Tim Harford Columnist

My local cheesemonger, having reinvented itself as a general produce store, has been open throughout lockdown. The proprietor tells me something strange and new has started to happen. Customers he hasn’t seen since March as they diligently shielded themselves from human contact have finally re-emerged, blinking in the daylight. What’s more, he says, they have no concept of physical distance. While the rest of us have been honing our skills for 15 weeks, these poor souls haven’t got a clue how to behave when in public.

But then, do any of us, really? We’re all still working it out. Some people wander around maskless, sneezing, snogging, shaking hands. Others are paranoid: “Keep two metres away from me! Get out into the road!”, I saw one masked gentleman scream as a perplexed woman jogged in his direction. It’s a reminder that there is more to this pandemic than what governments tell us to do. Each of us has our own feelings about what is safe. Those emotions have shaped the arc...

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