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After my grant application was rejected, I needed something to cheer me up. I found it in three crucial words in the ‘Going to work’ section of the UK government’s catchily titled document ‘Staying alert and safe (social distancing)’, published on 11 May. The words in question were “and scientific research”. They signalled the phased lifting of some aspects of lockdown in England; specifically, they paved the way for a limited return to work for scientists who work in wet laboratories and cannot work from home.