Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Eggs, coffee, pizza, and pints


The Scotch Egg saga demonstrates how easy it is to pick holes in the detail of the English government’s guidance on the pandemic. I admit that I’m still unsure whether ordering a Scotch Egg with a pint in England and then not eating the egg is a crime or not. And if it is, how much of the egg can be left uneaten whilst still avoiding the danger of prosecution? The story about Manchester’s “f*****g massive” pizza slices is another example. Expecting precise clarity in answer to every such question is utterly unrealistic, although that won’t stop opposition politicians from pretending that they do expect such clarity in order to score a point or two.

Closer to home, we had Plaid’s leader asking yesterday “How can four people from four different households having coffee together be safer than two people from the same household having a pint?”. It looks like a sensible question, but it seems to be predicated on an assumption that in drawing the lines between what is and what is not allowed, the government has carefully considered the safety implications of both (and numerous other) scenarios and come to a conclusion about relative safety. It has done no such thing, of course – nor could it be reasonably expected to do so. I don’t know which of the two is the safer, but I’m sure it’s not the right question to ask. What we do know is that ALL social contact carries a danger of spreading infection, and the important thing is to reduce the level of such contact. Whether the government is outlawing the right things is an entirely valid question to be asking, and one on which people will have different opinions. Perhaps it really would be better to allow the beer and ban the coffee, although that might merely upset a different group of people. But setting one scenario as a baseline and then allowing everything which is considered to be as safe as, or safer than, that is a recipe for greatly extended social contact, and that is what the government is trying to avoid. Having some apparently ridiculous outcomes is probably inevitable.

The concern about the future of the hospitality sector is legitimate, and it is a point which has been made by the Tories as well as Plaid. But seeking to protect that industry by allowing it to open more widely rather than by properly compensating the industry for being forced to limit its operations or even close completely carries a risk of increased transmission. It’s the wrong solution to a correctly identified problem. Identifying and mocking some of the curious outcomes of the current restrictions is easy enough to do. It’s probably even good politics, striking a chord with the public - especially the lockdown sceptical part of the public. It isn’t good infection control though.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Yet more examples of politicians and public looking to push boundaries rather than seek ways of arresting the contagion. On the one hand we have swaggering, frothy libertarians and on the other mealy mouthed concerned posturing. Both quite repulsive in their own ways. That's what you get when there's no limit to the amount of shite allowed to come out of a politician's mouth.