Humans are terrible at risk assessment, aren’t they?
People who were not going out when new cases were at around 20-30 a day and were stable or falling, are now happily visiting pubs with cases at 250 a day and rising. Great British Common Sense in action.
Daily cases in Bristol as of 30 October 2020 via Public Health England.
At the time of writing, Bristol is in something the local authorities are calling ‘Tier 1+’ and is, we think, the biggest English city not to be facing higher-level restrictions.
We’re not really sure why – the rate of infection is actually higher than in some Tier 3 locations.
It’s possibly because hospital admissions remain low (although we know how that goes) or perhaps we just haven’t flashed up on the superforecasting spreadsheet yet.
Tier 1 isn’t completely unrestricted. It still requires pubs and restaurants to be closed by 10, seated table service and masks to be worn when not seated. As for who’s allowed to meet where… Well, this is part of the issue.
We seem to have moved completely away from principles – try to minimise your social contacts – and into a series of overlapping and confusing rules that give the impression that all is well and that you have permission to socialise.
This, plus limited support for pubs, along with a sense that it might all be taken away any day now, creates this weird moral pressure for consumers like us who love pubs and desperately want them to survive.
We’re not the only people we know who have upped our pub-going in the last month, despite the fact that it’s almost certainly more dangerous now in Bristol than it’s ever been.
Even in the comparative luxury of Tier 1, things certainly don’t feel normal.
We spent an hour in a pub in a student area on Saturday afternoon, sitting outside near the entrance, and saw some perhaps understandably bizarre behaviour.
“How many are you?” asks the bouncer.
“Er… two groups of four.”
(The limit is six.)
Then there was this:
“Please put a mask on if you’re standing up and moving about the pub.”
“I can’t. I’m only going for a fag. Uh, I’ve lost it.”
“Have a disposable one.”
“Ugh, fine, whatever.”
The mask is crammed into a pocket.
The staff were working so hard, and doing their utmost to stay cheerful, but it must be utterly soul destroying dealing with this lack of consideration, day in, day out, while knowing you’re still probably not making enough with reduced opening hours to pay the necessary army of greeters and serving staff.
Having said that, a few times lately, we’ve gone out with the intention of supporting our favourite pubs only to find them too busy to accommodate us.
It’s good news for them, maybe, but also worrying.
When you see a pub full to (reduced) capacity with condensation running down the windows you can’t help but think… What the hell are we doing?
This was inspired by Rowan Molyneux’s excellent piece about moving into Tier 2.