The ‘new normal’? My stomach clenches when I hear the phrase. Like being asked whether you’d prefer the good or bad news first, I feel as if I’m being softened up for a kick in the guts.
Everyone with a sinister idea that’s tricky to argue is dusting it down to relaunch it on the back of coronavirus. Perhaps the most egregious example to date was the Scottish government’s attempt to axe jury trials. Thankfully this assault on democracy failed, but other pernicious reversals of the pre-Covid-19 status quo are being slipped quietly into our new world order. Watch out. Temporary measures have a nasty habit of becoming permanent.
Using stockpiling concerns as the reason, the UK government slackened restrictions on delivery hours to supermarkets, disturbing the uncanny quietness of lockdown and the trill of the dawn chorus with the rumble of heavy vehicles.
Ostensibly to help fish farms cope with staff shortages caused by the pandemic, salmon farmers, consistent with their cavalier approach to fish welfare and environmental risk, have persuaded the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to relax the rules governing the density of these caged fish.
Despite being declared an essential service, street markets and indoor city markets have closed. Those that have sorted out physical distancing measures have reopened. But coronavirus gives cash-strapped councils all the excuse they need to further neglect this localised food shopping model when they ought to step up support for it.
The plant food lobby will, of course, blame the origin of coronavirus on its usual suspect: meat. It will studiously ignore any plausible alternative origin theory, such as lab escape, purely to win its ideological debating point. This isn’t about eventually exposing the truth, or following the best scientific evidence, it’s about pursuing pre-existing agendas.
People can do terrible things when the collective amygdala, the brain’s fear centre, goes into overdrive because we feel threatened. If we allow it, febrile coronavirus terror will overrule the rational, reasoned parts of our brains. Then, as psychologists will tell you, we’ll agree to anything, even measures that are ultimately against our own interests. So much for ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’!