Covid lockdown must be observed in spirit not just the letter of the law – Scotsman comment

It has been entirely understandable during the long months of lockdown that various different sectors of the economy have complained about the way they have been treated and called for restrictions that affect them to be lifted or eased.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is pictured as Celtic leave from Glasgow Airport for their midseason training camp in Dubai on January 2 (Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS Group)
Celtic manager Neil Lennon is pictured as Celtic leave from Glasgow Airport for their midseason training camp in Dubai on January 2 (Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

They have every right to do so and to make a case to be allowed to continue to operate in a way that is safe. In fact, they almost have a duty to speak out, because criticism, if constructive, can help governments make better decisions. Our political masters are not all-seeing and all-knowing and they need help from society at large. Democracy is a two-way street between politicians and people and should never be treated as a top-down process.

However, given a 30 per cent rise in the number of Covid cases requiring hospitalisation over the last two weeks, it is a mistake to get so caught up in complaints following the toughening of restrictions that we allow this snowball into a catalogue of pleas for special exemptions that ignore just how serious the situation now is.

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Scottish health board just 12 patients away from breaching Covid-19 capacity

The unavoidable reality is that this deadly virus is once again threatening to overwhelm our hospitals – as of yesterday there were 1,347 people with the virus in Scottish hospitals, compared to 1,520 during the peak in April, and one health board, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, was yesterday reported to be just 12 Covid patients away from breaching its bed capacity.

So it is vitally important for everyone to pull together and play an effective part in our collective response.

Avoiding a general mood of complaint about these onerous restrictions on our customary freedoms relies on good leadership and for society’s role models to be good ones. That is why Dominic Cummings should have been sacked long before he left Downing Street and why breaking the Covid rules is a resignation issue for politicians and senior civil servants.

And this has to be about more than simply following the letter of the law. Celtic football club has stressed that its controversial warm-weather training camp to Dubai had been “approved by all relevant footballing authorities” and was within the Scottish government’s guidelines.

However, it hardly sets a good example and was a poor decision. Given it could be argued football has already been given special treatment – partly because people miss it so much – many may view the decision to take the trip, while the rest of us are stuck at home, as taking a considerable liberty too. Nicola Sturgeon said the situation would be looked into and added: “For me, the question for Celtic is what is the purpose of them being there?” What indeed.

As individuals, organisations and a nation in these troubled times, we should not always be pleading our own case or looking for things that we can do but should not, but instead try to go above and beyond in our efforts to stop the spread of this awful disease.

That involves taking personal responsibility for our actions and making common sense decisions about what is reasonable and what is not on a daily basis.

In contrast to some in the football world, Scotland’s other national sport, golf, is winning plaudits for its efforts. Scotland is now the only country in the UK and Ireland where golf courses are still officially open, wintry weather permitting, despite the reimposition of the strict lockdown.

That is partly because golf has not been identified as a problem area for Covid transmission. If it was, it would have been shut down.

It may be ideally suited for two individuals to play while maintaining social distancing, but, as our correspondent Martin Dempster has pointed out, the decision to allow the sport to continue is a credit to its efforts. And not all of them will have been directly mandated by the powers that be.

This is tough, the toughest time many have faced, but the mass vaccination programme is rolling and the end is in sight. It will come sooner if we all work together.

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