On government “guidance”, British supermarkets are restricting access to certain goods deemed “non-essential”. That’s got nothing to do with the virus. Staff explaining to customers who are so stupid as not to know how to wear a face mask that we breathe through three holes on our faces and not just through our mouths would reduce viral load by a much greater proportion than preventing customer access to the clothes section of the shop floor. So would encouraging people harder to wipe trolley handles with disinfectant. So would a public relations campaign explaining that masks made of cloth are a joke insofar as they are good at stopping dust but don’t stop so many bacteria or viruses, which are much smaller than dust particles. So would banning those hand-drying machines in public and customer toilets that blow germs all over the place. (Please don’t use them, folks. Just wiggle your hands in the air and they’ll dry in about 20 seconds.) What, then, is the real reason for the rope-offs in shops? What the government and the big business interests it serves are doing is nudging. They are expectation engineering. They are preparing the population for staying docile when the shortages come – actual real shortages: empty shelves, not stocked shelves that you can see but aren’t allowed to buy anything from.
Am still thinking about the army deployment in Liverpool and the billeting of soldiers in the Pontins holiday camp. Even though the culture of the armed forces centres around unquestioning obedience to orders, there is still a nudging and public relations effort internally within the army and the other two services. It would be useful to know more about what is being told to these soldiers in Liverpool. Certainly they are getting a type of experience that is new in the domain of their relations with the home civilian population. A similar thing can be said about some of the staff in supermarkets and other shops.