We seem to have given up worrying about this virus now. They don’t even bother with briefings and numbers anymore, and if they do another one, it will involve Matt Hancock in a party hat saying: “A few more have croaked, I’ve no idea how many, it’s no one I know, so that’s the main thing. Still, it’s freed up a few places in care homes, they could rent the rooms out for bed and breakfast, now LET’S PARTY!”
Because they’ve worked out the most sensible thing to do is what people fancy doing, regardless of whether it will Covid the place back up again.
If there was an outbreak of leprosy, Dominic Raab would tell us: “The scientists suggest the disease is a little contagious, but on the other hand, lots of lepers really really want to go to the pub. So OFF YOU GO AND HAVE A BREWDOG FOR ME.”
If these ministers had been running the Soviet Union in the 1980s, they’d announce at the press conference: “Great news – the pubs around Chernobyl will re-open on Saturday. It’s been four days since the nuclear plant exploded but remember, it’s your duty to drink as much as possible, but try to stay six inches from fizzing bars of molten uranium.”
No one has a clue what the rules are, for example with masks. There’s no guidance about whether to wear one, which ones to wear, where to get them, how to put them on, it’s just “wear one if you fancy it”. Boris Johnson will probably announce: “I’m bored of masks, from next Tuesday let’s all wear a sombrero and the week after a false moustache and plastic breasts.”
The condition for everything opening was supposed to be the launch of the test and trace system, which would be a “game-changer” because our one was “world-beating”, we were told.
But now there’s a new outbreak of coronavirus cases in Leicester and the government has announced they have no clues at all as to where it’s come from. So for this system to be world-beating, how bad are the other systems? Maybe the German one explodes in your face and covers you with sick, and the Italian one stabs you in the arse and plays a medley of reversing lorry noises.
No one really knows the vague guidance rules for pubs, so in theory, only two households can meet at once, no one can drink at the bar and everyone should keep one metre apart. This cautious and tentative approach has been carefully distilled by the prime minister into the neat and delicate message: “GO AND GET RAT-ARSED TO SAVE THE ECONOMY. DOWN IN ONE, DOWN IN ONE.”
Even so, pubs are planning with the utmost care. I was told of one pub manager, who was asked whether they had a system of appointments or ordering drinks in advance, and how they would ensure customers stayed one metre apart, and they said: “We’ll see how it goes.” That’s the sort of precision planning that made D-Day such a success.
As we’re only dealing with a deadly global virus, there’s no point in getting bogged down in detail, is there?
Still, I’m sure everyone will stick closely to the rules that no one is sure of, and if 150 blokes watching the football are squashed together, there is sure to be a 19-year-old member of bar staff to advise them to all step back and they’ll all comply.
As we’re being extra-careful, theatres still can’t open. Some people suggest this is because opening pubs is more popular than opening theatres – but we shouldn’t be cynical.
It must be that theatres spread viruses quicker than pubs. When people in pubs open their mouths, the virus stays calmly inside, enjoying swilling about in lager. But when a comic or actor says something in a theatre, the virus becomes emotional, perhaps crying at the tragedy of the scene, making it liable to run across the seats, smearing bits of itself onto the lips of people with underlying health conditions.
This is the other reason pubs are the first places of entertainment to re-open, the people keenest to be in pubs the longest, are the fittest people in society. So if opening the pubs does spark a second wave, at least the people catching it will be finely toned muscular discus-throwers who are exactly the people to be desperate for nine pints of Guinness.
It could be argued the rest of Europe is nearly back to normal, so why not us? This is a fair point, as long as you ignore the fact that cases of the disease are lower in other parts of Europe, not here. It would be like someone asking “why can’t I go out in a T-shirt and shorts, they do in the rest of Europe?” when the answer is “because you live in the north of Greenland and it’s Christmas”.
So the rest of Europe has had far fewer deaths and been locked down for less. But we’re told this means we’re leading the world.
Does this happen in other countries? Does the Saudi Arabian government announce every day: “Once again, we are leading the world in home-brewing, bob-sleighing and radical feminism”, and everyone believes them?
In France, life is almost back to normal, they reached the point we’re at now on 11 May. But we’re “leading the world”, because in Denmark, they’ve stayed at zero deaths for a few weeks, but we may have gone down from 150 to 140 deaths a day, so beat that, you Vikings.
Maybe the most likely outcome is that we will all drop dead, so the EU takes us over, and under the terms of a no-deal Brexit, sells us to China for a fiver.