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I went on a mini-break – and realised how truly confused I am about the Covid rules

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Nirian/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Nirian/Getty Images

Mr Z and I went on a mini-break. It was planned for last February, then last June, then this February, and finally happened on Monday, which, by wild coincidence, was the day after our wedding anniversary. When we’re out and about, people never believe we’re married. The butcher thinks I’m his sister. The man in the car-hire place handed me the keys saying, “Do you want to add your colleague as an additional driver?”

“Is it because I’m older than you,” I once asked, miffed, “or because they think you’re out of my league?”

“It might be because we have different surnames,” he floated, mildly.

“That’s your fault,” I pointed out. “You should have taken my name.”

“I,” he superfluously explained, “am already called William.”

Not being married in the eyes of strangers is only the start of my legitimacy crisis. Between the staggered route out of undulating lockdowns, the different rules in different regions, the openness of interpretations and the persistent, intoxicated jobsworthiness of some jobsworths, I can no longer figure out what’s allowed, and when. I didn’t know whether we were doing our bit to kickstart the economy, or breaking the law. Obviously it was the first, otherwise I definitely wouldn’t be telling you about it. Hotels in Scotland were legal. Travel between England and Scotland has been legal since April. But hotels in England are still closed, so would it be technically true to say that English people still aren’t allowed in hotels? In the end, it didn’t matter; when you really drill into the regulations, it turns out that Scottish hotels at that point weren’t allowed to serve alcohol indoors (this changes on 17 May), so we spent all our time outdoors anyway, like Mary and Joseph, who also had a lot of trouble convincing people they were married.

“Should I have brought proof of my first vaccination?” I ruminated, just when it was too late to do anything about it. “Can I readily lay my hands on proof that I had the virus three months ago? Was I meant to bring photo ID, or is that just to prevent made-up voter fraud? Have I got the right papers, and who could plausibly ask for them?” It’s like crossing a border on the eve of a war.

Worth it, though.

  • Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist