England’s pubs have opened, and the rule is that you can sit at the tables but not hang around at the bar. A pub in St. Just, Cornwall, is taking that seriously. They installed an electric fence at the bar. According to one version of the tale, it’s mostly off but if you get in the bartender’s face and it goes on, and–zap– you will respect social distancing.
According to the other version, it’s never on but just having it there makes the point.
Take your pick.
After a false start, or two, England finally has a policy on face masks.
The false starts? While the prime minister hinted that we would probably, maybe, almost certainly, and quite possibly need to wear masks in shops, a government minister was saying categorically that we wouldn’t. Then they went into the back room to arm wrestle, came out friends, and agreed that we do need to.
But not right away. Starting on the 24th.
Why not right away? 1) We need to allow time for people to locate their mouths. 2) The government needs time to craft a message explaining that masks, properly worn, cover the entire human breathing apparatus, which includes both the mouth and the nose. C) We need to allow time for people to absorb that message and then locate their noses. 4) What’s your hurry anyway?
What will happen if someone doesn’t wear a mask in a shop?
Good question. Theoretically, they’re risking a £100 fine, only the police have said they’re not in the business of policing shops and should be called only as a last resort. Many shops and shop workers are, understandably, hesitant about enforcing it.
The country may have to rely on the power of tutting to enforce the rule.
Tutting? I’m going to refer to that more unreliable of experts, me, for an explanation. It’s point number 2.
With its usual laserlike precision, the government is trying to boost the economy by offering people half off when they eat out in August. From Mondays to Wednesdays. Excluding alcohol. Up to a value of £10. If the place you eat is eligible. But you yourself? You’re eligible time after time after time until the end of August.
The slogan is, “Eat out to help out.”
Not that I’m trying to draw a parallel or anything, but the number of kids showing up in hospitals with malnutrition has doubled this year, to 2,500, although the number’s probably higher, since not all hospitals responded to the request for information. Food bank use has surged, and government figures show that as many as 7.7 million adults cut their portion sizes or missed meals because they couldn’t afford food.
So half off for people who can afford the other half? Yup, we’ve got our priorities right.
Speaking of laserlike targeting of economic stimulus, let’s indulge in a semi-good news story. Primark–a clothing chain–announced that it wouldn’t take up a government offer of £1,000 for every employee that they brought back from furlough. The company doesn’t need it.
That’s £30 million it’s passing up.
Most Augusts, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival turns everything larger than a trash can into a theater, packs as many people in as is physically possible, and fire regulations be damned. Edinburgh fills up with as many people as it can hold plus many thousand more. The shows range from the professional, unexpected, and inspired to the amateur and embarrassing.
This year, with the pandemic still on the prowl, it’s not going to happen, so the festival’s gone virtual. You can sit on your couch and watch a selected number of shows. You can fund the artists. I’m not sure what else you can do, if anything, because I’m too busy telling you about it to actually learn anything. But it looks like it’s worth some exploration.