Nicola Sturgeon has been more cautious than Boris Johnson is re-opening the economy from the depths of the coronavirus lockdown.
For some people, she’s been too tentative, putting people’s livelihoods in danger and increasing the already severe damage to Scotland’s economy, while others think Boris Johnson has been too quick and that his strategy risks a ‘second wave’ that would threaten both jobs and lives.
So far, it is difficult to tell which leader is getting this delicate balance right. If Scotland plunges into a devastating recession, with serious consequences for our health and well-being, while England’s economy recovers quickly and the rate of infection stays low, the First Minister will face strong criticism. If England is forced to reintroduce lockdown measures across the country as the virus flares up again, while Scotland is able to continue re-opening because Covid infections are low, the Prime Minister will be the one in the firing line.
But they both are required to make the best judgements they can about the right course of action amid considerable uncertainty over what the future will hold. And, whether anyone likes it or not, it is their call to make. Nicola Sturgeon yesterday spoke of the need to “inject a note of caution about what we might expect for the next few weeks”, saying phase three of the easing of lockdown would last longer than the previous ones.
“Our main focus right now, and I think it is a priority that will have widespread agreement across the country, is on keeping the virus at a low enough level to enable schools to full and safely reopen from 11 August,” she added.
The Scotsman has previously called for work to enable the re-opening of swimming pools to be prioritised, given the benefits exercise has on health, but this latest announcement suggests they and other facilities, such as gyms, may need to wait longer than we had hoped. This is disappointing.
However, in the fight against the serious threat to public health still posed by the Covid-19 coronavirus, it is absolutely vital that Scotland has a single plan and that we all stick to it – even if we think the First Minister and her Government are making the wrong decisions.
For, as we have said before, if everyone decides to start doing whatever they want to do, we will end up with no plan at all. And that would be to risk the worst of all worlds.
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