Boris Johnson’s rule of six makes no sense for children who spend all day in school together - GulfToday

Boris Johnsons rule of six makes no sense for children who spend all day in school together


Boris Johnson. File

Kate Townshend, The Independent

There is only so much contradictory information you can ask someone to absorb before they start to wonder if they are in a Joseph Heller novel. And, as both a part-time teacher and doting aunty to my sister’s four young children, I’m definitely at the point where screaming “it doesn’t make sense” at my TV screen over coronavirus advice has become a nightly ritual so predictable the dog has started taking himself up to bed early to avoid it.

Because you see on the one hand, the government want teachers like me back in the classroom. School matters, they say (no argument here so far) and anyway, it’s perfectly safe for me to hang out with 30 tiny beings, some of whom list ‘licking things’ and ‘snot creation’ amongst their hobbies, because children are highly unlikely to get Covid-19 badly and accordingly unlikely to spread it. So it’s fine for them to be the exception to the rule that says we should avoid big gatherings, even in contexts where PPE is far rarer than PE.

But then we have the rule of six — the new rule for England limiting social meetups to six people by law — whether the participants are 8 or 80, and thus cutting me off once more from my nieces and nephews except for blurry, shouty Zoom calls where all four of them at once try to show me their grazed knee/special pebble/brand new tiara. In this scenario, baby Alba, my youngest niece who is yet to celebrate her first birthday, counts as a full sixth of the socialising total – so hang on, maybe children are disease vectors after all? The plot thickens of course when we compare England to Scotland and Wales – both of whom have taken the view that children under the age of twelve shouldn’t count towards the total six.

Maybe English children are just distinctively more Covidy than their Celtic cousins?! Or maybe, more radically, their devolved governments have taken the time to consider what actually makes sense, and is consistent, a bit more carefully.

I’m being facetious of course, but the truth is, these ridiculous contradictions make me want to give up on the advice completely — in favour of my own common sense judgements. (Hey, if breaking the law ‘in a limited and specific way’ is good enough for the Tory party, why shouldn’t it be good enough for me?)

For families like mine, the Scottish and Welsh approach versus the English one means the difference between Christmas all together and Christmas that is ‘cancelled’.  And I feel for my sister and her family … my oldest niece won’t be able to invite any of her little friends to her birthday party for instance, despite spending all day with them at school. In fact, my sister and her partner now face a scenario where their main option for seeing extended loved ones involves locking one or more of the children at a time in the shed. (Look, maybe actually, there are good reasons why England has got it right on this one, where Scotland and Wales haven’t. I m not interested in railing against changes just for the sake of it because, as sad as I am that it s necessary, I broadly agree with tighter restrictions to avoid the dreaded second wave.

But this new rule of six will separate families once more — and given the hardships involved, it matters more than ever that it makes actual sense. You know, rather than the Dominic Cummings Barnard Castle version of it… At least, if baby Alba does count as a whole adult person for these purposes, she should be allowed to vote too. I think she’d be unimpressed by the current government.

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