Sarah Buitendach Editor: Wanted and FM lifestyle
A demonstrator from the hospitality industry bangs a saucepan as she protests outside the Houses of Parliament as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in London, Britain. Picture: REUTERS/Simon Dawson
A demonstrator from the hospitality industry bangs a saucepan as she protests outside the Houses of Parliament as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in London, Britain. Picture: REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The poor old Welsh have been put into a circuit-breaker.

For the next two weeks, from Swansea to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, everyone is in a mini-lockdown. With the exception of essential workers, the people of Wales have been mandated to spend the next 14 days at home listening to Tom Jones records and rewatching episodes of The Darling Buds of May.

The British government is doing this sort of regional lockdown to act as a Covid firebreak (though, to be truthful, the Welsh aren’t obliged to listen to Tom Jones – that’s just my outrageous bit of cultural stereotyping).

The aim is to stifle the spread of a second wave, and buy health services a bit of breathing space in particular areas.

If you haven’t been keeping tabs on round two of coronavirus infections in the UK, it’s not looking pretty. On Tuesday The Guardian reported 18,804 new cases across Britain. As the weather takes a dive in that neck of the woods, things are looking bleaker than usual.

It’s a far cry from a few months ago, as anyone who is on Instagram will know.

As we South Africans hit our worst moments of lockdown in the middle of winter – perpetually in sweatpants and existing semi-permanently on Zoom – Instagram was buzzing with our British friends and ‘gram celebs making more than hay while the sun shone.

And I do mean more. This week, consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser, which owns Durex, reported that it had had a 12.6% jump in the sale of condoms and sexual health items during the British summer months.

“Relaxation of social distancing regulations resulted in improved demand for our sexual wellbeing products,” Durex said.

By comparison, and as the BBC reported: “During the spring lockdown Reckitt saw a sharp drop in demand for condoms as people had less sex.”

To clarify, we didn’t see all this sex on Instagram. (Though perhaps that’s something that The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin might consider pioneering, now that he’s had a taste for it.)

But we did see all the other fun: Brits on holiday in Europe, roasting on Italian beaches, eating sugary kourabiedes in Greek cafés, selfie-ing the daylights out of Parisian mini-breaks. Even on the soggy isle itself, many Brits were socialising like it was 2019, nary a mask in sight.

Well, Covid 2.0 has certainly jolted them back to a depressing second wave reality. I don’t want to be the know-it-all in the room, but as I scrolled through my Instagram feed over the past few months, I have to say I saw this coming.

Equally, I don’t want to be a killjoy in SA either – but we ought to be watching what’s happening over the pond closely.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating that we dive back into our lockdown burrows, don our sweats in the blazing heat and panic before we need to. We have to live, after all.

But we can’t afford to forget that the virus is still very much among us. This week’s news of an outbreak amongst partying University of Fort Hare students and Cape Town’s Tin Roof matric debacle should act as a cautionary tale of what we don’t want to happen.

Anyway, we know the drill to mitigate the risk: wear a mask, sit outside at restaurants, wash your hands, and if you’re going to be having a lot of sex, do it outdoors and not with too many people at once.

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

This is a roundup of the best Covid-19 news from the web, brought to you in today’s FM lockdown newsletter.

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