2021-The second year of the pandemic
The Third Lockdown-January 6th-July 19,
and after-July 20th-December 2021

The outlook during the early months of 2021 was not encouraging . Many had hoped that the worst of the pandemic would be over by the end of 2020, but contagion had returned to a high level. Somerset was faring quite well, but everyone knew that this could change rapidly.

The third national lockdown started on January 6th, despite an announcement that children should return to school after the Christmas break. Closed schools remained the position until  early March when a planned return for primary and secondary schools was announced.

Linda Vijay, our County Councillor, had studiously provided Covid updates on often a weekly basis, and these can be read by following this link-Click HERE.

However, as the vaccination roll out continued at great speed, and  the eligible age groups extended to the middle age groupsthe ‘R’ number did begin to fall , as did hospitalisation and the death rate. The vaccination strategy was working.


The test and trace scheme introduced
  in May 2020 was accelerated. Its purpose was to
help break chains of transmission and enable people to return to a normal way of life. At that time over 2.5 million  people  had tested positive for COVID-19 in England and more than 4.5 million of their associated contacts were advised to self-isolate. Use of this scheme, which had been extended to make use of a mobile phone app, was seen as a key part of controlling contagion rates. Use of this app among Winsham residents was commonplace, although not universal. The app was itself to create controversy later in the year;
it was alleged to have created labour shortages as a result of so many people self isolating by being alerted. Another problem it was alleged is that people discontinued using  the app, as they did not wish to be informed that they should self isolate, for fear of losing income, but thereby putting others at risk.


The third lockdown was different from the previous two. It continued until August 2021, but was interfaced with a  geographically based tier system, with different levels of restrictions, adjusted during that period for various parts of the country as area ‘spikes’ in infections occurred.

As the effectiveness of the vaccination and the ‘test and trace’ system  programme progressed ,restrictions were gradually eased, although these were often subjects of controversy. The entertainment industry and certain retail sectors were offered complicated options. The Bell ,as usual had to navigate its way through these. Generally things improved.  

On the 19th July 2021 most of the Covid restrictions were lifted, but everyone was warned to remain cautious and insisted that social distancing and masks were good ideas in crowded places. The Shop and Post Office, the Jubilee Hall, The Bell all supported these recommendations, although were powerless to insist upon them being followed. It was now the individuals choice.

The reaction from Winsham people was mixed. Quite large gatherings in the Jubilee Hall, and the newly formed Winsham Community Club saw very few people, if any wearing masks and social distancing. In other settings they were frequently used. It probably depended on the individual's perception of risk, associated with the group likely to attend the meeting. This was possible in small communities such as Winsham, but not so in large villages, towns and cities.

Deprived of social gatherings for a year and a half, Winsham residents supported the opportunities that the easing of lockdown provided, in the full knowledge that risk of infection was still there.

Winsham Horticultural Show was the first big open-air event held in the parish following the start of the pandemic. It took place on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August 2021. Very few wore masks, and Social distancing was, for the most part, ignored.

St. Stephen's Harvest festival was held at the beginning of October, with numbers limited to fifty. The Jazz band reflected the optimism! No masks were worn, by choice.

The Jubilee Cafe, closed for eighteen months made a tentative start towards the end of October, against the background of 50,000 infections a day. About thirty people came along-some wearing masks.


However, a hoped for smooth vaccine driven exit from Covid risk for Winsham took a severe blow when a rash of Covid cases towards the end of October, across the age spectrum,emerged. At one stage there were estimated to be eleven cases in the village. Some felt that this was linked to the school returning for the Autumn term, others blamed the onset of Autumn, when weather and living conditions appear to favour the spread of the virus. It resulted in several events planned for the period being cancelled, including the children's Halloween party at the newly instituted Winsham Community Club. Attendance at other events during this period was also generally lower than was usual, or anticipated. The mood was one of caution, especially among older people.

Nationally, the government pressed for eligible people-nearly everyone - to get the vaccinations if they had not had them, and those that were eligible to get the third booster jab. It was finding that the effectiveness of the two dose programme fell away over  a six month or so period, and a third booster jab was essential to maintain protection from the worst effects of the virus. Meanwhile, good progress was also being made with anti-viral drugs aimed at destroying the virus within the body, after infection.


However, in late November 2021 , a new variant of the Covid-19  began to appear in South Africa. It was proving to be highly contagious, but little else was known about it. Despite this, as Christmas approached the mood in Winsham was generally positive, with many social events and church events planned. The lighting-up of the Christmas tree was attended by a crowd of about 150 people of all ages. Generally masks were not worn. Several events centred around The Bell on either side of the Christmas tree event were also well attended. However, a very unpleasant visitor had arrived in the run-up to Christmas.

Click HERE to learn about what happened next.


Financial Implications for the people of Winsham of the pandemic

About a third of the residents in Winsham are retired, and assumed to be living on more or less fixed incomes, comprising State Pensions, additional work pensions, savings, investments  and capital. This group, generally speaking have not been hit too hard. Their concern is that emerging from the pandemic, monetary inflation will occur, reducing their income, unless 'inflation proofed', in purchasing power. This would not be limited to Winsham; it could impact on the UK as a whole

Working people, with perhaps children to support, fall into different categories. Executive and clerical grades often had had the opportunity to work from home. Others benefitted from the furlough schemes. Self-employed people operating trades have often been able to carry on with some difficulties caused by restrictions to access  and with less business around. Some  received very little support from the government.

Among the hardest hit have been people working in retail and entertainment.

The government introduced several schemes to minimise loss of jobs, including a furlough scheme aimed at encouraging employers to keep staff in employment even though they were unable to work due to the effect on business due to Covid. This was considered important not only for the staff receiving benefit, but to ensure, as far as possible that skills did not disperse, as they would be needed when recovery started, as the pandemic receded, and lockdowns ended.

Details of benefits provided are complex but are available on the internet.

Inevitably, poverty grew in Chard and other areas , mitigated in part by charitable organisations opening food banks. etc.

Enormous sums of public borrowing are being needed to meet the cost of the above benefits and other recovery  costs. This will be a problem for future governments, worldwide, as the true extent and impact of the pandemic is felt. It is generally expected that there are difficult times ahead, for most, as these debts are serviced, and perhaps, repaid. Winsham, although enjoying a rural setting will not be isolated from these problems.


Click HERE to return to Pandemic Index