For those of us who watched the First Minister’s update on Omicron last week, in which she warned that the new variant is possibly already ‘in the community’, there was a sense of impending doom.
This morning Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf all but confirmed that we’re heading for further Covid restrictions when he told Good Morning Scotland that he thinks “it’s inevitable that we will announce additional protective measures”.
Looking back it’s hard to believe we endured multiple state-enforced lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions on our day-to-day lives. It may be that more is yet to come. As a young person, being isolated, unable to participate in hobbies, and forced to study from home was tough. Many others had it even tougher.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that social interaction is a necessity for humans. Here in Scotland, where we’ve often lived under tougher conditions than those south of the border, it has felt as though Nicola Sturgeon feels no such way.
As both a Unionist and a Conservative, it is fair to say I rarely see eye to eye with Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. This is not only down to constitutional affairs but her abandonment of the issues that impact Scots’ every day lives in favour of virtue-signalling and point scoring.
However, her response to Covid has shown her authoritarian instincts in a fresh light. The idea of more restrictions and potentially another lockdown are so acutely severe, not just for all the damage that they do to young people, people with mental health issues, and the wider population, but of course to the economy. It has been claimed that another national lockdown could knock 6 per cent off GDP.
We have all seen the work the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has done to try and avoid the pain of mass unemployment. I doubt such as scheme would even have been possible in an independent Scotland.
But at this point, we simply cannot afford to head down this dark path again, just as our economy is being to repair itself. It is imperative that as many sectors are kept as open as possible to ensure protection of jobs, and that vital feeding to the economy. The Scottish Government has received £8.6 billion pounds from the Treasury alone to combat the effects of Covid restrictions – further restrictions will demand more at a time when economic growth is already stagnating.
The effect of ever-changing rules will come at a cost. The Scottish government implemented their ‘vaccine passport scheme’ in early October. It has now reverted back to the old system of a negative lateral flow test being sufficient to enter certain venues. The way in which the Scottish government has chopped and changed their demands on the public is inhumane and morally questionable – all contributing to an atmosphere of uncertainty that will impact business and consumer confidence.
I do wonder if had those who voted SNP back in May known that the government would behave in such a manner they would still have given them their ballot.
With over 76 per cent of the UK population now double vaccinated, as well as over 30 per cent have received the booster jab, we should surely be able to keep society functioning.
The pandemic has, in many ways, highlighted the importance of the UK working together. While restrictions have differed, it is essential that we keep society functioning, moving forward and, crucially, by assisting and working together as a United Kingdom.