The thing about these lockdown rules is that they seem so random. There is neither rhyme nor reason, just a hotch potch of ideas that various people have seemingly thought up, and added to a mix that some of us are having difficulty understanding.

In some circumstances we must keep one metre apart, in others two metres. Without referring to the official Covid-19 website, most people probably wouldn't know which rule applies in any given situation, although there are some, in Kaitaia at least, who are playing it safe by going for as big a gap as they possibly can in anything remotely approaching a confined space.

Encouragingly, the government has shown a willingness to think again when its decisions are seriously challenged. Like lifting the permitted number of mourners at funerals and tangi from 10 to 50 - nothing like a whiff of widespread unpopularity to restore common sense - but those who like to gather to express and share their faith have not emerged in sufficient numbers to overturn what amounts to a ban on church services, although a little lateral thinking could easily circumvent that.

Someone suggested, when the 10 people limit was still in force, that funerals could take place in pubs or restaurants, which would have allowed for congregations of up to 100. Everyone would have to be seated, of course, and eating something, but that would not be insurmountable.


Or they could have gone to a cinema. Picture theatres, are obviously seen as more dangerous than pubs, and it would still have been a small funeral, but most establishments could have catered for more than 10 people and still complied.

The eminently sensible decision to open schools was another anomaly. Teenagers might have a handle on the need for social distancing and constant washing of hands, but younger children probably don't. Parents have been conditioned, without total success, to accept the inevitability that their kids will be mixing and mingling with others in relative safety, given that children, we are told, are not Covid-19's chosen demographic. That doesn't mean they won't catch it, only that if they do they are unlikely to fall seriously ill.

The same could not be said for their teachers, but perhaps they are expendable.

The real confusion, however, is to be found within the sex industry. Despite the restrictions on funerals and cinemas, pubs and restaurants, and the effective ban on church services, all based on the dire need to keep our distance from anyone who is not in our personal bubble lest we contract this virus, brothels are go. Well, the government says they are. Those who provide the service aren't so sure.

A couple of problems arise here. How on Earth does one complete one's transaction with a prostitute whilst maintaining social distancing? Perhaps this is one of those fields of human endeavour where one metre is regarded as sufficient, but even that must pose problems.

One does not have personal experience, but one suspects that patronising a prostitute whilst maintaining the social distancing required in a bank, for example, would not so much be less than satisfactory, but impossible. Perhaps there's an app we can download that tells us how it is done. Or perhaps prostitutes and their clients are exempt from the social distance rule, which begs the question as to how your average brothel, car park or whatever, is less likely to provide an opportunity for Covid-19 to spread than a church, a cinema, a pub or a restaurant.

Equally pertinently, the requirement that we must all record where we go, who we interact with and when, doesn't seem to work especially well within the sex industry. It must have come as a surprise to those who make the rules to learn that some client's aren't especially keen to give their name, address and phone number. Those who refuse to co-operate won't be the problem - they can be told to go away - but some, it seems, are maintaining their anonymity by giving someone else's details. Who would have imagined that?

The upside of that, of course, includes the opportunity to settle any old scores. What better way to drop someone in it than by heading for a brothel and pretending to be someone else? And handing over that person's phone number and email address, and happily watching someone record the date, time and location of the transaction? Best not to use the app for that.


That's taking this team of five million thing a bit far, isn't it? Sex workers obviously think so. Some were complaining last week that they were struggling to balance the privacy of their clients with the need to record contact tracing information. That concern was putting some off the idea of going back to work just yet, but it is reasonable to assume that there will be others who have little financial choice.

The sex industry generally is one fraught with risk for the service provider, and to a lesser degree the client, but many of the former, one imagines, will have added Covid-19 to the existing risks that they they must simply accept, and manage as best they can.

One Wellington escort was reported last week as "sitting" on a backlog of bookings, being somewhat reluctant to accept the advice of the Prostitutes' Collective and WorkSafe(!) to collect the details of her clients. She didn't see many of them being happy about giving her their real names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Another escort, in Christchurch, said she had resumed seeing some of her regular clients, but was worried about colleagues who were not in a position to pick and choose. Some, she said, were going to have to make a difficult choice between seeing a client, and maybe not being able to get proper contact information, versus turning down the client and "probably much-needed funds."

You might think that should have occurred to whoever it was who decided that the sex industry could resume all but normal service whilst complying with the Covid-19 rules. That they didn't must cast some doubt on the intellectual fire power of these people, and their connection to the real world.

And if the people who will be organising September's general election are any guide, this distancing thing will be part of our lives for a long time to come.

This was explained by a hitherto anonymous civil servant who grabbed her 15 minutes of fame a week or two ago, explaining how we would be voting, including the advice we can expect to be given to, if possible, take our own pen to the polling booth. No mention at this stage requiring haz mat suits, but there's plenty of time to attend to the finer details.

Perhaps they could put polling booths in brothels. At least then it would (theoretically) be possible to ensure that the client was giving their correct name, although there would still be no guarantees.

There was a story some years ago of a man enrolling his dog to vote, which doesn't inspire huge confidence in the system's ability to distinguish between those who are telling the truth and those who aren't.

In the meantime, anyone who has the discombobulating experience of being Covid-19 contact traced as a brothel patron will presumably have a pretty good defence.

If anyone is prepared to believe it.