As we move into Phase 3 of Scotland’s route map through and out of the Covid-19 crisis, there are definite signs of positive progress in repressing the virus, but this is very much thanks to a continued cautious approach.
With the mandatory requirement for the wearing of face coverings in shops coming into force last Friday, the vast majority of folk appear to have recognised that this is a necessary move to protect each other. Levels of compliance are high and I know that producers of facemasks in Orkney have been extremely busy with their sewing machines fulfilling orders.
By wearing a face covering, you are reducing the risk of unknowingly infecting others with coronavirus. In Scotland, face coverings must be worn in shops and on public transport, with some exceptions.
There was a certain amount of negative comment about the Scottish Government move on face coverings, both within Scotland from some quarters, and from south of the border – yes, despite what Boris Johnson might say, there is a border between Scotland and England. However, with the Tories at Westminster now having performed a u-turn and decided that face coverings will soon become mandatory in England, it seems that Scotland has lead the way on this in terms of recognising the potential positive impact.
The message of FACTS – Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean hands regularly, Two metre distance, and Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms – is one that we all need to follow, as it is the sum of our individual actions, our collective endeavour, that is suppressing the virus.
Another aspect of the move through Phase 3 is the wider movement of people within Scotland, especially as the tourist industry begins to open up.
All holiday accommodation is permitted from today, 15th July, along with museums, galleries, monuments, libraries, various other visitor attractions, including cinemas (with physical distancing and other measures).
An understandable level of concern has been voiced by folk who live in areas that would normally be welcoming tourists with open arms. A balance has to be found though, because we Scots are also rightly proud of our country and want visitors to enjoy it responsibly so that our tourist industry can start to function.
Bearing that in mind, I feel the film released last week by Orkney tourism providers struck a perfect tone for the nation. The message to visitors to make their stay a safe one is something that I hope everyone travelling around Scotland will take on board in the coming weeks and months. It is clear that those featured in the film want to protect their fellow islanders – and their local health services – while extending a welcome to the first post-lockdown visitors.
Both the way Scotland has led on making face coverings mandatory in shops and on public transport, and this positive message to visitors to enjoy our country safely suggest to me that everyone else should be looking north and following our lead.
Stay safe folks.
This is a regular column by SNP MSP Maree Todd. All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their own personal views.