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3 May, 2020 10:13

Banning hotel minibars, spraying bleach on beaches, dumping chicken manure on roads: Around the world in 80 madcap lockdown rules

Banning hotel minibars, spraying bleach on beaches, dumping chicken manure on roads: Around the world in 80 madcap lockdown rules

Future historians are going to look back in shock and horror at many of the radical lockdown rules being enforced now, or the off-the-wall ones being planned for when tourism finally takes flight again.

There’s a hilarious meme doing the rounds on WhatsApp of Doc Brown warning Marty McFly, “Whatever you do, don’t go to the year 2020!” I’m sure we all wish we had our own Back to the Future DeLorean time machine now – instead of having to patiently wait it out until the curve is flattened.

The only thing getting many people through the lockdown is daydreaming of being able to take a well-deserved holiday when this nightmare is all over. But vacations are going to feel very strange in our new reality until a cure is finally discovered.

It had crossed my mind to revisit Peloponnese, but after a long walk on their sandy beaches, you won’t be able to quench your thirst at the hotel mini-bar – with Greece bizarrely wanting to ban them as part of new social distancing rules. Yet it’s tame in comparison to Ireland’s fears about their pubs not being able to reopen in 2021, which I discussed here recently.

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And if that wasn’t enough to cause heart failure, you might first have to “pass tests” before your plane even touches down in Athens, with Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis telling BBC Radio 4, It is very likely that we will have some requirements before travelling.”

But, of course, it might be a much more comfortable – albeit much pricier – trip to Greece too, with the EU’s nonsensical idea to introduce in-flight social distancing with the middle seat left vacant, which I also wrote about here last week.


Those of us easily spooked who are thinking about more exotic locations might be better off steering clear of Indonesia, considering one senior politician there is now publicly boasting about having “haunted houses!” Fed up with people flaunting the lockdown rules, Sragen Regency region’s head Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati proclaimed, If there’s an empty and haunted house in the village, put people in there and lock them up.”

So far five culprits have been banged up in such spooky jails there, which might come back to haunt the Indonesian government itself, with libel actions and arguments about human rights being violated.

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If you think that sounds bad, you should check out this YouTube video of Delhi cops dressed up in zombie customs with Covid-19 monster helmets in an effort to put the fear of God into the public. They’re also not averse over there to using their batons to batter young men blatantly driving around for fun on their scooters.

I was left scratching my head when I read the Malaysian government informed women with supposedly “funny cartoons” that one good way to avoid the coronavirus was to “dress up, wear make-up and avoid their nagging husbands.” I’m surprised they didn’t also advise women to carry condoms with them too, because it sounded like the government was almost encouraging infidelity – which clearly defeats the purpose of social distancing.

Speaking of sex, it’s certainly no big shock to learn Durex sales are going down because the crisis is “having a toll on the number of intimate occasions.” Apart from less people enjoying casual hook-ups, it’s also reckoned couples are having “significantly” less sex as a result of increased levels of anxiety putting a strain on their love lives, according to one Durex executive interviewed this week.

But the condom manufacturer said it had no plans to scale back production during the pandemic because it expects demand to rise when the world returns to normal – duh! I wouldn’t be surprised if sales increased dramatically thanks to an amplified number of new hypochondriacs.

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The Swedes, who are considered one of the sexiest nations on the planet, haven’t bothered with a lockdown – perhaps because they’ve also a reputation for giving people the cold shoulder at the best of times even before the crisis. But in Lund, a popular Swedish university town, they’ve taken a novel – albeit a very yucky – approach to keeping social distancing, by dumping chicken manure on the streets! They did it to deter its residents from celebrating Walpurgis Night, the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, on May 1. There’s probably a lot of toilet humour on social media about that s**t idea.


At least the Spaniards took the more civilised and much cleaner approach of using bleach on the beaches in Cádiz with the aim of “protecting people” from the coronavirus when the lockdown eases this weekend (from May 2). But it doesn’t really have any scientific logic.

Spain has dished out a strict timetable for different activities (walking or exercising) and age groups to roam the streets again. It might sound like being back in the schoolyard for playtime, but it’s certainly more logical than the Colombian system of allowing their citizens outside on certain days depending on whether or not their national ID card ends in an odd or even number.

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Over in Panama, it’s equally bonkers that men can venture out one day for only two hours maximum and then women the next day. How is that going to curtail the novel coronavirus? They clearly don’t want any hanky-panky going on, it seems. Perhaps they came up with that particular rule after hearing about the orgy that Spanish cops broke up during the first week of their lockdown.

At first glance, the “exercise only times” rule in Spain sounds ridiculous when there’s social distancing, but it’s hard to argue much with the reasoning when scientists believe sweat flying around from joggers is a recipe for disaster.

But the mind boggles on hearing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel – ironically the daughter of a preacher – wants to ban choir singing in churches. Not everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet with that idea. It ‘sounds’ extreme if everybody in the church has enough room to observe social distancing.


What next? They’ll probably ban smoking in public open spaces if scientists fear you can catch the virus from cigarette fumes. Holy smokes! It’s official – the world has gone barking mad, especially when Spain only allowed dog walkers the luxury of going outside for the first six weeks of their lockdown. Serbia, too, had a similar rule for pets but then did a U-turn “to the howl of protests from dog-owners,” the BBC reported.

None of all these off-the-wall rules and regulations are a laughing matter, but future historians are going to be left scratching their heads and chuckling when they talk about the year 2020.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.