It’s been hailed as the end of “national hibernation”; as independence day; super Saturday; the Return of Good Things Day; the End of Bad Things Day. (Ok, I made the last two up.) On July 4, the biggest lifting of lockdown restrictions yet will come into force, and judging by a tweet from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it’s going to be absolutely epic. “I can’t wait to get back to the pub…” wrote Rishi Sunak. “And I don’t even drink.”
Well, quite. I can’t wait to ride on a silent rollercoaster, and I hate rollercoasters and so never ride them. I also can’t wait to visit a model village. I’m not sure I know what one is, but I’ve heard we can return to them now, so you can bet your last drop of hand sanitiser I’ll be going.
But of course, things won’t be entirely the same as before. As outlined by the Government this week, if we want all these freedoms returned to us, we must agree to a set of not-so-fun terms and conditions before we all jump back in. Social distancing will remain of paramount importance, and aspects of our lifestyles we’d never once questioned will remain off-limits for the foreseeable. Some we will miss: dancing in public; gathering in groups of seven or more outdoors. Others, we really won’t. Here’s what we can gladly get over...
1. Queuing for a drink at the bar
It’s annoying, and frankly we're surprised this has only just come up. Your friends are discussing Kate’s affair, and you’re there stuck at the bar, growing ever more impatient as the punter in front of you places a complex order for an entire hockey team. Well, goodbye to all that. Propping up the bar is against the new rules, and pubs will be table service only. How very civilised. Why has it taken a pandemic for us to sort this out?
2. Grimy condiment dispensers
Is anyone genuinely going to miss the damp clump of salt that clogs up the end of a communal salt shaker in a cafe? Or the greasy hand prints left on it by the person who used it before you? Seems doubtful, and since salt and pepper shakers must now be regularly disinfected to reduce Covid-19 transmission between customers, this will soon be a thing of the past.
3. Loud music in venues
Yes, we are showing our age here, but sometimes we couldn’t even hear ourselves think in a bar. And when we could, what we heard ourselves thinking was: “Why is this music so loud, and can it even be called music?” All we wanted was to have a good chat about Kate’s affair. But we couldn’t, because the bass was too thumpy, and our displeasure at this fact made us feel very old and tragic. Fortunately, the new guidance requires that venues refrain from “playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult”.
4. Dirty campsite showers
Not going to miss the clumps of someone else’s damp hair in the plughole; nope, not even a tiny bit. No nostalgia, either, for the magical experience of stepping on a stranger’s discarded sticking plaster. That communal showers can only be used once before having to be cleaned is a blessing not remotely in disguise.
5. Screaming at theme parks
Actual grown adults did it on rides all the time, but why? To show how much fun they were having? To stop others from having any fun? Thank goodness the Government’s guidance specifically prohibits people raising their voices and anything that might cause them to shout, since there’s an “additional risk of infection in environments where you or others are singing, chanting, shouting or conversing loudly”. We hope this new ban on shouting applies to small children too, up to and very much including our own. A vow of monastic silence would really help control the spread of the virus, we’re certain.
6. Awkward hugs, handshakes and kisses
Being British, we never really know which of these three is correct for the occasion, so avoiding them all seems sensible. We won’t miss those times when we misjudged things entirely and launched ourselves forward for a kiss on each cheek, not noticing a hand had been proffered for a germ-spreading shake. Waving at someone from a safe two metres away is just so much simpler a greeting.