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Opening up

Back to the pub – as long as you’ve booked

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

“After the pandemic, it’s the plandemic,” says Martin Hemming in The Sunday Times. This week’s “grand reopening” has shown the “post-lockdown divide” is not between the vaccinated and the unjabbed, but between the organised and the disorganised. “Boring, calendar-filling nerds” have booked up every pub, restaurant and hairdresser. A woman I know had an outdoor breakfast, lunch and dinner on Monday; one colleague booked a table for drinks, a gym session and a “full MoT” at a beauty salon. Meanwhile, “the wild, free and spontaneous” are trapped at home with nothing to do.

That’s me, says James Greig in The Guardian. I won’t get near a lido or pub any time soon, and “my hair will continue to bloom outwards like a horrible mushroom”. It’s a “crushing victory” for the “highly organised go-getters” who spend their weekends scrolling through Time Out. “Can’t they leave the rest of us to our grotty, spontaneous little nights out?” The experience of “marauding between bars” at night is just as important as what you do at any of them. If we’re not careful, Covid will kill impulsiveness itself.

The thing is, “isolation has warped our perception of normality”, says Jo Ellison in the FT. I’ve been fantasising about “rosé, balmy weather and a new wardrobe of evening clothes”, but the reality is that even before lockdown I spent most nights “on the sofa, watching Netflix”. And I suspect I’m not alone. There’s also going to be an “awkward phase of social re-entry” – lockdown preoccupations such as gardening, haircuts and Line of Duty don’t make for sparkling conversation. So good luck to all those with the “irritating foresight” to book breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Soon enough you’ll remember how exhausting it all is and get back to moaning about “late evenings and the obligation of going to parties”.

The big picture

Consumers are doing their bit to get the UK economy going again, says David Smith in The Times. But a “balanced” recovery also requires trade and investment – and there the news isn’t so good. Exports in February were down 18% year on year and the £10.5bn trade deficit for the first two months of 2021 exceeded the total for the whole of 2020. As for business investment, few companies seem eager to take advantage of Rishi Sunak’s generous incentives for capital spending. While “a consumer recovery looks assured”, things are less certain for other key cogs in the economy.