches the morality of lockdown? Or anything else he says frankly. And would you trust Boris Johnson to stick to lockdown rules with your wife? Or acting on any other kind of genuine morality concern rather than crude political calculation? I read a few bit and pieces of the thread on the spat between Chief Minister and Dr Glover. I am glad that the duo Quayle-Ashford is seen by most posters the way I see them. Halfwits woefully unable to deal with the crisis in a competent and honest manner. One poster caught my attention, Roger Mexico at pag. 20 of that thread: This is about whose advice is taken and how policy is made and carried out. Dr Glover wasn't complaining that she hadn't been given an MBE or a pay rise, she was objecting to the fact that her advice and those of others hadn't even been asked for, never mind taken, in deciding what the testing regime should be. Despite what Ashford (and a lot of people on here) seem to think, scientific advice can't just be one competing interest among many – not that they seem happy with even that. Scientific advice has to be at the heart of the process because it's about what will work or not. It's not just about input, it's about assessing the various options to see what the consequences will be. You can't produce policy based on what you would like, and then complain about it resulting in predictable outcomes that you don't like. Though admittedly that's what a lot of governments and people are trying to do. But viruses will continue to do what they do, no matter how many [anonymous] e-mails you read out. I think that the choices regarding Covid were always and inescapably political. But it is worth to ask how the kind of elected officials we would like to have would have dealt with the issue. They would have had the cognitive ability to figure out the viable options, and the honesty and communication skills to explain those to the public, so that policy aims and trade-offs were manifest. In case of the Isle of Man, I will describe in the following the three main alternatives. The first option is what IOMG has done. Clear the virus from the island at huge cost; keep the border closed to prevent any resurgence of community spread; eradication, swift punishment of dissidents. Yes, I know the border is only closed up to a certain point. It is closed enough to prevent all routine back and forth travel. The winners are those suffering from Covid phobia and the few parts of the hospitality industry (pubs and discos) that could have had some restrictions placed on them (minor restrictions in specific case of Jersey). The losers are all residents who needs to travel and, in various degrees, all businesses that are not entirely island-based. The second option is what Jersey has done. Manage an open border through extensive testing and tracking. We know for sure, from the fact that Jersey has done it and we can observe the result, that the number of Covid fatalities adjusted for population size would have been the same. Winners and losers are swapped in respect to prior case. It is worth asking what would have happened if IOMG had done much less: some initial mitigation effort followed by a nearly full reopening; no border closure; little or no testing of border crossings; that is the third option I am considering. San Marino, a land-locked micro-state of central Italy is one such example. I should have thought it by myself; I have been there a couple of times and I am aware of their history and system of governance. It was brought to my attention by a Daily Telegraph article a few days ago: “Tiny San Marino irks Italy with relaxed restaurant lockdown rules”. The article continues by saying that San Marino has provoked the ire of Italy’s policymakers by allowing bars and restaurants to stay open until late; unlike those across the border in Italy, which have to close by 6 pm and suffer from plenty of other restrictions. With no border controls of any description, Italians just drive across the border to have an evening pint with mates. Cheers. San Marino covers a land area of 24 sq miles, has population of 33,5K and, unlike the Isle of Man, has sovereignty. It is relatively prosperous but with a run-of-the-mill kind of economy, which is not propped up by an influx of wealth residents with far away investments and business interests (what happens when you orbit a country like the UK with 0% corporation tax and 0% CGT). There is some offshore banking industry; tourism and hospitality are their most important source of revenue. Facing the choice between widespread bankruptcy/penury and tolerating more Covid deaths, it chose the latter. Initially there was lockdown-lite more similar to the Swiss than to the Italian one; then a full reopening with no border controls and it hasn’t looked back since. And more people died indeed. It has had the second in the world per-capita number of Covid cases and 42 deaths. Adjusting for population size, the IOM equivalent would be 108 deaths. However, IOM is in the middle of the Irish Sea. We don’t, and can’t possibly have 1/3 of our population crossing our border every day. Nor we live into the multi-generational households that are typical of Southern Europe. Nor, most of us, have so many daily interactions by virtue of working in hospitality. I think, as a fair guess, we would have had half of that number of Covid fatalities. Somewhere between 40-60; at the bottom of that range if effort was put into testing incoming travellers and tracing the social connections of the infected. The looser of this freedom-fighter kind of policy would have been those who have irrational fears about Covid and want the illusion of an entirely Covid-free world. The winners would have been practically everyone else. IOMG went for option 1 because it had an easier political justification and it knows the island can possibly afford the cost. But that cost is truly very high and it will result in meager pensions, reduced general welfare and poorer quality health care for many years to come; and certainly many more premature deaths along the line than the liberal third option on the above. Has there been any effort to quantify that and communicate it to the public? If the public had been aware of the options there would have been less blinkered support for the first option. Much less. The communication skills of Quayle and Ashford went into overdrive for the character assassination of Rachel Glover; with the pantomime show of the anonymous letter read by Ashford on Manx Radio and their pathetic emissary on Manx Forums denigrating Ms Glover, also anonymously. Most of the other times, those communications skills have been kept hidden from us. Beyond the hit to government finances with the consequent long-term degradation of health care services and general welfare, a more corrosive environment is the hidden cost of these policy failures: it happens when those of a more rational predisposition loose confidence and respect of the system trying to control them.
