OPINION

Welcome to Pandemica and have a nice day

Welcome to Pandemica and have a nice day

Welcome to Pandemica!

We're delighted you've come back.

But things have changed since you were last here so, before you settle in, how about I give you a quick overview so you don't make any awkward little faux pas?

First up - greetings.

I'm sure you're aware that officially, we're not supposed to shake hands, hug, kiss or even high-five.

But unofficially, it's a little more complicated.

Some people completely ignore the advice, throwing you into a quandary - to touch or not to touch?

Others make a half-hearted attempt at an elbow bump, then convert it into a hug when they see you have misunderstood.

Still others will stand two metres away and talk to you in their outside voices.

Just try to go with the flow, without offending anyone and without actually catching an infection. I'm sure you'll work it out.

Secondly, if you're a returning citizen, people will want to know where you've been and why you've only just come back.

It doesn't matter if you have a perfectly good excuse for flying in post-lockdown.

Whether it's because you've been overseas with a dying relative, are bringing home a baby adopted from another country, or you needed urgent specialist medical treatment not available here, expect some harsh criticism.

And if you were living and working out of the country and tried to come home, but got stuck there after cancelled flights and traveller caps cost you a fortune and forced you to sleep at the airport for weeks - well, I guess that's the price you pay for leaving Pandemica in the first place. Who do you think you are, anyway?

Oh, sorry, got a bit carried away. Where was I?

Right - masks.

You should definitely wear one.

Two layers, at least, and make sure you wear it properly otherwise it's a waste of time.

Did I say two layers? Make that three. One should be waterproof. Plus a filter if you can.

What - you can't find any left to buy? Well, you should have been on to it already - I can't think why you didn't see it coming.

Although, it's not the law yet. You still have a choice. And if you have a choice you can say yes or no. But you should say yes.

Although, it's not the law yet. You still have a choice. And if you have a choice you can say yes or no. But you should say yes.

Which brings me to social distancing.

The recommended distance you should keep between yourself and others is 1.5 metres.

Except, of course, if you really need to squeeze past someone at the supermarket. Or there is someone you know coming along the other side of the footpath and you want to stop and say hello, meaning other people have to walk close to you to get by.

Or you need to squeeze into a crowded train, order your coffee without queuing outside because it's cold, or you're at a party and it would be a bit weird.

But don't tell anyone I said that.

Lastly, I need to go over the food situation.

You can no longer use your own cup for takeaway at a cafe, in case it has the virus on it. But the cafe's cups that the waiter brings with his bare hands will be fine.

And the apples and avocados at the supermarket that everyone has prodded and squeezed - I'm sure they'll pose no danger.

Ditto the packaging that shoppers have coughed over and then you touch when you put it in your trolley.

You could wear gloves at the supermarket, but to be consistent, you'd also have to wear gloves every time you use the item at home. Or wipe each product down with antiseptic wipes.

Just relax, what are you - paranoid?

I don't want to overwhelm you, so that will do for now.

Once again, welcome to Pandemica and have a very nice day.