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England, Scotland re-enter full lockdown; citizens not allowed to leave home except for essential purposes

England and Scotland have re-entered national lockdowns effective Tuesday in response to a surge in coronavirus cases even as vaccines are being deployed throughout the United Kingdom.

The fresh restrictions come as the U.K. grapples with a new faster-spreading variant of the virus that has ripped through the nation of late resulting in seven straight days of 50,000 or more reported positive cases.

What are the details?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement Monday, ordering citizens stay at home unless traveling for essential purposes such as performing certain types of work, purchasing food or supplies, or exercising.

“I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this change will cause millions of people and parents up and down the country,” Johnson said in a national address, according to CNBC, adding that schools will also be closed for in-person learning.

“The problem isn’t that schools are unsafe for children … the problem is that schools may act as vectors of transmission, causing the virus to spread between households,” he said.

“The number of deaths is up by 20% over the last week and will sadly rise further,” he added. “With most of the country already under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.”

Health experts believe the mutated variant is up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus strain.

What else?

Earlier Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced that Scotland would re-enter a full lockdown.

Sturgeon informed the Scottish Parliament on Monday that schools will remain closed and that members of the public will be legally required to remain at home except for certain essential reasons, the Associated Press reported.

The aggressive move, which is slated to last at least until the end of the month, marks the second time since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 that Scotland has been essentially shut down.

“I can confirm now in summary that we have decided to introduce from midnight tonight for the duration of January a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes,” Sturgeon told Parliament. “This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.”

“I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” she added.

Anything else?

In his address, Johnson noted, “There’s one huge difference compared to last year. We’re now rolling out the biggest vaccination program in our history.”

The U.K. plans to vaccinate tens of millions of people in a matter of months, starting with frontline workers and the elderly before moving on to the rest of the public.

“If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups … that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long,” Johnson promised.

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Head of Scotland’s government gets caught breaking her own COVID-19 law: ‘This was a stupid mistake’

Hypocrisy among elected officials when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions they advocated for and put into place is enough to drive citizens crazy, and no population is likely experiencing that more today than the people in Scotland.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the head of nation’s government, was caught violating her own COVID-19 law, and now she’s issuing public apologies for the flub.

Join the club

The notion of “COVID rules for thee, but not for me” is something Americans have witnessed repeatedly from their politicians. The problem has been especially notable recently as the surge in the virus has led to more government-imposed restrictions.

  • No one will forget California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unmasked event at a fancy California restaurant.
  • Nor will folks from the Bay Area likely let news of San Francisco Democratic Mayor London Breed throwing a maskless party at the same restaurant a day later slip their minds.
  • Denver’s Democratic mayor, Michael Hancock, will long be remembered as the elected official who tweeted a warning to Mile High City residents to stay home for Thanksgiving just 30 minutes before his plane left to visit his daughter in Mississippi for the holiday.
  • New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was caught violating his own Thanksgiving advice by planning to have his 89-year-old mother over for dinner. He was shamed into rescinding the invitation.
  • Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, was forced to apologize after having the audacity to filming and sending a “stay at home” message to his constituents — from a tropical resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
  • And just a week ago, Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo was photographed at a wine bar not wearing a face mask days after telling Rhode Islanders to “stay home except for essential activities.”

It turns out, though, that embarrassing and glaring hypocrisy on COVID-19 restrictions is not a characteristic unique to U.S. officials.

What did the Scotland leader do?

The Scottish Sun reported Tuesday night that Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke her own mask laws Friday.

A “concerned member of the public” photographed Sturgeon chatting maskless at a pub in Edinburgh on Friday and shared the picture with the newspaper.

According to current Scottish laws, the Sun said, customers in “hospitality settings” — which would include pubs — are required to wear a mask unless seated at a table.

The photo published by the Sun showed a maskless Sturgeon standing and talking with three elderly women at the “hospitality setting” following a funeral wake that had taken place in another part of the facility.

Sturgeon, who has been a major advocate for masks and has repeatedly lectured about their importance, was extremely apologetic.

“Last Friday, while attending a funeral wake, I had my mask off briefly. This was a stupid mistake and I’m really sorry,” she told the Sun. “I talk every day about the importance of masks, so I’m not going to offer any exc­uses. I was in the wrong, I’m kicking myself and I’m sorry.”

Anything else?

According to the Sun, the law has been on the books for months:

The mandatory use of face masks for customers in hospitality settings has been law since September 14. It is now set down in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Schedule 7 of the law det­ails a “requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor places”, including rest­aurants, cafes, bars and pubs.

Violations of the law are punishable by an $80 fine, and penalties double for repeat offenders, up to $1,300, the paper said, adding that violators “can also be prosecuted for breaches, with unlimited fines.”