  12. Good news. Travel from the Isle of Man to anywhere in the world accepting incoming flights is still allowed during the very soon coming UK lockdown. We aren’t been kept prisoners on the island. During UK lockdown, it is not possible to book any flight departing from the UK and leaving the UK. Nor any international buses leaving the UK. Only Eurostar is apparently still selling tickets from London to Bruxelles and Paris; but presumably it is going to be tightly controlled. They might allow me to go through for having dual nationality if I give them a good story; it would be a big risk to take considering the implications of returning here if they don’t. However, there are plenty of connections if you leave from Jersey or the Isle of Man. See flight schedule below as an example. I have started booking my ski holidays for the months of January and February and have little illusion that UK travel restrictions will be lifted by then. Normally I am away for the winter and spend four weeks up in the high-altitude ski resorts of the Alps; the remaining time being spent in a place I have equipped as an office. I will need a couple of international borders to stay open; not just being able to leave the UK. And the ski resorts to be up and running. They are open now: the second pic shows skiers on the glaciers above Solden a couple of days ago. I booked the first two weeks with the option to cancel on the 28th of December and will make final decision at the last moment I guess. If you let the government win, we are all cogs in a machine. I care about my own individuality and right to choose. The virus has got its own issues but it is not as bad as a totalitarian state. Down with Boris Johnson and his lockdown henchmen.
  13. Please see graphs below (daily fatalities in Sweden vs Czech Republic). No sign of a second wave in Sweden yet; not even the hint of a ripple. And there winter is coming sooner and harsher than here. And by the way, Sweden is actually more urbanised than the UK: a higher percentage of its population lives in cities. Sometimes I wonder what amount of evidence will it take to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Sweden is not the only country in which herd immunity has made its work; there are much more significant and proven examples from an epidemiological perspective. In South Africa and the large metropolises of India, for instance, the pandemic has already ended or coming to an end soon: their governments’ sheer idiocy has forced their populations to live indoor into such cramped living arrangements, or into those long queues for almost any daily necessity... which has greatly facilitated the spread of Covid (no joke, that is what their epidemiologists say). Though, their infection fatality rates have been very low, well below seasonal flu IFR, due to cross-immunity from the other coronaviruses. Even HIV doesn’t make you weak as concerns Covid, only fat and the hypocrisy of the welfare state does! It seems that destitute populations living in cramped conditions are more robust to Covid, while the isolated ones are vulnerable. And thus isolation begets more isolation. There is no doubt in my mind that our insular-minded government is making long term harm to our health and wellbeing by cutting off this island from the world. Please give one example, one historical case of a population that has isolated itself and whose splendid isolation has brought it better living conditions and better health. Not to mention a system of human governance having a considerate balance between public and private interest. In the meantime, a disheartening conviction has been missed on this thread: the case of that 42 yo Douglas woman who, to escape her drunk partner, presented herself to a homeless shelter and, having spontaneously explained that she had returned from the UK a few days earlier, has been punished by our authorities with a four week jail term; for not hiding her unfortunate circumstances. I wonder how many of us, facing family conflicts or other unfavourable conditions of life, have ever, even for a moment, contemplated taking refuge into a homeless shelter, even as a theoretical possibility. I don’t know anyone personally. Setting aside the issue of the callousness of similar convictions. Among the half of IOM population that is non-Manx born, many, if not most, will not understand insularity and will have serious problems adapting to it if it is brought to the extreme. Some came here because they saw a certain system; others did not make an entirely conscious decision, but their employers did for sure. Now it is introduced such a fundamental change as pulling up a drawbridge that many of us had not even noticed… It is absolutely enormous and it hasn’t yet sank into everyone’s mind how enormous it is. Checks and balances have gone. It takes Lord Sumption lecturing in Cambridge to remind British people of the enormity of the situation, that Covid measures will be seen as “monument of collective hysteria and folly”. Lady Hale, another supreme court judge, has recently joined him with the same criticism. But if Sumption‘s legalistic and constitutional (as well as sociological and historical and humanitarian) arguments are too much of an indulgence for our scientific minds, if you want one of the most coherent scientific disapproval of lockdowns, just look at the minutes of SAGE (including, yes, the opinions of those two disciples of lockdown Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance) in late March, just before Boris Johnson did actually turn on the lockdown switch and politics took over.
