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Rations, anyone?


Stuck, as I am, in my office with my ice pack strapped to my shoulder, my thoughts have inevitably turned to life beyond lockdown in some new kind of 'normal'. It's got to be possible. After all, there's not much of the stuff around, despite all the death and disruption that it has caused over the last nine months. Apparently, all the COVID virus in the world, estimated to be about 8ml in total, would only half fill a tablespoon! That's less than the splash of milk I put in my tea this morning.


But what of getting through the next six months or so? We've got to limit people's time out and about in public places, especially indoors, but we've also got to allow them to get their Christmas shopping done, see their friends and families or they'll all go round the twist. Now, I am not old enough to remember this personally - I was fourteen years away from being born when the rationing of meat and bacon ended in July 1954 - but I just wondered whether there was a way of rationing the amount of time we put ourselves at risk of contracting COVID that still allows people to experience something of Christmas in the way they are used to.


What I had in mind was a booklet of vouchers a bit like those parking permits where you scratch the day off on which you intend to use the voucher so there's less chance of fraud. Then, if anyone asks you to justify being out of your house, you have to show them your work pass (this would make it legitimate for doctors, teachers, nurses, paramedics, shopworkers etc. to go to work) or one of your COVID vouchers if you were out for some other reason. Obviously, you'd still be able to go out for medical reasons or in an emergency, too.


A booklet of vouchers should last a month with everyone, including children, being entitled to a booklet. In it, you could have, say, four 'provisions' vouchers which would put you in the clear to go to the supermarket; two 'retail' vouchers, so you could go and do your Christmas and other non--essential shopping; a couple of 'hospitality' vouchers which would mean you could head to the pub or to a restaurant; some 'exercise/leisure' vouchers and, perhaps, some 'social' vouchers which would allow you to be in someone else's home on that particular day. The vouchers should be in two parts with a stub, which you keep, and a ticket which you hand over to the supermarket, retailer, pub owner who keeps hold of them as a record of who has been on their premises.


Of course, people will try to buy and sell vouchers from one another on the black market. I can envisage elderly housebound women being held to ransom for their 'exercise/leisure' vouchers by strapping young men who want to get down to the gym every day or people auctioning 'social' vouchers to the highest bidder if they're a bit of a recluse.


Please bombard me with all the other reasons why this won't work.


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