This paper offers a critique of UK government policy based on mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (which in turn followed misleading advice from the World Health Organisation) through the lens of policymaking as narrative. Two flawed narratives—“Covid is droplet- not airborne-spread” and “Covid is situationally airborne” (that is, airborne transmission is unusual but may occur during aerosol-generating medical procedures and severe indoor crowding)—quickly became dominant despite no evidence to support them. Two important counter-narratives—“Covid is unequivocally airborne” and “Everyone generates aerosols; everyone is vulnerable”— were sidelined despite strong evidence to support them. Tragic consequences of the flawed policy narrative unfolded as social dramas. For example, droplet precautions became ritualised; care home residents died in their thousands; public masking became a libertarian lightning rod; and healthcare settings became occupational health battlegrounds. In a discussion, we call for bold action to ensure that the science of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is freed from the shackles of historical errors, scientific vested interests, ideological manipulation and policy satisficing.