Think Britain’s quarantine rules are daft? Some of the policies put in place elsewhere make ours look like the very height of common sense…
Make-up worries in Malaysia
One of the hidden dangers of coronavirus — according to the Malaysian government, at least — is that women might wear less make-up. Releasing a set of public information posters and infographics, the country’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) insisted women should dress up and apply cosmetics “as usual” during lockdown, and advised specifically against “home clothes”. The KPWKM also warned wives against nagging their husbands, instead suggesting women adopt a “funny voice” or ape the idiosyncratic tones of Doraemon, an anime cat character, when encouraging their menfolk to muck in round the house. A “sarcastic tone” was particularly proscribed.
The advice was removed after a social media outcry: “We apologise if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties,” said a spokesperson for the ministry.
“To sit in a park that stinks of chicken manure,” explains Philip Sandberg, mayor of Lund, “is not a pleasant experience.”
Which is why he had the stuff spread all over his city’s Stadsparken park as an anti-Covid measure this April. The beauty spot is normally the focal point of al fresco celebrations for Walpurgis Night, the festival that marks the beginning of spring with picnics, outdoor boozing and general revelry — especially in the university town of Lund. Last year, around 25,000 people descended on the park; and Mayor Sandberg didn’t trust mere fences to keep them away this year.
The smelly deterrent has positive side-effects, he insists — “It is good for the lawns, as chicken manure contains a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen, so that we will get a really nice city park for the summer season” — but there are downfalls too, reckons park superintendent Lars Brobeck. “I’m no expert on manure,” says Lars, “but as far as I understand it will smell a little outside the park as well. I can’t guarantee that the rest of the city will be entirely odour-free.”
Ladies’ day in Peru
Apparently taking its cue from the educational system of pre-1960s Britain, Peru has decided that gender segregation is the key to beating the pandemic. President Martin Vizcarra announced earlier this year that the whole country would adopt the ‘alternate days’ regime: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are to be “men’s days”, when only chaps are allowed to leave their homes; while Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are designated “ladies’ days”, with only the girls getting a pass.
The logic, explained President Vizcarra, was that it was extremely easy for police to see who should and shouldn’t be out in the streets — though authorities in Panama, adopting the same policy, used a different reasoning. There, the thinking was that outdoor activities would reduce because no-one would want to go out without their loved one. (Panamanian president Laurentino Cortizo has obviously never been in a long-term relationship.)
Canada’s rule of sex
Can you catch corona through sex? Not when there’s a wall between you, you can’t, say experts from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. Their advice? “Use barriers, like walls (eg. glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.” (‘Glory holes’, for those who don’t want to have to explain their search history, are round, genitalia-sized openings cut into walls — typically toilet cubicles — to allow anonymous sexual encounters).
The government-funded BCCDC also sagely reminds citizens that “You are your safest sex partner” (can you see where they’re going with this?), and has published “Guidance for clients of sex workers” that includes advice on group sex (“Reduce or minimize”) and “positions that minimize face-to-face contact” (yes, there’s a picture, just in case you weren’t sure what they had in mind).
Only in America
Who says America wasn’t prepared for the Covid-19 crisis? Several states have long-standing laws on their statute books providing for just this kind of emergency — though possibly some are just a little old-fashioned. Montana and New Jersey mandate fines of a full $10 for anyone breaking a government-declared contagion quarantine; Alabama enshrines free travel by boat or railroad for quarantines officers; and Ohio law demands anyone with a dangerous communicable disease “shall at once place in a conspicuous position on the premises where such a person is isolated or quarantined a placard having printed on it, in large letters, the name of the disease”. (Oh, >large< letters? That should halt the spread.)
On the plus side, Massachusetts law guarantees that the government will pay every worker “three-fourths of his regular wages” in the event of a public health crisis — but the 1907 statute sadly caps it at a so-1907 $2 a day…