Scotland's Covid lockdown rules need to be as simple as possible as England's 'freedom day' approaches – Scotsman comment

There is an argument that the Covid lockdown's rules should have been uniform across the UK, simply for the sake of the clarity of message.

Nicola Sturgeon receives her second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA)
Nicola Sturgeon receives her second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

And, if Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and the leaders of Wales and Northern Ireland had presented a united front, it might also have helped remove party politics from the national struggle against the virus.

However, since the pandemic arrived, the four nations have taken slightly different approaches with the Scottish Government generally preferring a more cautious one, at least in terms of trying to limit the spread of the virus, and it seems likely this policy is set to continue as the end of lockdown approaches.

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But what Scottish ministers need to recognise is that the expected great re-opening of society in England on July 19 – dubbed “freedom day” – is going to have a knock-on effect in Scotland particularly among those who are thoroughly sick of the restrictions.

The degree of tolerance for irksome rules will be diminished, as will the willingness to read through pages of new ones to double check whether a particular planned activity is within the law.

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So, given we are set to continue to have a different Covid regime in Scotland, Sturgeon and co need work doubly hard to make sure it is easy to understand and remember. If they fail to do this, they risk defeating their own ends as many people may well just stop co-operating.

Ministers should also prioritise getting rid of those restrictions that do the most harm to the economy. So, for example, the two-metre social distancing rule that still applies in some pubs and restaurants should go before less damaging restrictions, such as the requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport.

Face masks are a nuisance, few of us if any will miss them when they are gone, but they are an effective way to reduce virus transmission and the vast majority of people can go about their everyday lives while wearing them – and that’s what is needed to get the economy back on its feet.

In the meantime, we should all be doing our bit to help usher in Scotland’s “freedom day” – expected in August – sooner rather than later by getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

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