Scotland in lockdown one year on: Nation pauses to reflect

The nation will pause today in remembrance of those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic – a year after the country first went into lockdown.

A minute's silence organised by end-of-life charity Marie Curie will be held at 12pm followed by a bell toll, and people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".More than 250 organisations are supporting the day of reflection, including 82 leaders from religious groups and cross-party politicians, care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups.

Don’t miss our special 16 page supplement on lockdown one year on in Scotland in Wednesday’s Scotsman

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The Scottish Government has also announced a £4.1 million fund to develop community projects to help people reflect on the impact of the pandemic on the one-year anniversary of going into lockdown.

Scotland went into lockdown one year ago today

Greenspace Scotland commissioned artists will engage with community groups, faith groups and those hit hardest by the pandemic to shape ideas that benefit communities and reflect local people’s experiences of the pandemic in the Covid Community Memorial projects.

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Scotland in Lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon's speech in full

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who will lead the silence in the Scottish Parliament today, said: “None of us will ever forget this year, which has been like no other. We’ve all made sacrifices, which have helped to save lives in the past 12 months, and many of us have lost loved ones – each one a person who can never be replaced and whose loss is greatly mourned.

“Vaccines now offer us hope that we can soon get back to a more normal way of life, and give us confidence that we can start to set dates for when it may begin to return. But as we move forward, and our daily lives begin to return to normal, we will – we must – remember those we have lost, and continue to offer our thoughts, solidarity and support to the bereaved.

“Today, after a year where we’ve been forced to live our lives apart in ways that for many will have been unimaginably difficult, we will come together to mark the first anniversary of lockdown, to pay our respects to those we have lost, and to reflect on everything we have been through as a nation.

"In the years to come, projects supported by this fund will provide spaces that people will visit, and cherish; where people will be able to gather in person to mark the pandemic and to remember those who have died – and to remember the many ways we supported one another as a nation through an extraordinary period.”

Julie Procter, chief executive of Greenspace Scotland, said: “The heart-breaking and difficult events of the past year have highlighted more than ever how important it is for us all to have access to green space.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will observe the minute's silence privately, said: "The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all, and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones."Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year - one of the most difficult in our country's history."We should also remember the great spirit shown by our nation over this past year. We have all played our part, whether it's working on the front line as a nurse or carer, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to get that jab into arms, home schooling your children, or just by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus."It's because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all."

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “Lockdown has been incredibly challenging in so many ways, but it has also brought out the very best in people. Our NHS and other frontline workers have been outstanding while across society we have seen countless examples of bravery, selflessness and resilience.

“There have been so many heart-warming accounts of people pulling together in these dark and difficult times. As the death toll slows and a return to normal life draws every closer, we will always remember those who lost their lives to the virus. I think many people will no longer take for granted life's simple freedoms when they do finally return.”

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell, who sits on the Holyrood Covid committee, said: “Lockdown showed what we can build on and improve. Many people have successfully worked from home, unnecessary travel has dropped and our appreciation of nature and green space has grown.

"But for every person who has managed to thrive during lockdown, many others have struggled financially, mentally and physically. There are shoots of green recovery, but only if we are serious about tackling the inequality that has inevitably widened in the last year.”

Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said: “We need to take a moment to mark the huge amount of loss we’ve seen in the past 12 months, and show support for everyone who has been bereaved – be that from Covid or any other cause.

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