It might seem like an IQ test for entrance to a university but for those living in the United Kingdom it is just a list of the current rules for living with coronavirus. I say ‘current’ because the rules, like the virus, keep mutating.
As a start in the fight against coronavirus, and to protect themselves against police action, citizens of This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England should equip themselves with a stopwatch and a tape measure.
They can, for example, leave their home to buy tools and supplies to repair their garden fences but they cannot go out to buy paint and brushes to redecorate their kitchens. They can use a car to drive to a country walk – but only if the walk is longer than the drive. It is not clear how they are to measure the distance they have walked. And to make sure they are really confusing the virus, they should not, in the words of the police, take a “short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period”. So, to be clear, their rest should be shorter than their walk which should be longer than their drive.
If they do leave the safety of their home for a quick visit to a supermarket, they should make sure that it is because they are starving. The police will be carrying out spot checks for “non-essential” items lurking in their shopping basket. Fortunately, England being England, they can still buy essentials like alcohol, and the police have been asked not to take action if they are caught making purchases of non-essentials such as newspapers, pet food, bread or milk. And, most important in these stressful times, they are allowed to move to a friend’s house for a few days ‘cooling-off’ after an argument at home. I am sure that this will prove a popular activity although, depending on the “friend”, one man’s ‘cooling off’ may turn out to be another’s ‘heating up’.
The police in England have been taking their duties seriously and have already issued more than 3,000 fines for breaches of the lockdown – as defined by the police themselves. In the absence of any regulations, police officers are required to use their discretion and judgement in deciding what is and what is not allowed.
Readers will be relieved to know that reading my Blogs is most definitely on the allowed list.
And, following a long tradition, as we see in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe – “The House of Peers, throughout the war, did nothing in particular, and did it very well.” – today’s peers are demanding their tax-free £323 daily allowance to log in to virtual parliamentary proceedings from home and do nothing at all. Not a very good example when so many small businesses are going broke.
And the last, optimistic, word goes to Robert Browning – Oh, to be in England:
And, though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew