Give me hugs over holidays as confusion reigns over trips abroad: Christa Ackroyd

Supermodel Kate Moss once said, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Well, this week as I embark on my first weigh in down at the local slimming club I can assure her she was wrong.

Holidaymaker queue to board a flight to Portugal as international travel restrictions to some countries were eased. Picture: PA

When the pandemic chips were down I, er, ate chips. When life seemed anything other than sweet, I ate chocolate. When I was happy I opened the calorific wine to celebrate and when I was fed up I opened the fridge to find solace in its comforting contents. In fact the fridge and I developed what could only be described as a decidedly unhealthy relationship, which quite frankly has to end and end now. It’s over fridge. We are parting company. Salad days are here again.

Why? Because I am a stone heavier than I was this time last year. And so what. Apparently that is the average weight gain in Britain this last year so I am working on the theory it could have been worse. What’s more I will hardly be ‘flaunting my curves’ to use a common tabloid parlance for a while.

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Beach ready? You’ve got to be joking. And not because of how tight my summer clothes are. Nothing, I repeat nothing, would persuade me to book a holiday abroad while we are where we are, and that is a long way from being out of the woods yet. But I totally understand why so many people have. Because they were told they could. And now apparently, they can’t, or they can but they shouldn’t. Or whatever the latest advice is since I began writing this column.

Holidaymakers arriving in Portugal earlier this week.

Just when the Government is on top of the vaccine roll out it once again shoots itself in the foot and all because it, or at least Boris, seems unable to say no, until it’s too late and then he says no because he is forced to. Why on earth on Monday did they go ahead with the opening up of international travel only to say within a couple of days they advise against it, or later that it’s not actually allowed for most countries we thought it would be, except in exceptional circumstances? But oh, it just might be in a few weeks time. I think that’s where we are at.

They couldn’t organise a sandcastle competition on a beach. They have executed more U-turns that a sat nav lost down a country lane. And all because Boris, being the libertarian that he is, doesn’t like rules and instead expects each and every one of us to do the right thing and use common sense. Which is fine if we actually know what the right thing to do is.

We get it. You wanted to restore our freedoms, all the things we missed, but we understood that in an uncertain world things change. And what has changed is the Indian variant. We are not stupid. And if the Government feels by admitting that it will open them up for criticism for not banning flights from Indian sooner, well the criticism is valid. So just tell us sorry things are different now, instead of shifting the goalposts and somehow accusing us of misunderstanding the rules. Because we didn’t. You said we could go as long as we quarantined and now we can’t apparently. Simple.

At least that’s how it appears to be. You can go to countries on the green list. Well that’s if those countries actually allow you in. Countries on the amber list you can also visit but not for a holiday, which they never mentioned at the start only that you had to quarantine on your return, just as the EU is preparing to let us in for exactly that purpose providing you have a clear test or a double jab. Confused? Absolutely.

Here is how it should be done. Week by week there should be a list of countries we can visit for whatever purpose based on infection and immunisation rates at home and abroad. Planes carrying people from countries where cases are still high and rising should not be allowed in. And certainly not given a few days grace to get home before a ban actually comes into place. End of.

At the start of the week I was ecstatic. By the end of it I was worried sick again living as I do between Kirklees and Burnley, where a rise in the rate of infections, particularly of the Indian mutation, has meant mass testing and open immunisation. But that is where we are.

So why are we risking it for a few days in the sun? Travel should only be allowed for people who have been vaccinated with the exception of children whom it is proved are not the ones spreading the disease. That would certainly put an end to ‘vaccine hesitancy’ if not having a vaccine meant you had to stay home. And before the younger ones scream that’s not fair, by summer at this rate we should all have been offered a vaccination so make your choice and make sure it’s the right one. Have the jab. The sooner we all do the sooner lists of any kind will be a thing of the past.

This week so much has been written and debated about who can go where and for what we appear to have totally missed the point about the importance of this latest step as we climb slowly out of the madness that has been coronavirus, even if it does seem two steps forward one step back.

This week should not have been about holidays. It should have been about hugging - the power of a squeeze, the joy of human contact. To be able to hug my grandchildren was better than two weeks in the Maldives, whichever list it is on. My first tentative hug with a friend outside my little Covid bubble felt strange and rather daunting... for about 20 seconds. Then it felt lovely and precious as did the chatter of friends (albeit six at a time) over a glass of wine (the diet starts next week).

Give me hugs over holidays any day. They make us feel warmer than the sun beating down somewhere on a list we can’t go to. At least they should.

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