Safety muses, nanny killjoys: you’ve got to be kitting!

We are now officially in Week 2 of the 21-Day lockdown. It’s a week since you could last buy liquor – or cigarettes. But apart from that, the world hasn’t actually come to an end.

There’s food on the shelves of supermarkets (as promised) and most city centres and suburbs look like something out the Zombie Apocalypse, such has been the success of the lockdown (notwithstanding the much-publicised difficulties in certain townships).

So, what’s with the gloves and the face masks?

Apart from the incredible range; from survivor-style t-shirt buffs to Grey’s Anatomy cast offs all the way through to industrial respirators fit for handling noxious chemicals – and that’s just the masks – there’s also the gloves.

There’s the white latex first aid types, the blue crime scene specials and even dead ordinary bike gloves. Then there’s how they’re worn.

Politicians wear their face masks slung under their throats, or with their noses poking over the top, during press conferences; as do police at roadblocks and the “Let-me-speak-to-the-manager” Karens navigating their way down the supermarket aisles.

Gloves are the same problem. Most of them stay on the hands but scratch noses and every other orifice, in between touching every other soiled surface – and contaminating those that might not have been.

What happened to staying 2m apart and actually washing our hands for 20 seconds? As it is, there’s so much hand sanitiser in some of the smaller shopping centres that it’s probably a mercy that people can’t smoke in public, because you’d go up in flames if you stood within 15m of a smoker.

The biggest problem is that all these people mis-wearing the personal protective kit are (a) making a mockery of the people who are actually exposed to the rest of us popping in ostensibly for a basket of groceries and (b) keeping much needed kit out of the system and the people who need it the most – health care professionals.

There’s another thing to consider. What message are you sending, dressed up like that when the shop attendants (and the rest of us) aren’t? Are you the ones that are unclean that we need protecting from? Or is it us you need protecting from?

And on the subject of inane and arbitrary behaviour, which bright spark thought that banning the sale of legal cigarettes was a good thing?

Speaking as an ex pack-a-day-addict, to paraphrase the immortal words of Marvin Gaye: there wouldn’t have been no mountain high, valley low or river wide enough to stand between me and my habit if I ran out half way through a lockdown – especially without prior warning to buy enough cartons to last until the apocalypse.

Booze you can understand (if last week’s panic buying didn’t you give enough of a clue), because it lowers inhibitions, leads to people socialising and basically breaking the lockdown and possibly behaving anti-socially to boot.

But smoking? The Nanny Killjoys in the president’s cabinet just couldn’t contain themselves, could they? The EFF’s backers must be absolutely overjoyed; in one fell swoop illegal cigarettes just went through the roof.

You can’t actually buy marketing like that.

Originally published on the 4 April 2020 in the Saturday Star