Maree Todd: “be strong and be kind as we face these new challenges.”

It is a measure of how far we had come over the summer that the focus of daily life had, to an extent, has been able to move away from the Covid-19 pandemic and onto getting on with the new normal.

The re-opening of schools last month was one such major step. Thankfully, these will remain open, but there is no easy way to dress up the new restrictions that have come in across Scotland from Wednesday, and those that will come into force from Friday.

This is going to be a tough time for many, after the relative freedom that many of us have come to enjoy as lockdown restrictions were eased during the summer.

However, as the First Minister said in Tuesday’s statement, let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other – be strong and be kind as we face these new challenges.

The restrictions focus on households and in the hospitality sector, as evidence shows that these are the sources of the highest number of new positive cases.

From Wednesday, you should not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household. These rules also apply to children.

Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples. Very limited exemptions apply for childcare, and for tradespeople.

For private gardens or public outdoors spaces:

  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet in outdoor spaces
  • You should limit as far as possible the total number of households you meet in a day
  • Under-12s do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can meet outdoors. Under-12s do not have to physically distance
  • A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required

Also from Wednesday, a maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants. Children under 12 from those two households do not count towards the limits.

Turning to hospitality, from Friday pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings will be required to close at 10pm. Table service will continue to be required in all hospitality premises.

Elsewhere, you should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative.

You must continue to work from home where practicable.

These restrictions will be reviewed within three weeks, with further guidance made available where necessary.

This may seem restrictive for areas like Orkney, and other parts of the Highlands and Islands, where the number of new positive cases have been relatively low in recent weeks. But the message is clear, wherever we live in Scotland, action – and adherence to restrictions – is needed now to safeguard lives, protect from infection and bring the R number below one.

Stay strong folks.

This is a regular column from Maree Todd, SNP MSP. All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their own views.

View a list of the Covid19 updated measures here: #Covid Update in Scotland

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