What was once a straight-forward Saturday outing to buy new socks for the junior editors has turned into a bizarre theme-park-esque queuing ordeal, being greeted at the storefront with an indiscriminately-aimed squirt of hand sanitiser which inevitably ends up spicing up a paper cut, and then an awkward do-si-do up and down aisles silently tutting anyone who disregards the floor arrows.
Fortunately York has a bit more zing about it now that lockdown is over (um, is it though?), but the UK still has an eye-wateringly high death rate compared with the rest of our European compadres. Over a quarter of all deaths in Europe have occurred in the UK despite the fact we’re only the 8th most densely populated country. So understandably we’re encouraged to continue physical distancing, plus wearing of masks where this isn’t possible, and frequent thorough handwashing. If the threat of COVID infection isn’t enough of an incentive, remember you could be stung with a £100 fine for proudly baring your naked cheeks and chin. It's a shame to see people making a fuss about this, I mean the Lone Ranger made a career out of wearing a mask! Currently the list of where you are and aren’t expected to wear a mask is a little bewildering, but rest assured you’ll always be asked to wear one when you visit your friendly GP or the hospital so please don’t be offended when we ask you over the phone (we'll of course make an exception for anyone who can’t wear a mask for a very good reason).
Remember to ensure your mask has no gaping edges, and that it covers your mouth and nose. Sounds daft, but droplets containing the virus tend to escape through gaps. It's like their MO. If you're donning a disposable mask remember to open the pleats, pinch the wire snugly around your nose, and you might need to twist the elastic to make it a closer fit. Fit your own mask before helping others, and remember your nearest exit may be behind you. Oops, my inner flight attendant crept out! Let's call that 'job plan B'. Er, once aeroplanes become fully solar-powered, of course. But disposable masks are not good for the environment, so luckily it’s very easy to get hold of fabric washable reusable alternatives, or dig out some fabric scraps and make your own mask, and let your kids pimp theirs with ribbon, buttons, sequins etc.
Too much? Well, let me refocus onto the exciting locations you can now visit with your new mask tucked expectantly in your pocket. Many RSPB locations and gardens are opening up in an adapted fashion. For those of us who’ve missed the treadmill, full-length mirrors and sweaty macho fug of gyms, you’ll be pleased to know many are open now. The equipment is either more spaced out, or else masks will be required. This is great news for getting those essential 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week (collect £200 and pass GO!), but remember to wipe down everything before and after use and keep those hands nice and fresh with sanitiser, soap and water. And don't touch your face. Or anyone else's. Ahem.
And finally, if you’ve migrated from ordering a takeaway and cracking open a beer at home, to visiting a pub or restaurant, remember the ventilation and therefore risk of transmission will be lower outside. Please don’t make a straw hole in your mask (yes, some people have actually done this). Of course you’ll have to take off your mask if you want to eat, drink, brush your teeth or have a quick smooch. But please don’t try any of these in my consultation room!
Right, must dash, people have been asking me to make more masks. They know me sew well...