Tomorrow, we find out what tiers we will be in when we come out of lockdown on Dec 2, even though a lot of us live in areas where you are more likely to die tripping over a tortoise than from Covid.
Further restrictions will be hugely damaging, but those obsessive scientists won’t release us until they are convinced the virus is eradicated. I make that never.
You could be forgiven for thinking the main qualification for sitting on SAGE is no previous experience of being human. Yet a fearful government has subcontracted our daily existence to this odd breed of men and women who clearly view us as lab rats.
Now comes the frankly terrifying news that SAGE is modelling the risks of Christmas lunch. I hand you over to Keith Fungus, professor of health psychology at the University of Dungeness, who will answer your questions about the unsuspected dangers posed by the festive feast:
Q: Professor Fungus, can we have crackers this Christmas?
A: The traditional pulling of a cracker is problematic because it involves two people, one at each end. SAGE’s projection is that crackers have a moderate to high impact on transmission, especially if people become tipsy and pick up another family member’s paper crown by mistake. I would recommend crackers of at least two metres in length and minimal shrieking when the cracker goes bang.
Q: What’s wrong with shrieking?
A: Shrieking releases aerosols which can hang in the air for several hours. Mask-wearing is advised in the vicinity of the cracker. Do NOT blow any comb or whistle found in the cracker!
Q: So can we still read out the cracker mottos?
A: SAGE has observed that bad jokes found in crackers may lead to sustained mirth. Modelling of this suggests that “having a laugh” may lead to adverse health outcomes. This has to be balanced against the impact on well-being. Impacts may be partially mitigated if the cracker motto is read out in a whisper and any laughter is directed away from the table.
Q: Are there precautions we should take during the meal?
A: There must be no sharing of utensils or crockery. Everyone should have their own individual gravy boat and bread sauce dispenser. Festive hand sanitiser could help prevent the seeding of an outbreak. Blowing out the flame on the Christmas pudding is high risk.
Q: Any advice on mistletoe?
A: Modelling suggests it leads to an undesirable link between members of two or more households.
Q: It’s called snogging, Professor Fungus.
A: Ah, I did wonder about the point of putting a plant on the ceiling. Removal of mistletoe could have a direct impact on reduction in transmission. But reductions in social interactions harm general well-being and have a psychological impact. Suggested intervention: retain mistletoe ritual but only while wearing visors and full PPE.
Q: There will be eleven of us for lunch. Should we try to maintain social distancing?
A: Keep two metres away from other members of your family as much as possible.
Q: But there’s no room. Our kitchen’s only 5 metres by 4.
A: Can you arrange for one room in your home for each family member?
Q: Where do you think we live, Buckingham Palace?
You can read Allison Pearson’s column every Tuesday at telegraph.co.uk. Click here to read last week’s column