  14. The issues related to current border restrictions in the Isle of Man as compared to its Covid-nemesis Jersey have already been eviscerate with such comprehensive detail in this thread that there isn’t much that comes to my mind that hasn’t been said already. Nonetheless, I wish to point out that Jersey’s border policy is sustainable in the longer term, ours isn’t. Among the cacophony of Covid restrictions and lockdowns, revised and updated on a daily basis in the main island of our archipelago (quite ridiculously); here are two focal points of a factually-based perspective: 1) Covid fatality in the world is much less than people think and than what would be implied by our draconian policies. On the 5th of October the WHO came up with the truly alarming “best estimate” that 10% of world population has been infected with virus (1st pic below). World population is 7.8 billion people and Covid deaths so far have been 1 million. The implication is that Covid fatality is 1 / 7,800 = 0.13%, in the ball park of seasonal flu fatality. And note that flu is endemic and thus its fatality is reduced by heard immunity that has built up over a very long time; a virus like influenza would kill hundred of millions in one sweep if the world had not seen it before. Covid is this bad in an absolutely virgin population and hence bound to get much less bad with time. Its long term value is little more than cold (as with the four other cold-inducing human coronaviruses). 2) Countries in which the pandemic has been less politicised and that have adopted liberal policies, relying on individual responsibility and social distancing on a voluntary basis, have fared much better than the UK. In particular, allowing (or at the least tolerating) Covid to spread among the healthy and not too-old leads to lesser overall fatality because accumulated herd immunity cocoons the vulnerable and brings the pandemic to an end sooner. There is little evidence of a meaningful second wave in the two European countries that have had the most liberal policies: Switzerland and Sweden (2nd and 3rd pics below). The case of Switzerland is a particularly remarkable example, because it is a landlocked country surrounded by countries that had crudely repressive lockdowns and that are all now experiencing second waves. Furthermore, Switzerland is the most connected country, with greater traffic of people in or out than any other country around it. Isolation doesn’t seem to work thinking long term. The scientific case behind the 2nd point is obvious and had to be expected from what we already knew about viruses, from the experience of managing a large catalogue of infectious diseases so far. I would suggest reading this paper published on Nature last August: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02400-7 Here are summary points of above paper: (i) there is strong immune response to a natural occurring Covid infection in most people, including high antibody levels and robust T-cell response; (ii) the waning of antibody levels does not necessarily lead to loss of immunity: memory B-cells can regenerate the needed antibodies when infection re-occurs (ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_B_cell); (iii) strong T-cell immune response can endure long after infection and in some populations is more common than antibodies seroprevalence (and thus estimates of infection fatality rates from seroprevalence of antibodies are over-estimations); (iv) immunity does not necessarily prevents re-infection but it predisposes to an asymptomatic or mild re-infection in the future; and (v) some populations have robust cross-immunity from other coronaviruses. We were told that herd immunity from natural infection cannot work, only a vaccine can give permanent sterilising immunity. But we know that there have only been a dozen of proven Covid-19 re-infections among 40 million known cases, and only one of them has been fatal. Conversely, just a few days ago the chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, has admitted that, based on what evidence is available to her now, a Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be only 50% effective and not able to confer sterilising immunity (just google it). Science books had to be rewritten to make the science agreeable to the politically correct