Around the time the photo was taken, Sturgeon also announced a draconian three-week lockdown that will start the day after Christmas.

She also ordered that Scots can meet with loved ones for Christmas for only 24 hours on Dec. 25.

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Scotland residents complain police are fining them for leaving home to buy wine, other nonessential items

Scotland residents are complaining that police are fining them for leaving home to buy wine and other nonessential items, Edinburgh Live reported.

Come again?

The outlet noted that a reader contacted the editorial staff to say she was fined 30 pounds (just over $30) for leaving her residence to buy wine and snacks.

“I was walking through Holyrood Park on Sunday afternoon (5 April) [when] two officers asked to look inside my bag, and then fined me for only having crisps, other snacks, and a bottle of wine,” she told Edinburgh Live.

A West Lothian resident tweeted that “two people I know in West Lothian: a nurse in uniform leaving a patient’s house and someone leaving a shop with just a bottle of wine [were] fined £30,” the outlet added.

Another woman tweeted a complaint to Police Scotland that her friend was “given a fine for buying a bottle of Prosecco,” Edinburgh Live added.

The outlet said United Kingdom lockdown rules set up last month state residents should be leaving their houses only for “very limited purposes,” among them shopping for “basic necessities.” The outlet added that that is causing confusion since there’s no list defining basic necessities.

The other side of the coin

It should be noted that the woman who contacted Edinburgh Live about being fined for buying wine and snacks admitted to the outlet she had refused to comply with the officers’ request to return home immediately.

In addition, a 41-year-old woman from York was fined 660 pounds (just over $825) and arrested by British Transport Police for “loitering” at Newcastle Central station on April 1, Edinburgh Live said, adding that she reportedly refused to tell police why she was traveling.

More from the outlet:

Elsewhere in the U.K., other people have taken to social media to complain about what they claim is a “heavy-handed” enforcement of the lockdown rules.

One London resident tweeted: “Police have just fined me for taking the dog a walk at this time of night.” Walking dogs is allowable exercise as long as you are from a symptom-free household and stay within walking distance of your home.

In the North of England, one man complained to Derbyshire Police that: “My wife was stopped as she got in her car after walking the dog on the way to do the weekly shop for us, her 74-year-old mother and a vulnerable neighbor. Officers not interested in reasons, they were rude, bullying, gave a £60 fine with glee.”

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England changes policy again to allow home medical abortions during coronavirus outbreak

The United Kingdom has changed its policy on home medical abortions more than once over the past month to adjust for the coronavirus pandemic — first allowing home abortions, then denying that they ever intended to make that switch. Now, England has decided to officially allow women to get abortion pills delivered to their homes after a telemedicine appointment, the BBC reported.

Advocates of removing obstacles for women seeking medical abortions say that the previous requirement for women to be seen in-person at a clinic before getting the abortion pills created risk due to the threat of COVID-19, especially for people with underlying health conditions.

The governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are now considering whether to change their policies to allow women to receive abortion pills after telephone or video appointments with physicians. Abortion was decriminalized in Northern Ireland last year, and women from that country often travel to England to obtain abortions.

A member of Parliament from Northern Ireland advocated for home medical abortions by citing an anecdote from pro-abortion organization Alliance for Choice.

Allegedly, a woman from Northern Ireland had an appointment for an abortion in England. Her appointment was canceled due to coronavirus lockdowns, so she went to a hospital in Northern Ireland to try to get the abortion there. The medical staff allegedly refused to give her an abortion, and the woman was hospitalized there the next day after a suicide attempt.

All changes to abortion policy in the U.K. are being called “temporary” at this time.

According to the BBC, medical abortions (available during the first trimester) are the most common method among the approximately 180,000 abortions each year in England. It’s a two-pill process. The first pill, mifepristone, blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone. The result is that the lining of the uterus breaks down, killing the unborn child.

The second pill, misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby, the embryo, the embryonic sac, and the uterus lining. This can cause heavy bleeding and strong cramps.

This writer’s perspective

Traveling during a pandemic can be dangerous for everyone, including and especially pregnant women. But an abortion is as much a loss of human life as a COVID-19 death is, and there is significant health risk associated with women taking abortion pills at home, potentially alone, after only a telephone conversation with a physician.

As governments around the world enact drastic policy changes with little evaluation or oversight, it will be important to watch in the months to come which allegedly temporary changes end up becoming permanent.

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Scotland’s parliament just voted to make pads and tampons ‘free.’ CBS News reported ‘the US could be next.’

Scottish parliament voted almost unanimously on Wednesday to provide “free” feminine hygiene products to anyone who needs them, by offering pads and tampons in certain public spaces to the tune of an estimated $31 million annually.

