Respect the boundaries and stay local - Stephen Jardine

Freedom. Well, sort of. As of yesterday the message is no longer stay at home, instead we are being urged to stay local as coronavirus lockdown measures are gradually eased.

The message has now changes to Stay Local

To avoid confusion, stay local means remaining within the boundary of your local authority for the next 3 weeks. So that’s clear then especially if you live in Joppa on the outskirts of Edinburgh Their local Aldi and Lidl stores are just along the road but they are also across the boundary in East Lothian so that makes them out of bounds.

I know that from staring at a map but how else are you supposed to know where local authority boundaries begin and end?. Most of us have spent our lives travelling around Scotland blissfully unaware of the fact that we might have made the momentous shift from Midlothian into the Borders.

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Edinburgh City Council have been trying to improve our knowledge of local authority boundaries for years. The outskirts of the capital is awash with signposts welcoming us and boasting about being twinned with some forgotten place in Eastern Europe and only serving Fairtrade cuppas in the City Chambers tearoom.

Unfortunately, Edinburgh now has more signs than people so the easiest option is just to ignore them all.

Except now we can’t do that. Suddenly we are all going to have to be hyper aware of boundary lines to avoid breaking the new restrictions. Or will we ?

More probably, this will happen.

Some of the population remain very nervous. These are the people who wear face coverings in their car and would rather jump into the road than risk coming within two metres of someone on the pavement for a millisecond. That was fine during the first lockdown but with traffic volumes back to near normal levels, it is now a high risk strategy.

So what about the rest of us? As most people know, the stay at home message has been liberally interpreted for some time now. You only have to look at traffic congestion on the M8 or the crowds of young people displaying their environmentally aware credentials by littering the Meadows every evening to realise that for some time, people have been bending the rules on essential journeys to suit themselves.

That is not to say people are being deliberately dangerous. Given the extent of the impact on our personal freedoms, the vast majority have been incredibly compliant but one year on, people are weary and gently pushing the boundaries to see what is possible.

For the politicians, the emphasis remains on keeping people safe. You only have to look at the way the pandemic is raging across Europe right now to understand to understand why small steps are sensible.

But with the vaccination programme in full swing and the weather getting better, public confidence is recovering and with that a desire to live life to the full again. The stay local message is designed to put a break on that until the time is right so respecting the boundaries, whatever they might be, is the best direction for all of us to travel right now.

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