narrative of Covid. Here is an example of the science prior to Covid: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6841076/2006-11-Disease-Mitigation-Measures-in-the.pdf a paper concluding that lockdowns do far more harm than good and that there is no historical evidence that lockdowns can reduce the death toll from a respiratory illness in the longer term. More recently the Lancet published a report on the Covid policies of some 50 countries: https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2589-5370(20)30208-X and it concludes that lockdowns have not been associated with decreased mortality from the virus. We are seeing acceptance of reality among many US states. Florida, a state regarded by some as vulnerable to Covid because of its large senior population, has determined that it will no longer attempt to control the spread of Covid-19 and has removed nearly all remaining Covid-19 restrictions: Florida Governor Removes COVID-19 Restrictions on Restaurants, Bars https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2020-09-25/florida-restaurants-can-now-operate-with-no-restrictions-governor-says With the exception of some coastal states with left-wing administrations (New York, California etc) the US is doing a Sweden by stealth. The left has concocted an alternative reality version of Covid, Covid immunity and Covid vaccines (Covid vaccines don’t exist yet so it is easy to fancy them as convenient); to justify the lockdown and consequent policies of heavy government intervention in the economy; which, it hopes, will be difficult to reverse when the pandemic subsides (it is actually hoped that the pandemic will last indefinitely). As concerns the strange case of the Isle of Man, I would not accuse Tynwald of malefic intent, nor intent ideological motivated in a meaningful extent, nor intent calculated as an equilibrium of conflicting forces as observed in Westminster. There has hardly been any public debate among MHKs about trade-offs and underlying assumptions of the whole policy; they have debated it nearly all of it behind closed doors; the public debate we have seen (in those Manx Radio interviews for instance) has been at the most simplistic level and focusing on specific aspects of the overall policy, such as the repatriation of residents excluded by the border closure or the consistency (or lack thereof) of IOM courts sentencing; rather than questioning the sanity of the main policy aim of virus eradication by mean of isolation. The alternative reality underpinning IOM Covid response has two pillars: the first pillar is that it is so great that we are a separate jurisdiction (a nation actually...) so that we have the option of controlling our border and shunning the dangers of the outside world, the horrible virus threatening our community; and the second pillar is, quite obviously, islander’s basic instinct: a civilised version of, as an extreme example, the Sentinelese throwing spears and arrows at any outsider approaching their beloved island, to express rejection of any alien contact (4th pic below). Guess what, just to stay on topic, the Sentinelese tribe is regarded by the WHO as extremely vulnerable for having no resistance to such common diseases as flu or measles, which would immediately decimate their population if contact with outsiders were made. If our border policy strongly discourages travel and outsiders indefinitely, we are heading precisely in that direction, of sickening inbreeding and vulnerability to pretty much anything alien, thus begetting even more isolation. And the crassest expression of the above described alternative reality: that thickheaded constable (which I won’t mention by name) declaring on Manx Radio his “surprise” at the level of enforcement needed to discourage violations of Covid regulations in the isle; with his other pathetic subconscious elaborations to justify the enforcement of policies that have thrown personal values and individual consent into the sewers: “We didn’t really want to do it...” Those are the dunces who are leading and controlling us. I have one proposal: let’s exile Howard Quayle and David Ashford to our alter ego island North Sentinel Island among the uncorrupted Sentinelese: the duo would find its most “natural” constituency; and we would be free to crack on with our lives.
