Great Britain

I'm not going anywhere near a pub today. It's still far too risky

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There’s a gun at my head and two options: Either watch the last 20 years of Razzie “Worst Picture” winners or go to a pub on the day they reopen (today).

My answer: Am I streaming them or watching the DVDs and if you insist on the latter, do I have to include the special features because listening to Ben Affleck trying to pretend Gigli is a worthwhile movie is going to be particularly hard going? You say I do have to put up with all that? Fine. I’m still taking the terrible movies.

As any public health expert will be only too happy to tell you, the coronavirus hasn’t just disappeared in a puff of microbial smoke. It’s still with us.

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That being an uncomfortable fact of life, it’s hard to imagine a worse place to visit than a licensed premises, even if you’re considered low risk through being young and healthy.

We’ve already witnessed the dangers of putting together sunshine, beaches and confused messaging – the latter delivered by the dismal parade of hucksters, low rent estate agents, used car salesmen and spam PR merchants that we somehow managed to elect as our government.

Tick, tick, tick boom. It’s chaos on the sands and not our fault matey, call the local council we spent 10 years starving of funds because we don’t do taking responsibility in Westminster.

Now, put people who’ve been locked down for weeks on end into a limited space with an unlimited supply of alcohol in easy reach. This could, in some places, very easily get messier than a roomful of toddlers armed with powder paint and brushes.

Social distancing? It’s now more honoured in shops, parks and the other places you can currently go.

In a pub? It doesn’t matter whether it’s two metres, six feet in places where they haven’t worked out the metric system, or the nebulous one metre plus that BoZo the 10 Downing Street clown has ushered in. It’s. Just. Not. Happening.

Beer gardens? Being outside is better than being inside but it’s a world away from donning a surgical mask and the rest of the personal protective equipment that some medical staff are still, even now, struggling to get their hands on. You can still get infected. Ask some of the people who went to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

I have no doubt that there are responsible publicans up and down the country who’ll do everything they can to make it work safely and carefully, because if we don’t people are going to start dying again in large numbers.

But not all publicans are so responsible. And even the ones that are may struggle because it’s a pub, for goodness sake, and it only takes a couple of pints to make people feel invincible.

You can be a responsible person determined to stick to the rules, but when you’ve downed a couple? Oh, hell, what’s the worst that can happen if I hug my pal I haven’t seen for three months who is, unbeknown to me, an asymptomatic sprayer of virus particles?

Even if you don’t do that, do you think you can evade Billy Big Mouth who’s staggering from side to side as he heads your way, singing Stuck With U by Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, spraying droplets along with terrible lyrics?

The biggest laugh I got was when they were talking about one-way systems. Seriously? They aren’t even observed in Tesco.

Look, I’m not anti-pub. Au contraire. Even though our local Harvester is a bit crap the kids inexplicably like the carvery there and it’d be nice to be able to take them out somewhere local. A trip with friends to a really good boozer can feel like a soothing balm. I also know people working in the trade whom I worry about.

But I worry far more about a virus that has so far killed more than 40,000 people on these islands in a matter of months.

Every pub that reopens is a potential miniature super spreader event waiting to happen.

We do not want to end up like the US, which is recording record numbers of new cases, and we don’t want to see hospitals overwhelmed, like they are in the new hotspots across the Atlantic.

Trump’s America is a textbook case of what happens when you move too fast.

If that’s repeated here, BoZo’s reopening will prove utterly self-defeating. It will kick the economy and especially the pub trade once again, and put all those carers everyone was clapping smack back into viral hot zones.

So no, I’m not going anywhere near licensed premises. That would hold true even if the alternative was to be spending an afternoon in the company of Bennifer (J-Lo is also in the monster known as Gigli) and some other seriously awful movies. Nor should you if you care about the country in which you live, or, let’s be honest, just your friends, your family and your neighbours.

Now who’s got the remote.

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