National life is indefinitely postponed
How Britain, paralysed by fear, is closing itself down.
When the foot-and-mouth outbreak began, a ministry of agriculture spokesperson said, ‘We all have to play our part, whoever we are’. This is fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as broad areas of national life – from football matches to walks in the park to indoor bowling – are indefinitely postponed.
The spiked awards for the top Most Pointless Postponements, Precautions and Closures:
— British Isles International Indoor bowls series, Belfast, is postponed following a request from the Irish government;
— Magdalen College, Oxford deer park is closed to the public and all members of the university, aside from members of Magdalen (have they wanted an excuse to do this for years?);
— England-Ireland rugby match in Dublin is postponed (a measure not likely to deter the thousands of English supporters who have already paid for their tickets and might as well have a weekend away with their mates);
— English passengers have been made to walk through trays of disinfectant at international airports (as if they only had one pair of shoes).
spiked award for the Most Pointless Nearly Postponed:
— Cyprus-Ireland football match in Cyprus was nearly cancelled, as there had been one unconfirmed case of foot-and-mouth in Ireland (and none in Cyprus). Only after high-level meetings between the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland and representatives of the Cypriot government did they decide to go ahead (1).
National parks –
— The Forestry Commission – all its forests are closed to the public ‘as a precautionary measure’. This will be reviewed on 16 March
— National Trust – all parks, buildings and gardens have closed, apart from 16 town sites (2).
— Edinburgh zoo closed
— Paignton zoo closed
— Dudley zoo and castle closed
— Chester zoo closed
— Alton Towers’ pet animals area closed, after the 18 animals were slaughtered (3).
Public footpaths –
— Fines of £5000 can be imposed upon people proceeding along countryside pathways or bridle paths (4).
Local parks –
— University parks in Oxford have been closed
— Clissold park in Stoke Newington closed (5).
— Cheltenham Festival, one of the most important horseracing events of the year, has been postponed until April
— British showjumpers Michael Whitaker and Richard Davison have been forced to pull out of the Paris-Bercy international showjumping event.
— Six Nations rugby matches – games postponed include Ireland/England, Ireland/Scotland, Wales/Ireland
— Scottish rugby union – cancelled a number of games in infected areas, after advice from the Scottish executive.
— Scottish Second Division football match between Stranraer and Queen of the South is postponed
— Ashbourne-Shrovetide football match postponed
— Football Association of Wales has told teams in exclusion zones to postpone matches.
Country sports and recreation –
— Hunting by harriers, beagles, foxhounds and staghounds is called off
— Fishing is not allowed in areas of Herefordshire, Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire. Angling association has called on its members to stay out of the countryside
— UK Rambling Assocation has warned its members to stay out of the countryside.
— Reading marathon postponed.
Dog shows –
— Crufts – the UK’s biggest dog show due to take place at Birmingham NEC from 8 to 11 March, delayed until later in the year.
— The Countryside Alliance march, expected to attract up to 200,000 people, has been postponed.
Read more on the Foot-and-mouth issue
(1) See RTE website
(2) See National Trust website
(3) See BBC website
(4) See Countryside life goes on by Jennie Bristow
(5) See FMD: another outbreak of panic by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
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