RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Everybody back on the plane!

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Everybody back on the plane! Summer’s just been cancelled

Wish you were here? You will be. You’re not going anywhere. On the busiest getaway weekend of the year, the Government announced that anyone returning from Spain would have to quarantine for 14 days.

Thousands of people were still in the air when this announcement was made and only learned about it when they landed. They’d earlier been assured that it was perfectly safe to travel to the Med.

Faced with the prospect of losing two weeks’ wages, some holidaymakers understandably took the snap decision to turn straight round and head home before the new rules came into force at midnight on Saturday.

Since then, hardly surprisingly, there’s been a mad scramble to cancel planned holidays to other European destinations, including France, Italy and Greece.

Be fair, though. Ministers only had nine days to make up their minds. Evidence of a second Covid spike in Spain didn’t emerge until the week before last.

It was late on Saturday afternoon that they went into full Corporal Jones mode, pulling the plug with just five hours’ notice.

Don’t panic!

The news came out of a clear blue sky, in complete contrast to the blanket imposition of face masks, announced ten days in advance.

Yet, even though we were given notice that it was coming, for a week and a half — indeed, since the start of lockdown in March — ministers continued to convey the impression that there was no urgent need for mass face covering.

Wish you were here? You will be. You’re not going anywhere. On the busiest getaway weekend of the year, the Government announced that anyone returning from Spain would have to quarantine for 14 days

Then — shazaam! — as of last Friday, unless everyone muzzles up, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! Refuse to comply and you’ll be hit with a £100 fine.

What changed overnight between last Thursday and Friday? Your guess is as good as mine. The Government has no credible explanation.

So maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised by the U-turn on holidays in Spain. It’s typical of their incoherent response to the pandemic.

Joined-up government? You must be joking.

The hapless junior minister they sent out to do the rounds of TV and radio yesterday sounded as if she’d only just learned to do joined-up handwriting.

Having bailed out British Airways to the tune of £300 million and given easyJet an emergency loan, they’ve now ensured that no one will risk flying to Europe for the foreseeable future — just in case they are forced to self-isolate for a fortnight on their return.

That could prove the final nail in the travel industry’s coffin.

Having allowed ‘non-essential’ retailers to reopen, they have made shopping such an unpleasant experience — through the insistence on face masks — that few people can be bothered.

Having spent millions subsidising half-price hamburgers all round, to encourage people to eat out as often as possible, they’re now proposing to ban fast food advertising before the watershed, and force cafes and takeaways to list calorie, salt and sugar content on their menus.

McDonald’s will survive, but many already struggling independent caffs and restaurants will collapse under the bureaucratic burden.

Oh, and how does Boris think his war on fast food and chocolate bars will play among those Red Wall voters who lent the Tories their votes last time?

Since his own brush with mortality, he’s been captured and chained to a radiator by the militant ‘healthy eating’ lobby and has now acceded to all their wildest demands.

If Boris was still writing a newspaper column, he’d be fulminating against this illiberal anti-obesity campaign. In fact, I can remember his splendid piece in defence of Northern mums who were pushing chips through school railings when Jamie Oliver declared war on turkey twizzlers.

The ad ban will cost ITV alone at least £200 million, at a time when they are struggling to fight off the challenge from giant streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

That’ll mean slashed budgets for original drama and news, which will inevitably lead to job losses.

Meanwhile, our city centres are ghost towns partly because, with trains and buses running well below capacity, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps encouraged Left-wing councils to introduce draconian anti-car measures, as a sop to ‘green’ fanatics.

Vote Tory, get Extinction Rebellion.

The only good news is that Shapps is himself stuck in Spain, too, so at least we won’t have to put up with him for two weeks when he gets back.

McDonald’s will survive, but many already struggling independent caffs and restaurants will collapse under the bureaucratic burden

Lucky for him. For now, he won’t have to face the righteous wrath of shopkeepers in his Hertfordshire constituency, who are being forced out of business because his anti-car totalitarianism has driven away the vast majority of their customers.

Anyone with half a brain could have seen that coming. Don’t ministers ever talk to each other? Doesn’t anybody ever think through the potential pitfalls and obvious contradictions of their scattergun ‘emergency’ measures?

Maybe they were locked in their online Zoom bubbles for so long, they lost the ability to see the bigger picture.

The Cabinet only met in the flesh last week for the first time in four months. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Boris finally addressed them face-to-face?

Welcome colleagues. You’re probably wondering why I called you all here today, ha-ha.

(Silence and puzzled looks all round.)

Jack Hawkins, League of Gentlemen. No? Never mind. Where are we up to, Rishi?

We’ve borrowed £300 billion and we’re extending the furlough until the end of October. After that, all bets are off, but we should be able to keep unemployment down to around four million.

Splendid.

We’ve cut VAT on eating out and I’m spending £10 million subsidising half-price hamburgers and cheeky Nando’s.

 The Cabinet only met in the flesh last week for the first time in four months. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Boris finally addressed them face-to-face?

Excellent. And how’s that going?

Well, Prime Minister, there’s a bit of confusion over face coverings.

How so?

If you eat inside, you are not required to wear a mask, but if you take your food away, you do have to wear one.

Why?

Search me, Boss. Blame the science, that’s what we usually do.

How does buying millions of burgers tie in with our anti-obesity strategy?

We’ve got that covered. I’m also increasing funding to the NHS so that gastric band surgery is available to anyone who wants it. And we’re banning fast food advertising and giving away free cycling lessons to the clinically obese.

Who thought that was a good idea?

You did, boss.

Fair enough. What are we doing to get the retail sector going again?

We’re making everyone wear a face mask, except the staff.

What about pubs?

No.

No, what?

No, you don’t have to wear a mask in pubs, or gyms for that matter. Just shops.

Isn’t that a tad, er, inconsistent?

We’re only following . . .

Yes, yes, I know, ‘the science’. Look, we’ve got to get Britain moving again. How’s that going, Grant?

We bailed out London Transport to the tune of £1.6 billion.

So the Tubes and the buses are up and running at full capacity again?

Not exactly, Boris. Mayor Khan spent the lot on banning cars, building bike lanes and widening the pavements.

And is it working?

Nope. Central London is as deserted as Pyongyang during a rehearsal for a nuclear attack.

I’ve had Andrew Lloyd Webber on the blower. He says the West End won’t survive much longer. He wants to know why you can sit like sardines on an airplane for three hours, but not in a theatre.

Not a clue. We’re only following . . .

Don’t tell me, the science.

Precisely.

But the planes are flying again?

Absolutely.

I should hope so, too. We’ve bunged BA 300 million big ones.

In fact I’m flying off to Spain myself once this Cabinet meeting’s over. Thought I should set an example.

Safe travels, Grant. Missing you already . . .

When the Government told us to wear masks to go shopping, this chap, photographed in London’s Oxford Street must have misread the memo.

He’s sticking to the spirit of the law, if not the letter.

Apparently, when he went into Starbucks for a skinny latte and a five-cheese toastie, the woman behind the counter said: ‘Haven’t you got anything smaller?’

When the Government told us to wear masks to go shopping, this chap, photographed in London’s Oxford Street must have misread the memo

Had to laugh when I read that Harry took Meghan to Botswana on their third date. Apparently, he’d also been there with his previous girlfriends, Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas.

Private Eye magazine always used ‘Discussing Ugandan Affairs’ as a euphemism for sexual congress.

Maybe ‘Visiting Botswana’ is the new ‘Discussing Uganda’.

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