The Handbook
The Handbook

The ‘great unlocking’ is continuing today as Britain baby-steps out of lockdown and toward something approaching ‘normal’. This morning we mark a milestone in that process as Londoners wake up to changes in our freedoms that we’ve not enjoyed since March. Here’s what you can, and can’t, now do…

Cool, so things are back to normal, right?

No way José! The government has been very keen to stress that these are small tinkerings with the lockdown formula, and not a wholesale lifting of regulations. For most people life this week will look largely like it did last week, simply with small modifications. The message remains stay at home, don’t be a dick. Oh and stay ‘alert’.

Fine, don’t stress. But I can see my friends again?

How many friends have you got? Because you can only see five at a time. The new rules allow groups of up to six individuals from different households to meet at at once. Which includes children, so if you’ve spent the last decade flaunting your fabulous fertility then the eight of you aren’t seeing Granny for a little time more.

Brill, dinner party at mine!

Noooo. The new rules insist that you remain two metres (six feet) from each other at all times, and that you’re outside.

A barbecue in the garden’s as close as you’re going to get to a dinner party.

You realise that not everyone has a garden, right?

While it’s difficult to imagine that anyone in the cabinet has ever not had the enjoyment of a garden (an apartment in The Albany does not count!), they have also applied this to parks and public spaces. If you don’t have your own private estate, you’ll have to head to the common with all the other gardenless disease vectors…

Wait, you have to go through my house to get to the garden!

You’re covered. Just maintain social distancing. Even Boris Johnson doesn’t expect you to zip wire in.

And can I go to the loo when I’m there?

What is wrong with people? Do you literally need permission from the government to use the bathroom? Use your common sense. Yes you can use the loo, just be aware there’s a deadly pandemic going on and so poo accordingly. If you dial 111 then you can request Chris Whitty wipes up after you. Don’t do that.

What sport can I play?

You can already play sports like tennis and golf (is golf a sport? More like a hobby), and now this has been extended from one other person from another household to up to five others. But you must maintain social distancing, which means that football is still off the agenda. Though I’m so bad at football that nobody ever passes to me, meaning I’ve been doing socially distanced football my whole life. Basically y’all need to take up bowls…

Are schools back?

They sort of are. Nurseries, reception (why’s it called that?) plus years one and six are allowed back from today. But other years will have to wait until at least Monday 15th June. Meanwhile, class sizes are restricted to no more than 15 pupils and breaks will be staggered and hand washing will be encouraged at OCD levels.

Cool. And can I go down the shops?

Some of them. Car showrooms and outdoor markets are back on, while DIY stores and garden centres are open already. To be honest, when have you ever seen a thronging car showroom? It’s not clear why they were ever shut given how empty they always are. Whatever. All other ‘non-essential’ shops can open from Monday 15th June, provided they are strictly socially distanced.

Wait, why is IKEA open?

Do they fall under DIY? Dunno. But meatballs are essential items, so let’s not question it.

Can I go into the office?

The government’s advice is that if you can work from home, then you still should. Workplaces that are open must employ social distancing, regular cleaning, staggered shifts and (some good news) no hot-desking. If you’re commuting, you’re asked to avoid public transport and if you must use trains, busses and so on then to wear face-coverings and keep your distance.

I live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

You muppet, why didn’t you say right at the start? Everything in this article is totally irrelevant to you as the devolved nations are all doing their own things. FFS.

The Handbook has teamed up with The Grill at The Dorchester for an exclusive competition. Entrants will have the chance to win a dinner for two at The Grill at The Dorchester when it re-opens!