Why we must not let lockdown become habit-forming – leader comment

Just as the public largely trusted politicians over the coronavirus lockdown, we must show some faith as the restrictions are eased.

The main message from the Scottish Government is still stay at home but some restrictions have been lifted to allow more people to work
The main message from the Scottish Government is still stay at home but some restrictions have been lifted to allow more people to work

The decision of most of Scotland’s outdoor nurseries to remain closed – despite a new lockdown regime that allows them to re-open – highlights the importance of vital choices that many businesses and individuals are now having to make.

Outdoor nurseries want to start looking after children again but, quite sensibly, wish to do so in a way that is both safe and financially viable. With that in mind, they have asked the Scottish Government for further details about the process.

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As we have said previously, the Government is right to be cautious about relaxing the lockdown but they do need to work with employers and unions to ensure that all concerned receive the best advice and any problems or disputes are swiftly resolved.

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Those sectors of the economy that can safely re-open should do so as quickly as possible. There was further evidence yesterday of the reason why with the announcement of the loss of 700 jobs at Rolls-Royce’s plant in Renfrewshire, described as a “hammer blow” by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. The hotel group IHG also warned staff that redundancies were likely.

The Scotsman has consistently urged people to take the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak seriously, to abide by the lockdown’s restrictions and to have some faith in both Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson. And now, although it may pain many people to do so, we need to trust our governments to do the right thing over the relaxation of the restrictions.

Everyone is perfectly entitled to make their own decisions about what they want to do and what they feel safe doing. But if we all remain cooped up inside, in lonely self-isolation, the damage to Scotland’s economy will only get worse and eventually the problems that result will arrive at our door.

We are not in any way suggesting people should copy the reckless fools who flocked to beaches and parks last weekend, openly flouting social distancing rules. Their actions increase the risk of a disastrous escalation in the rate of infection and the dreaded second wave, resulting in more deaths, heartache and grief and the closure of businesses that are currently just about managing to survive.

However, we must not let the lockdown become habit-forming, get inside our heads and make us afraid to go outside. We do need to be open to the idea of re-opening our economy in a cautious and sensible way.

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