LIFESTYLE COMMENT

All dressed up and a positive lateral flow: Welcome to Covid Roulette

The stress of wondering if we will make it to Christmas without having to isolate is really putting things in perspective, writes Harriet Hall

Thursday 16 December 2021 15:12
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Cut back on socialising to save Christmas. Wait a minute, I think I’ve heard this one before – ah yes, it’s the one where the government watches on from wine and cheese parties, crudite in one hand, Coronavirus Act in the other, while we little people weigh up every interaction, deciding whether seeing friends now would outweigh not seeing our mums on the 25th if we catch Covid.

What will it be this week? Your cousin’s wedding or finally going on a third date with that bloke from Hinge, the one with the five o’clock shadow who works in tech and lives in Hampstead with his rescue Beagle, Dickens? Thankfully, your cousin has now tested positive, and her wedding is cancelled, so pretending to understand the metaverse over a mulled wine, it is.

Even the Queen is at it. Her Maj has made the call to cancel her pre-Christmas lunch (the one with all the royal clingers-on in Buckingham Palace, not the big boy at Sandringham), in order to protect the actual day. You’ve got to respect it. Without tiers and restrictions, it’s down to us to make these brutal decisions, playing Covid roulette and weighing up every diarised plan on a scale of was-going-to-cancel-anyway to totally-worth-a-ping. How we absolutely love to see it.

I’m rather enjoying discovering what people prioritise most. Among my WhatsApp groups, hair appointments appear to be non-negotiable while birthday celebrations, work meetings and dental health are falling by the wayside. (I rather hope those last people aren’t hoping to be on the pull over the festive break). One friend cancelled all her plans so she could get her roots done guilt-free but – oh wait – her hairdresser also has Covid. Next day delivery on a pack of Clairol it is then.

With the UK hitting a record 78,610 cases and the R number estimated to be between 3 and 5 for Omicron, the stress of wondering if we will make it to Christmas Day to see our families the year after the last one was cancelled has become so much that, earlier this week, one triple-jabbed healthy friend considered leaping on top of her Covid-positive boyfriend just to “get it over and done with in time for Christmas”. Which is one way to go about it.

On the plus side, while last year we were a highly anxious and un-vaxxed nation, this year people are “jabbing until 2am”, as the prime minister so delightfully put it. With Omicron reportedly milder than previous variants, instead of being all dressed up with nowhere to go, this year we’re all dressed up with a positive lateral flow – so at least we know where we’re at.

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