Covid: Scottish government must keep Draconian laws to a minimum – Scotsman comment

The suggestion by Nicola Sturgeon that a new law could be introduced to enforce regional travel restrictions amid the fight against Covid-19 will strike many people as a particularly Draconian step.

Nicola Sturgeon must take care not to spark a public backlash against Covid lockdown restrictions (Picture: PA)
Nicola Sturgeon must take care not to spark a public backlash against Covid lockdown restrictions (Picture: PA)

While she said such a measure did not “sit easily” with her and insisted it would not see police checkpoints set up on council boundaries, the First Minister stressed that “we’re facing a deadly virus” and also that failing to take effective measures to control it would be worse than the loss of the freedom to travel.

The Scotsman has broadly backed the measures taken by both the Scottish and UK governments. They may have taken slightly different approaches, but the basic tactic has been the same – to introduce lockdown controls to reduce the spread of infection, while providing state support for businesses to ensure the economy does not collapse.

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This is eye-wateringly expensive and cannot go on forever, but without an effective mass testing regime, there is little other choice apart from allowing the virus to run its course – a policy rejected by Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and the governments of many other western democracies because of the resulting death toll, damage to the health service and to the economy.

But, the Scottish government must be careful to ensure it retains public support to enable a ‘policing by consent’ approach to continue. Draconian measures must be kept to an absolute minimum lest they spark a backlash that makes the laws effectively unenforceable and damages the overall strategy.

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