By Liam Carr

As England departs its month-long so called lockdown, despite the only restrictions really effecting jobs of those in retail and hospitality as well as the social lives of us all, Essex will be placed into the Tier Two alert level of the government’s revised tier system.

As a result of this, officially, households are banned from mixing in indoor settings, apart from work and education of course, and other strict restrictions have been placed on the hospitality sector. These include shutting their doors at 11 PM, one hour later than previously allowed before the November lockdown with last orders coming at 10 PM, as well as the requirement for customers in such establishments to order a substantial meal with their alcoholic drinks.

However, it has since come out via the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, that a scotch egg “probably would” count as a substantial meal. The minister was speaking to LBC Radio in which he also said that drinkers would be able to finish their drinks if they have already finished their food, despite other government members saying the opposite last week.

So, in Tier Two Essex, it is not the most ideal place to be to go on a night out with friends despite various loopholes in the laws that do make it easier than the government may want you believe.

But Essex must seem like Heaven to punters west of the border in Wales. On Monday, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford stated that pubs, restaurants and cafes will be BANNED from selling alcohol completely and MUST close at 6 PM. Although they can operate a take-away service for food and no-alcoholic drink after that time.

Wales recently exited a firebreak lockdown of their own a couple of weeks into England’s November lockdown.

However, since then cases have started to rise again with the vast majority being in South Wales where much of that region is recording between 250 and 450 cases per 100,000 of the population. Across the whole of Wales, the most recently available stats show that 1740 people were in hospital with COVID-19 with 69 of those being in intensive care/critical condition. Some would argue that for a country with a population of over 3 million, these numbers are not justifying the strict policy which Mr Drakeford is pushing forward, punishing a whole industry for deaths which are barely over the average for this time of year.

The rules were justified by Drakeford saying that it could prevent between 1000 and 1700 deaths over winter.

Similarly to England, many are questioning whether this devastating blow to certain businesses will cause more harm than good when compared to the coronavirus.

Whether the measures have an effect in Wales, England or the whole of the United Kingdom remains to be seen.

Overall, despite up to four households being able to meet up in public indoor spaces in Wales, I would rather go out in Essex and take my chances of going out with more than one household/bubble, in comparison to Wales’ prohibition.