Welcome to Grousehog Day: it’s how Covid time works under the Tory government | Joel Golby

Grouse-shooting parties are exempt from the new ban on gatherings – but that doesn’t stop this feeling eerily like March

I had a fairly unsettling feeling of deja vu this week when the Conservative government started slowly easing the country back into the not too distant past as Covid-19 case numbers started rising again, reliving, beat for beat, the sloppy carnage of the month of March (remember that?) out here in good old conkers-and-hot-choc September. I suppose this is the long-term plan for coronavirus management, until a vaccine happens: run every six months on a loop, dip the whole country into an uneasy quasi-lockdown and then slowly bring it out of it again, forbidding anyone from leaving the house one week, and then, as close as possible, legally demanding they go to the pub again the next. The tide follows the moon. I wonder where Dominic Cummings will drive to this time? I wonder which day we’ll designate for the NHS clap? Which previously unknown 100-year-old will get an inexplicable No 1 single out of it? I’m excited to stay in my house, tending a sourdough starter for 12 weeks and finding out.

For those of us who are still confused about whether or not it’s all right to go outside: it is, but Priti Patel will narc on you if you do. The new “rule of six” – which came into effect after one last blowout weekend – because coronavirus famously respects birthday picnics that have already been organised via WhatsApp – is just that: you can’t socialise with more than five people at once. Unless you all go to the same pub in separate groups of six, because that is fine. Or if you go to school. Or an office. But other than that, keep it to six. Unless it’s a grouse shoot, then you’re good for 30.

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