  15. From time to time I have been paying attention to this thread I created last April. The discussion has evolved mainly onto the issues of the border restrictions and there has been an underestimation, in my opinion, of the problem of not been able to travel freely with the UK. Some business are simply not viable without freedom of movement. Some people also will find it very difficult for reasons related to their personal circumstances. I would guess, if you are a pensioner and most of you social life is on the island, this may not be apparent. I have absolutely nothing against pensioners rooted in the local community; but I wonder if they are the only kind of people we want to attract to the island. The government needs the revenue to fund the public services they use. Or their livelihood will degrade as well. Setting aside economic and quality of life arguments; from a mere public health perspective, our “protective bubble” is likely to diminish our immunological resistances in the longer term. Look at the example of the 1918 flu pandemic. Here is The Isle of Man Times (I guess, the IOM Today of one hundred years ago) bulletin of the death toll of that pandemic in the Isle of Man: The 98 deaths back then must be seen in proportion to a population that was little more than half current size; thus the equivalent death toll today would be two hundred deaths. And that flu pandemic was mainly killing people in their prime, those aged between 20 and 40. In comparison, what we have now, this Covid thing, is a bad strain of cold with lethal consequences for a few who would have died anyway soon, in most cases. Back then, older people had greater immunity because they had already been exposed to viruses with a similar genetic makeup to the H1N1 strain of the Spanish flu. Those aged 28-40 had an immunological blind spot because their first flu exposure had been to the H3 virus of the 1890 “Russian flu”, which had a completely different genetic makeup. What was so deadly special about that strain of influenza, in respect to those we have nowadays? Absolutely nothing. We know that because the 1918 bug was resurrected in 2005 by piecing together viral fragments from hospital specimens and victims buried in Alaskan permafrost; under conditions of maximum bio-security, which turned out to be unnecessary. If we were to infect us with that thing, it would do very little harm to most of us (for instance, I had the last severe bout of flu when I was seven, a mild one when I was nine, and absolutely nothing from there to my present middle age). Why? One hundred years ago there was not sufficient international travel and population density to sustain influenza as a seasonal recurrence. Populations of isolated regions would remain unexposed to those common and usually not dangerous respiratory illnesses and thus would not develop adequate immunological defences; and when a bad strain more contagious than the usual would come along, they would be devastated. As it happened to some Alaskan villages, where 2/3 of inhabitants were mowed down by the 1918 flu pandemic. That was the situation until the end of WWI. Since then, international travel and densely-populated city living have brought so much exposure to flu and related pathogens that they have become endemic; when a new wave of infection comes along, the general population reacts with stronger immune-resistance and thus serious illness is much less frequent. Another meaningful example is what has happened with Covid-19 in New Delhi, where, amazingly, one-third of its 20 million inhabitants have turned up positive to Covid-19‘s antibodies; and the fatality rate of the infection, must be mentioned, has been very low, 0.09%, well below the IFR of the common flu. It is thought that the crammed conditions of living in New Delhi had previously exposed its inhabitants to so much of the cold-inducing coronaviruses, the cousins of Covid-19, to produce robust cross-coronavirus immunity. For the time being the IOM government can get away with the border closure if people think that current travel restriction are a “once in a hundred year” event. If there start to be a suspect that it may be a recurrent policy, every time we have a bad flu season the border shuts for months; then, for many business, and for many people in the prime of their years, the isle would simply not be viable as a place to live and work. Recurrent borders closures would also led to generalised pathogenic-agent vulnerability and thus to a bad long-term health outcome (some immunologists says that exposure to the less pathogenic bugs keeps or immune system alert and fit to fend off the more serious illnesses). You may think that recurrent border closures are a far-fetched prospective. I hope so, but the likes of David Ashford would run a Covid dictatorship given half a chance; he is too dumb to admit it to himself and to recognise the consequences. What would have happened in the British isles if their authorities had adopted more liberal forms of social distancing, policies closer to those implemented by the likes of Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Japan? It would have made no difference to the UK death toll and only led to an extra few premature deaths in this island of ours. The Jersey case clearly shows that it is possible to manage an open border. Compare our quarantine policies with those of Switzerland. Currently, in Switzerland, there is no requirement to quarantine if returning from nearly all European countries. There is a list of countries deemed high risk; in which case one would be expected to “self-report” to the cantonal authorities and follow their directions. If they require to follow a period of self-isolation, that would not exclude going out for outdoor exercising or procuring food, if there is no other viable method to procure one’s food. Nobody has been prosecuted and jailed. That is what a liberal jurisdiction looks like. One day, when the crisis will be seen in retrospective and conclusions will be drawn, a telling statistic will be made: which countries have jailed the most for Covid-related offences. The Isle of Man will be straight at the top of the table of Covid jail sentences dispensed on a per-capita basis, the pole position of the whole world! That will be the record and distinction of our jurisdiction and it will bear on its reputation, in the eyes of those who have retained sense of logic and proportion.
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