There is a palpable sense of hope in the air as spring approaches, with Covid case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths all on the decline and the Scottish Government predicting a move to a “calmer” phase of the pandemic.
Quite apart from the fact that the pandemic is by no means over in countries where vaccination rates are scandalously low, there are people all over Scotland who are not yet feeling this new sense of optimism.
People who are immunosuppressed are concerned others will disregard the remaining protections, neglecting to wear face masks and keep their distance from those still at real risk from the virus.
Unpaid carers, under-valued and over-burdened well before the pandemic, have struggled to cope with the mounting weight of services being reduced and facilities becoming more difficult to access over the past two years.
On top of this many care for loved ones who are vulnerable to Covid, or may feel additional concern for themselves as there is no one to take over caring responsibilities if they become ill.
Residents of care homes, among those who have had the most terrifying and restricted experience throughout the pandemic, still cannot leave their homes and have loved ones to visit without a framework of guidelines that are still far more strict than those governing the general public.
Much has been said about the need to protect the rights of care home residents, but this is still yet to translate into any meaningful action, and while restrictions have eased recently they are still having a hefty impact on residents’ lives.
Covid isn’t over, and there is a chance another variant will come along before long and spoil the fun of getting out and about and back to “normal” in recent weeks.
For some time to come, most of us will likely dip in and out of restrictive measures, as was the case with Omicron.
But the most vulnerable among us have largely remained in this state of heightened alert, and if we’re not careful they will stay there, with no relief, left behind by the rest of us as we celebrate the next phase of the pandemic.