Suddenly, there seemed grounds for alarm and despondency. Boris Johnson was making a speech with no jokes and a serious tone. For once, he sounded prime ministerial. He even looked prime ministerial… sort of. So was the second coming at hand? Not quite. There were two cases of a new Covid variant. Since then, the number has increased.

On the face of it, that is no reason for Boris to alter his sartorial habits or for the rest of us to panic. Then again, if the numbers do increase rapidly, flippancy would quickly jar. Even if it does turn out that the authorities have been unnecessarily alarmist, there is an argument for basing policy on a worst-case assessment. Were I a minister, I would rather be apologising in three weeks’ time for being unnecessarily restrictive than for standing idly by as the figures roared out of control.