Confusion now hath made his masterpiece

When is a hug not a hug? When no-one sees you do it?

That must be the reason why last night’s England V Czech Republic game was sans Chilwell or Mount because they hugged their Chelsea teammate Billy Gilmour. ‘Typhoid Billy’ has tested positive for Covid and is self-isolating for 10 days, you see and therefore anyone that  has had close contact with him has to isolate likewise. Which includes Mount and Chilwell because they got all touchy-feely with Gilmour in the exciting aftermath of the England v Scotland game last Friday.

The Scottish team, for whom Gilmour plays, could play their game against Croatia, without anyone apart from Gilmour isolating, because they hadn’t been in close contact with him. No, apparently not even in the dressing room or the training ground. Talk about Billy-no-mates.

My friend pointed out that she wasn’t allowed to watch her daughter’s last-ever primary school sports day, but said daughter could come home from school and give her a hug after playing with her friends all day. Another friend’s son had to attend his potential new school’s sixth form orientation day via Zoom from his bedroom, the same day that his father went to Royal Ascot. Man, it’s confusing.

Once again, the papers don’t help things. On the on hand, the business pages are full of reports about huge corporations like Morgan Stanley insisting on ‘no-jab, no office-based job’ and KPMG suggesting that the new way of working will be for a hybrid of home-based and office-based work. On the other hand, there are reports that offices in certain sectors remain empty because workers are either scared to return, don’t want to mix with the unvaccinated or have got used to still being in their PJs at noon. And there are still companies who are hiding behind the Covid excuse as a reason for crap service and, once the scheme ends, for streamlining their staffing levels no doubt.

One thing that annoys me about all this is that there seems to be a tendency for the mainstream media and, indeed, the government, to talk about ‘getting the country back to work’. Yes, Prime Minister, you are guilty of this. ‘Back to work’ implies that we’ve all been sitting on our behinds watching Netflix and eating Ben & Jerry’s on the sofa for 18months. In reality, those that weren’t put on furlough have spent the last year and half picking up the slack for those who were. Quite frankly, we’re knackered and it’s not going to improve that quickly with the furlough scheme set to continue for months, albeit tapering off.

More confusion still since the edict to work from home where you can hasn’t actually been rescinded. When ‘Freedom Day’ was postponed to July 19th, all those rules about working from home where possible, reducing use of pubic transport, wearing masks in public places and only shopping one person at a time stayed in place.

Yet 60,000 people will be able to attend the Euros final at Wembley, the Wimbledon Finals will be at almost capacity and if my friend wants to see her Paris-based son for his birthday, she has to spend a fortune on PCR tests and stay at home for 10 days when she gets back.

Still, little Matty Hancock seems to think that everything will all be fine and dandy come July 19th, with the data on infection rates and hospitalisation rates “looking good”. Mind you, he did also say that thing about care home testing last year…

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Too close for comfort?

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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