We must keep playing our part to help Christmas - and 2022 - come good - Scotsman leader comment

Scotland's hospitality and leisure industries were braced for a dose of bad news yesterday, expecting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to extend the vaccine passport scheme to pubs, restaurants and other venues.

The Mound in Edinburgh where festive spirit is building after the pandemic cancelled the Christmas celebration last year. PIC: Underbelly.

Their memories of this period, last year, will still be vivid. One year ago today we learnt of a UK-wide relaxation of restrictions for the Christmas period. As welcome as the news was, many immediately thought that a bad idea. Vaccines were months away for most. The virus still ran free.

And, sure enough, on December 19 2020 the First Minister had to announce a deeply unwelcome if largely expected u-turn: restrictions were reimposed for all but Christmas Day, travel to England would become illegal, non-essential retail and hospitality would close from Boxing Day.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

The news came as a desperate blow to all, but especially those business sectors hardest hit by lockdown, and only got worse in the New Year.

What a difference a year - and vaccines - makes. Yesterday, the First Minister was able to announce another u-turn - less anticipated but more welcome. The vaccine passport scheme will not, after all, be extended. Recent negative test results would also be accepted in lieu of a passport.

The announcement was as welcome as it was a surprise: it suggests the Scottish Government is doing as it said it would, in listening to business, examining data on the effectiveness of its measures, and adapting policy to fit.

Opposition politicians will say all this is evidence of policy made up on the hoof. But in this case we find it infinitely preferable to policy making based on old information, or dogma.

Further cheer was offered by the First Minister's statement that, although the situation was precarious, "cases are currently stable and indeed slightly declining".

What welcome news that is: something we would only have dared hope 12 months ago. Scottish businesses, indeed the whole population, must hope that downward trend continues.

Ensuring it does should give us all strong motivation to do all we can to limit the spread, through basic preventative measures, vaccination, and testing. The prize will be a near-to-normal Christmas, a very happy New Year, and a hospitality industry in recovery.

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.