The move makes Scotland the only country in the world to offer “free” sanitary products to all women, and CBS News — citing a proposed bill by a Democratic congresswoman from last year — reported that “the U.S. could be next.”

What are the details?

Reuters reported that “The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill passed through its first stage with 112 votes in favor, none against and one abstention.” The second stage involves members offering amendments to the legislation.

As it stands now, the proposal would mean the Scottish government would pay to make sanitary products available free of charge at places like pharmacies and community centers “for anyone who needs them,” according to the BBC. The country already has a federal policy of providing such products at schools and universities.

The bill’s sponsor, Monica Lennon, celebrated the measure as a “milestone moment for normalizing menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality,” The Washington Post reported.

Scotland’s new law is in response to the movement against “period poverty,” the concept that not all women and girls can afford sanitary products. A gender-equality activist movement has taken hold of the issue, arguing that it is the government’s responsibility to provide feminine hygiene products to the public or at the very least reduce or remove so-called “tampon taxes” on such items.

According to Reuters, one demonstrator participating in a rally outside Scottish Parliament on Tuesday held a sign that read, “Access to menstrual products is a right. Period.”

CBS News reported Wednesday that:

In March 2019, Congresswoman Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, announced the Menstrual Equity for All Act, the first comprehensive bill to address the challenges that women and girls face in obtaining feminine hygiene products in America.

‘The fact that there are people who aren’t able to afford these products, and as a result, may miss school may miss work, face certain stigma — I think it’s a human rights issue that, especially in the United States of America, women should not have to be dealing with,’ Meng said.

Meng’s bill would make menstrual hygiene products free for women in prison. It would allow states to use federal funds to supply pads to girls in school. And it would require that these products be covered by Medicaid.

What CBS News did not report is that the last action on Meng’s bill was taken in May of last year, when it was referred to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

Nonetheless, CBS News wrote in promoting their story on the action of Scottish parliament’s “plans to make period products free for all women”: “Scotland is the first nation in the world to do so, and the U.S. could be next.”

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Nonbinary person complains of being asked, ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’ during haircuts, being forced into ‘female or male’ boxes. Reaction is brutal.

A nonbinary person was featured in a video earlier this month sharing the struggles of getting a “simple” haircut when those providing the service ask, “Are you a boy or a girl?” and also being forced to fit into society’s “female or male” boxes.

‘I’m some thing on the outside existing beside the world as it rolls by all pink and blue’

The unnamed person — who appears courtesy of BBC Scotland — complains that “I’m more of that ‘other’ (if that’s even an option) like I’m some thing on the outside existing beside the world as it rolls by all pink and blue.”

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

The individual also shares that usually there are two options when it comes to a haircut: There’s a salon, which oozes “that womanly world of perfumed femininity with which I feel like I have little affinity.” Then there’s the barber shop, “which isn’t much better since this voice and these swells in my chest make me feel like an infiltrator.”

The speaker adds that those providing haircuts often ask, “Are you a boy or a girl?” and “Am I trans, am I gay, and I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I pick my labels to make other people feel OK, but it’s never enough to say where I’d like to be trimmed or shaved … they need to know my sex.”

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

The person notes that haircutters say it’s the only way they can determine the appropriate rate, as women’s haircuts are typically more expensive than men’s.

In conclusion

The individual sounds a tad hopeful in the end, noting that in the last few years “drag queens” and “out queer celebrities” have made a big splash upon culture — and then finishes things off with a bang: “We’re queer, and we’re here … could you just cut our f***ing hair?”

Brutal response

A number of Twitter users didn’t hold back their contempt for the nonbinary person’s complaints:

  • “This really is the new Greatest Generation. My heart goes out to each and everyone of them. Haircuts are the new Normandy beaches.”
  • “Wtf is wrong with snowflakes? Just go to a unisex hair salon. It’s not hard is it.”
  • “Have we failed entirely as a society? Do we really now pay attention to people that feel unsafe & ‘unwelcome’ getting their hair cut? Does EVERYTHING have to be unisex to accommodate a tiny minority that keeps inventing problems on a daily basis? How about some gratefulness?”
  • “When life is too easy so you need to fabricate some form of struggle.”
  • “Please send this person to Venezuela for a month. People seem to have entirely forgotten what real problems look like.”
  • “I’m a women. About 4 years ago I had a mohawk with shaved sides, done by a hairdresser and maintained for a short while by a local barber. No one cared that I was a women, no one. I mean, absolutely no one objected to me having short hair in either the hairdressers or barbers.”

Oh, and this one:

(H/T: Louder With Crowder)