Tim Harford Columnist

In March an employee of a Melbourne bank was sacked after the bank concluded they had falsely claimed to be infected with coronavirus, triggering alarm for everyone working in the same building. The hands-off response of the local police chief? “It’s not against the law to be a dickhead.”

For weeks, much of the world has been locked down in an attempt to suppress the spread of the virus. The severity of the rules, and the relentlessness with which they have been enforced, has varied from place to place, but the broad theme has been the same: the rules are wide, restrictive and legally binding. Flout them and you will be punished. So it is “against the law to be a dickhead”.

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