Scotland can celebrate the good news on Covid – leader comment

We can all be proud that our lockdown discipline has led to a dramatic fall in the spread of the virus, enabling the further relaxation of lockdown restrictions from next month.

Hairdressers are preparing to welcome customers back to the salon and they may have their work cut out (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
Hairdressers are preparing to welcome customers back to the salon and they may have their work cut out (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Congratulations, well done and take a bow. We the public deserve considerable plaudits because, by sticking to the lockdown restrictions in vast numbers, we have helped to dramatically reduce the spread of coronavirus in Scotland.

Our reward will be much greater than words of praise. For one, we are soon going to be allowed to get our hair cut by a professional, which will be of enormous relief for many, especially those moved by desperation to try their own hand at a quick tidy up, only to discover that it’s more difficult than it looks.

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Life is about to return to something much closer than normal after the Scottish Government announced dates for a major relaxation of the lockdown’s restrictions next month. From 3 July, the five-mile travel limit will be lifted; on 6 July, beer gardens will be able to re-open; from 10 July, people from two households will be able to meet indoors; from 13 July, shopping centres will be allowed to fully re-open; while pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, holiday cottages and more will be back in businesses from 15 July.

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Scottish pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to open from July 15

All this will go a long way to lifting our spirits and banishing the gloom that descended with the virus and lockdown. There are still restrictions and we all need to take care to abide by them, but if the disease continues to recede then we are over the worst and can gradually get back to work, to seeing our family and friends, and living life to its fullest. Many will do so with a renewed understanding of just what is truly important in life and that should inform the significant task now ahead of us all of restoring Scotland’s economy, upon which all our livelihoods ultimately depend, to a healthy condition.

The easing of the restrictions is a key step in achieving this aim, but it is unlikely that we will simply bounce back. Lasting damage has been caused and, as state support is phased out, further job losses are likely. So, even if the virus is on its way out, we are still facing a serious crisis.

And, regrettably, we may not be witnessing the last days of Covid-19. The World Health Organisation recently warned the infection was accelerating globally with some places experiencing renewed outbreaks of infection. In an open letter published in the BMJ medical journal, leading UK experts warned a second wave was a “real risk”.

We all hope this is nearly over, but we cannot let that blind us to the danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in this bitter fight against a deadly disease.

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