As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the phrase “the world has gone mad” has never been more appropriate. Among the madness, tragedy and restrictions on our everyday lives, some rules stand out for their absurdity. Implemented with the best intentions for sure, we look at some the strangest coronavirus rules from around the world over the last year.
: No ‘uplifting’ music
Restaurants are set to open in Cyprus from 16th March 2021 in a much needed ‘kick-start’ or should be we say ‘re-start’ of the economy. The country is keen to re-ignite its tourism industry and has already caused waves by openly inviting vaccinated tourists to the country for summer 2021, officially opening its borders from May 1st 2021 to Brits who have been vaccinated, despite the UK government insisting that foreign travel and holidays remain illegal until at least 17th May. The latest gaff from the Cypriot government comes in the shape of banning ‘uplifting’ music when its restaurant re-open. The justification being that music considered to be ‘encouraging’ patrons to get up and dance and break social distancing guidelines should be banned. So even if you can dine out in Cyprus from today, don't expect to have an 'uplifting' time, it seems you are still meant to be miserable.
: Smoking banned on the streets
Spearheaded by the Canary Islands and followed by numerous regions in mainland Spain, smoking in public spaces was outlawed. Whilst there appears no evidence that smokers are more susceptible to COVID-19, nor likely to spread it more, the justification came from the deemed increased risk to spreading infected vapour droplets whilst exhaling the smoke from cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
: Aircraft pillows banned
Official figures put Brazil as the second worst performing country in terms of overall reported cases with over 11m confirmed coronavirus cases confirmed as of 15 March 2021. Its president, Jair Bolsonaro has come under heavy criticism from within Brazil and the international community for his apparent cavalier attitude towards the virus where blame for the countries alarming statistics sit firmly at his door. And the countries ban on pillows on international flights isn’t likely to relieve any of that pressure. Whilst many countries imposed travel bans and quarantines, Brazil saw fit to simply ban pillows on flights as deemed the risk of infection too great from fluffy airline pillows, never mind the 200+ fellow passengers in close proximity for the duration of the flight!
: Old persons curfew
It’s no secret that the risk of hospitalisation and death caused by COVID-19 increases with age, however governments the world over have battled with their moral compass’ to try and find a solution as not to penalise its ageing communities. Whilst many have suggested vulnerable individuals to shield and take extra precautions, this has rarely been used in a such a blunt instrument as done so in the Ukraine. Simply put, the over 65’s have to live by a different set of restrictions including at times stricter curfew measures than their more youthful fellow residents.
: Sandals and open-toe shoe ban
Shops in South Africa were ordered to remove open-toe shoes from sale and were only permitted to sell footwear with closed toes. Those in the market for a new pair of flip-flops or any other open toe shoe would have to make do with what they can find in the bottom of the wardrobe as South Africa’s government considered the risk of spreading coronavirus via your big toe was a risk too far. Short sleeve t-shirts and tops were also only permitted to be marketed as under-garments for jackets and other long-sleeve outerwear. It would seem the concern was around exposed skin
: Toys, candles and clothes banned in supermarkets
Whilst non-essential shops have been forced to close, the lines have become rather blurred between essential and non-essential as whilst major supermarkets are open to sell essential items such as food and supplies, many now also sell clothing, toys, electronics, however the Welsh government has imposed restrictions on supermarkets only allowing them to open if they restrict sales to only items deemed essential, resulting in large stores taping / cordoning off areas of the store. Not all shoppers comply and there are stories abound of disputes arising as customers attempt to buy restricted items.
: Try kinky sex
Despite having the highest number of recorded cases and deaths of any nation in the world, the USA has tried to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach during the pandemic. New York however has seen some of the worst statistics at times during the pandemic, often attributed to its population density forcing the city’s Health Department to encourage its residents to be a little more creative between the sheets – or not as they recommend. Face to face contact during sex should be avoided and whilst face masks not mandatory, “make it a little kinky” is a phrase that has caught the headlines.
: Glory holes
If you thought New York’s sex position (no pun intended) was bizarre, Canada have taken the idea and added a little extra spice – even you thought that wasn’t possible before the watershed. So impressed by New York’s guidance, Canadians have been encouraged to “use barriers, like walls (eg. glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.
I can’t imagine you’ll find a stranger coronavirus rule than Canada, so we’ll just leave it there.