THE latest big debate in Covid biosecurity (Covid BS) is whether we should continue to wear face masks when the mandate is lifted. Boris Johnson has now said that there would be an expectation for people to wear them even when it ceases to be law. A few days previously on breakfast television Dr Sarah Jarvis boldly suggested that sensible people will carry on wearing face masks. But the face covering debate is far more complex than that. Rather than looking at it as a polarised argument between sensible and non-sensible people, perhaps we should see it for what it really is: A beautiful game of consumers, manufacturers, distributors and sponsors all competing against each other for brand legitimacy. Think of it as the Covid BS Cup. Let’s have a look at some of the top teams in the competition, their team kit and their different styles of playing the game.
Covid Devotees United is one of the most popular teams of the tournament and team members all have a face covering of the very finest quality. Covid Devotees go to great length to find the right mask and will do a lot of research and shopping around to find one that tells the world how special their team is. Take the Airpop Active+ Halo Washable Reusable Face Mask. This multi-layered, smart mask with an air quality and breathing sensor is available on Amazon for £149.99. This is a Premier League face mask, without a doubt, and the wearer dons it with pride. If only you could see through it you would spot the knowing smile that says their team is headed for certain victory: if not the Covid BS Cup, quite probably the 2021 Virtue Signalling Trophy.
The pin-up boys of the Covid BS game are the jaunty young Metrosexual Rangers. They don’t care whether their mask works so long as it looks cool. If you fancy yourself as a Metrosexual Ranger, you might want to start with Hawes and Curtis, suppliers of a wide range of patterns from Burberry to more traditional paisley. These suave and sophisticated masks, made from 100 per cent silk, retail at just £15 each and you can even get ties and handkerchiefs to match. Please remember to take off your mask before you blow your nose on the handkerchief though. For the Metro men the Covid BS game is all about being trendy and they are the proud peacocks of the competition, all vying for the attention of the opposite sex. Could they win the cup? It’s unlikely as they very rarely score, but they are always entertaining to watch.
Of course the game of Covid BS is not just for men, and the female equivalents of the Metrosexual Rangers are the Sexy Sassy Rovers. We suspect they all have beautiful smiles even though we cannot see them but luckily for us we can see all those pretty floral designs on their masks. If you like the idea of being a Sassy Sexy Rover why not try a set of five assorted Tana Lawn cotton face coverings which you can purchase from Liberty’s online store for £45. Or if Kate Middleton is more your look, you could go for a cheeky blue and white polkadot number from Redbubble for around just under ten pounds. Although predominantly a female club, Sexy Sassy Rovers have a progressive ethos and welcome all new members regardless of their gender identity. They do suggest that if you have a beard you trim it to prevent any embarrassing ‘bikini line’ type overgrowth.
In stark contrast, members of the Aimless Wanderers are not attempting to look pretty and will usually be seen in something quite drab like a supermarket throwaway mask. If you would like to join the Aimless Wanderers you can purchase a ten-pack of disposable masks from Tesco for £10, which if used frugally could last you a lifetime. Aimless Wanderers live in hope that life will eventually go back to normal, but their team is rapidly slipping down the league table. They are losing faith in the game and they can’t even remember their team colours: ‘Is it blue on the outside and white on the inside or the other way round?’ The standard way for Aimless Wanderers to wear their masks is just below the nose but they do occasionally pull them up if there is an emergency Covid BS situation or if someone farts on the train. At times their mask will slip down below their chin but it will never come off completely, unless of course they get a transfer to Covidiot City.
Covidiot City are the only team who do not wear any face coverings at all. Some argue that they should be thrown out of the competition and that they are no more than uncontrollable thugs. They are certainly not team players and seem to have no love of the beautiful game of Covid BS. Covidiot City are notorious for bringing the game into disrepute with their cynical tactics, often disrupting the game with their pointless protests over official decisions. Unfortunately they are very resolute. They seem to have incredible staying power and they could win the game if it is decided on fixed penalties.
Covid BS is a funny old game and sometimes the underdog surprises everyone by coming out on top. So what happens if the mask mandate really does end on July 19 and Aimless Wanderers or Covidiot City win the trophy? All the other teams cannot simply hide their face coverings away and wait for the next big Covid BS tournament. Think about how you felt when England was finally knocked out of the UEFA Cup on penalties. Did you immediately run up to the bedroom and take down the England flag from the window? No, of course you didn’t, and it will probably be there for a good while as you defiantly show your support for your beloved team. Our St George’s flags will continue to fly in all their glory as they have done following all our disappointments over the last 55 years. This is no doubt how the Devotees feel about things, as they have already stated that they will continue to wear their face coverings whatever happens. But before you laugh at them remember this: Chris Whitty is their Harry Kane and Patrick Vallance is their Luke Shaw. So please respect the other side and be gracious in victory.
In truth, the game of Covid BS is much more ambiguous than football and it probably won’t be at all clear who the winners and losers are after Monday. Maybe it’s all just in the mind and if you think you’ve won the competition then you have. So what should we all do after July 19? My suggestion is that if you want to go maskless then feel free. However, if you want to proudly display your team colours for a little while afterwards then go ahead. The Covid BS game will continue for a long time but we should all celebrate the end of this particular tournament in our own unique way without shame or fear of ridicule. As for me, I’ll still be feeling a little bit nervous after Freedom Day, so I’m going to continue wearing my exemption lanyard for the time being.
This article first appeared in Lockdown Satire on July 15, 2021, and is republished by kind permission.