Booze battles: how the pub became the focus for pandemic Britain’s culture wars

Pubs are the most inclusive of all possible spaces. So how did they suddenly become more contentious than a vegan sausage roll?

It was inevitable that the lifting of lockdown would throw up contradictions that make no sense. From next Monday, children in England will spend their days in classrooms of 30, but adults won’t be able to meet in groups of more than six. Earlier in the season, childcare was reinstated before people were allowed to visit their families, throwing up the absurdity that you could have your mum round, but only if she was prepared to look after your two-year-old.

Nowhere, though, has been more divisive than the pub: how was it more important to reopen pubs than swimming pools? Why should drinkers take precedence over gym-goers? Lately, a really cruel anomaly has surfaced. Pregnant women are still not allowed to take a partner with them for scans and appointments, or even have someone with them for early labour, so you can go for a pint with your beloved, but you will be on your own when you first hear your baby’s heartbeat.

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