According to the Office for National Statistics, around one in 16 people across the UK had Covid in the week ending March 19. Anecdotally, that seems conservative, meaning it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands have signed a petition asking that the Government reconsider the end to free tests.
Evidently, the powers that be think enough is enough, though. They might reason that 92 per cent of the nation has had a Covid jab, and 4.5 million have had a booster since the start of the year. At some point, the argument goes, we need to get back on with it.
So we’re on our own now: the stabilisers are off, Dad’s let go of the saddle. But if you thought that we were a divided nation during lockdown, and especially in the nervous between times, just you wait. Depending on their situation and anxieties, everybody’s post-pandemic attitudes will be different. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, and then straight to the inferno of awkwardness. How will you handle it?
1. You’re not sure whether you have Covid – will you go to work?
Let’s start with a straightforward one: you wake up thinking you might have Covid. All the symptoms are there, but you don’t feel that terrible, haven’t got any tests, and aren’t 100 per cent sure it isn’t just a bad cold. Are you going to work? Your colleague did the other week…
- A. Unless I’m Volodymyr Zelensky, no. Covid changed our attitude to being ill at work – it just isn’t fair on others. I’ll take the week off just in case, and work remotely if I feel well enough. Fingers crossed my boss agrees.
- B. I will put on a face covering, go to the chemist, buy a test, and take it to make sure. If it’s positive I’ll stay at home, regardless of whether my boss thinks I should go in, until I test negative. If I don’t have Covid, I’ll go to work and loudly inform anybody looking scared by my coughing that they have no need to worry, because it’s definitely one of the millions of other illnesses.
- C. Oh it’s just a sniffle, I’ve got a job to do. Besides, my boss doesn’t believe in it, and everybody’s going to get it at some stage, so I don’t really have a choice.
2. The pizza dilemma
You’re going out for a midweek padana at PizzaExpress with a friend whose partner has just tested positive. Your friend is testing negative at the moment, but you’re seeing your vulnerable aunt two days later. Be honest: are you still having that padana?
- A. I’d ask my friend to test a couple of hours before the reservation. If it’s still negative, I’d stay socially distanced and maybe eat outside. No hugging.
- B. I’m afraid we’re cancelling. The friend will probably get it even if they aren’t positive now. And anyway, the minimum standard of restaurant I’d risk giving myself and a loved one a severe respiratory disease for is Zizzi.
- C. Padana, all day long. Maybe some dough balls and garlic dip to share. If ‘Living with Covid’ precludes midweek pizzas with friends, well what’s the point in living? I’ll test before seeing the aunt if I have to.
3. Friends with tests
You’re hosting a birthday party on Saturday, but on the following Tuesday you have a major job interview, so you would quite like it if everybody did a test before. What do you do?
- A. I would hope that my friends value my career progression at more than £2.50, the cost of a single lateral flow from Boots. It’s not hard.
- B. I’d supply finger food for the group, so I might as well buy them tests – it’s the 2022 way. That way they have no excuse.
- C. Spend the money I might have sent them for tests on some of those little cocktail umbrellas. If I’m that worried about the job, I’d move the party to after it.
4. Down to your last lateral flow
You and your wife are going to the same event, perhaps the birthday party of a friend who has an upcoming job interview, but have just one lateral flow test left. What to do…
- A. Is it OK to share them? It’s basically reusable until it’s positive, right? Or the person who feels least well should have it. We’ll work something out.
- B. Buy more, obviously. If I can afford a regular cappuccino, I can afford a few lateral flows each week.
- C. Save it for something that matters. There’s a cost of living crisis on – I’m not made of money.
5. Uh-oh – you’re positive, and a long way from home
You’ve tested positive, but you’re in an expensive overseas hotel. The hotel is not about to let you stay for free until you’re negative, and nor can you afford to pay your way. Your flight is tomorrow. What’s your decision?
- A. Suck it up, I suppose, and carefully move to a cheaper hotel if I have to. I don’t know who’s on the flight home, but if I have to take it, I’ll double mask, ask to sit away from others, or hide in the toilet if I have to.
- B. I’m not going anywhere until I’m negative. If I miss work, they can pay for the hotel while I work from there. I’d rather sleep under a tarpaulin on a beach than get on a plane knowing I’m Covid positive.
- C. Get on the plane, obviously. I need to be back in the UK, and if people are uncomfortable with me being there and looking visibly Covid-y, they can move, not me. What would they rather I do, crack open a window?
6. Cup Final conundrum
You’ve got tickets to the FA Cup Final at Wembley. One of your party has Covid, but is insisting on coming, since it’s outside and everyone in your group is at least triple-vaxxed. How do you feel about attending now?
- A. Fair enough. It’s outside – but can we at least put it to a vote rather than have him make the decision for us?
- B. I feel disgusted, and would strongly condemn him for doing that. Never mind me, what if my plagued friend caught a stray ball to the face, then threw it back, and in flight his saliva got in Raheem Sterling’s mouth? England’s World Cup plans could be in disarray and I simply will not do that to Gareth Southgate.
- C. Well, here’s hoping it’s not another Cheltenham 2020, but it won’t be, will it? It’s an open-air venue at which probably 95 per cent are vaccinated. I’m going, and so should he.
7. The really big call
It’s your wedding this weekend, but you’ve just tested positive. Bow out and you not only force 180 people to cancel, but lose thousands of pounds, madden your fiancé and have to rearrange the whole thing. Big call. What do you do?
- A. I’ll go, but masked. And I’ll put some paracetamol, a Lemsip, a lateral flow and an apology in with the wedding favours. They’ll get over it.
- B. Cancel and get married when this pandemic is declared officially over. In 2056.
- C. What is it that Will Smith said? “Love will make you do crazy things.” Yeah, well, I’m getting married this weekend, and none of the guests need to know my Covid status.
How did you score?
You are a Covid risk-taker, but occasionally reasonable. Trying to live with it is hard, isn’t it?
You may have your reasons, but it’s possible you need to lighten up just a touch, lest life not be worth living – with or without it.
Every man for himself. That’s one way of looking at it.
A completely chaotic mix of all three…
You’re most of us, just groping through, week by week, with the ethical consistency of a yoghurt.