Covid Theatre

I went for a meal this week in a high-class establishment. Here in Scotland, masks must be worn in all enclosed public spaces, including eateries except when seated at table. It all feels very old fashioned, a little unnecessary. When the food was ordered, a little tray for condiments appeared, bearing salt, pepper, cutlery and what’s this? A bottle of S145 Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer, so we might disinfect our hands at any point during the meal. We didn’t. In the local Tesco, a diligent shopper was carefully wiping down his shopping basket ahead of filling it with groceries. I wondered how he knew the bottle of spray with which he was cleaning the basket was not itself bearing the dreaded lurgy. I never said anything, just walked passed him to obtain the night’s fresh veg. 

I attended a small gathering of church leaders recently to help plan some event. We at Salem Chapel are effectively operating as we did pre-Covid; but for the odd absence and the hand sanitizer by the doors, one might not see a difference in our practice. Other churches, I discovered, are more cautious, insisting masks still be worn, songs murmured, numbers limited. These churches are not answerable to me, but to the Lord, and their leaders will be held accountable for their actions as we at Salem shall be for ours. Furthermore, an urban church surrounded by fearful or antagonistic neighbours may have to tread more carefully than a small, rural church with few living nearby. Yet how much of the ‘Covid measures’ are pure theatre? There were pictures taken last month of our PM and the US President sitting well part and masked, but minutes later the masks are off and both are seen to embrace. The mask-wearing was therefore charade, an act, an empty gesture.

How many of our measures genuinely prevented the transmission of the virus and how many were just following a script? There was certainly an element of keeping the law and being seen to keep it, even when we might be personally cynical of the requirements and the government’s intentions. When restaurants insist one must wear a mask to walk to a table but may remove it once seated, is this helpful, or just theatre? We should obey the law, we should keep people safe. But any measures we enact which are clearly just for show or to make us look good are a travesty and unworthy of the church of God, as well as national leaders whose rules we follow. 

Image by NickyPe from Pixabay