There’s a reason why they don’t ask me to write party manifestos, to dictate government policy or chalk up a tea rota. I’m still waiting for a reply from Sadiq about replacing the Northern Line with a giant zipline, my attempt to bring diving flippers into mainstream fashion failed when I tried to enter a revolving door and don’t get me started on the combustable bobble hats.
But then I watched this government lurch from one u-turn to another and suddenly, by comparison, my ideas don’t seem quite so foolish. I think it was the scotch eggs that clinched it. So, Matt Hancock, I’ve for another idea for you…
I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you don’t seem to have come up with a coherent strategy for vaccinating seventy million Brits yet. Boris keeps jabbering on about ‘sticking it in people’s arms’, which given that’s essentially the only way to administer the vaccine isn’t particularly illuminating. So perhaps I could suggest turning to the hospitality industry?
Whispers are that the government has a vague plan to use sports stadia and other large spaces to mass vaccinate us all. Now I’m no epidemiologist, I can barely spell it, but given the new, highly virulent, strain I’m not fully convinced that bringing thousands of people together at one time is a completely flawless approach. What might work better is a super local network of vaccine drop-in clinics, and ideally not GPs’ offices, given they need these for their regular GP-ing in.
Where might we find a sprawling network of empty buildings within walking distance of everyone’s house with refrigeration and multiple entrances and exits? Wait, isn’t that exactly what the nation’s restaurants, pubs, theatres and hotels are?
Not only are these spaces perfect for the job, they’re also familiar to everyone, they’re perfectly placed and you could even get a scotch egg on the way through.
Despite being one of the worst hit areas of the economy it’s an industry that has time and again proved that it’s keen to help and to give back (not least as seen in our own Lockdown Heroes, but also the multiple extensions of Eat Out To Help Out (wow, that feels like so long ago now)) and this really could make sense.
Not only are these spaces perfect for the job, they're also familiar to everyone, they're perfectly placed and you could even get a scotch egg on the way through...
And what’s more, the government could help support hospitality by paying them. Even with the extra support announced yesterday, £9,000 doesn’t go far where London rents are concerned. This could be a real and tangible way to help the industry out and let them be part of the solution.
The idea isn’t entirely new. Pub chain Brewdog have already offered up their venues, though we’re yet to hear if the government are interested.
Anyway, Mr Hancock, the idea’s there if you’re interested. Of course, judging by form to-date, you’re probably more keen to hear more about the combustable bobble hats…