Covid restrictions: a look back at some of the stranger ones

Throughout the pandemic, there have been multiple waves of “new normal” which we have learned to live with.

We have lived with many restrictions but some were stranger than others. So as the UK begins to emerge from the latest, take a look back at some of the wierder Covid laws we put up with once upon a time.

Back in March 2020, when lockdown first began, we were only allowed to leave the house for essential reasons.

This seemed like a logical step, however the exercise rule was rather bizarre, only allowing for one form of outdoor workout per day.

If you wanted to go for a walk and a bike ride on the same day, you could forget about it.

To help enforce this rule, children’s play areas and outdoor gyms were wrapped up in police tape, meaning we could only dream of going down a slide or swinging on the monkey bars.

As the pandemic progressed, it became apparent that peoples’ definitions of “exercise” vary greatly.

Take the woman who was arrested for sitting on a park bench in Richmond in April 2020, which she tried to justify by saying she was “exercising her mind”, according to The Metro.

A similar case was reported by Sky News, when originally two women were fined £200 for driving five miles from their homes to go for a walk.

They were also told that taking coffee with them was prohibited because it counted as a “picnic”. The fines were later cancelled.

In May 2020, rules changed to allow for sitting outside, but were still oddly specific.

Meeting one friend in the park for lunch or a stroll was now permitted provided you kept two metres apart.

However the moment one of you stepped into a private garden instead of being in a public space, you were acting illegally.

If private garden meetings were forbidden, then surely indoor household mingling was not allowed either?

Technically not, unless you found a loophole. Whilst there was no way to lawfully have a family member or friend round for dinner, you could have quite easily let them into your home if you hired them as a cleaner or nanny.

Luckily, June 2020 saw the return of meeting in some indoor spaces but not for all activitites.

Of all things, singing was strictly off the cards, being deemed unsafe in public.

In fact, shouting and chanting were also banned, with the aim of stopping Covid spreading in the air from people raising their voices.

This made the opening of some nightclubs as seated spaces in summer 2020 was particularly odd, seeing as you could go to them on the condition that you did not sing or dance – the two things clubbing was designed for.

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Summer 2020 was also the era of ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, where the government implemented 50 per cent discounts for all restaurant meals and soft drinks in order to help businesses thrive again.

Whilst this seemed like a great idea for everyone wanting a cheap date, it inevitably backfired when Covid cases began to surge following this scheme.

Though it was a relief to get back to restaurants, takeaway food was undoubtedly the saviour that got us through lockdown.

Unfortunately, most companies operated with a reduced menu due to Covid, something which is still in place almost two years later.

For some reason, Covid is still preventing you from getting a garlic base on your Domino’s Pizza, or a breakfast wrap from McDonald’s.

By mid-2021, the UK found itself out of another lockdown, and keen to get some of its drinking culture back.

At first, crowds wrapped up warm and flooded back into pub gardens to get their beloved pints, ignoring the poor weather that stood in their way.

Then, indoor venues opened back up, although only until 10 PM, following new curfews.

Well done to anyone who did not say: “Haven’t you heard? Covid only comes out late at night” in response to that rule.

With everyone getting out and about, it begged the question of how the people who were not in relationships or not living with a partner should seek intimacy.

Those wanting casual flings were boldly told to avoid kissing, use face coverings, have good hand hygiene and practice social distancing as much as possible. Whether people actually stuck to this guidance is likely to be a different matter.

It has been a wild ride over the past two years, trying to do the right thing whilst also seeing your loved ones.

It has not always been easy, or logical, to abide by the rules, but the future looks hopeful as a result of our compliance and perseverance.

Enjoy the freedom ahead: we have all earned it!

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