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lockdown shopping

Life, Oxford — June 2020

Yesterday I made my first visit to Blackwells bookshop, one of the shops that has reopened with the easing of lockdown. I bought Marcia Williams' Tales From Shakespeare for Helen and (an impromptu find) Ross MacPhee's End of the Megafauna.

Before that, I think I had visited just four shops in the four months or so of lockdown: the corner Coop, where I went twice to get food (Camilla has coordinated online ordering to cover almost everything) and once to send some post, once to a corner store on Cricket Rd, again for food top-up, twice to the local bike shop, where I had some repairs done, and twice to the G+D's icecream shop on Little Clarendon St.

Blackwells has some one-way routing, hand-sanitiser on entry and exit, and a system where books you've browsed are put on a trolley for sanitisation before being returned to the shelves. There are some screens at purchase desks, but the staff weren't wearing masks. It all seemed ok, but largely because visitor numbers were very low — there were maybe six people in the whole Norrington Room — and I'm not sure how it will scale to larger numbers of visitors. There was a staff member out on the street, so possibly they will restrict numbers. (There's surely a big market now for devices that count entries and exits and display "FULL" when necessary.)

The Little Clarendon St G+Ds (Oxford's local icecreamery) has removed some seating to get more space and is only allowing one person in along with the person being served. That seems to work pretty effectively.

The bicycle shop is similarly only allowing one customer in at a time, and has hand-sanitiser handy. And their business model doesn't require large numbers of customers at any one time. (And there's a fair bit of hand-washing involved with anything to do with bike maintainance.)

The supermarkets are the most worrying: too many people, too cramped, and no real way to keep any distance. The best I can do here is to wear a mask and minimise residency time, by choosing off-peak visit times and being focused about what I need to get.

I've gone from "use an ATM twice a month and pay for everything in cash" to using contactless everywhere.


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