OPINION: Keep doing the right thing until we’re past OUR peak

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There was a sense of anticipation in the air as we waited for the PM’s announcement last night.

But while we constantly yearn for our freedoms again, we also have to realise that caution must not be thrown to the wind.

Thankfully, the slides are showing that the toll on lives is reducing, the number of people in critical care has dropped and people are doing the right thing.

But week seven will be pivotal. The first sign of any sense of easing might be taken as a sign of freedom. Construction workers can go back to work, businesses could start to re-open in three weeks, youngsters could be back in school and even restaurants and bars have new hope on the horizon.

It will certainly blur the edges of what’s allowed, what’s safe and what’s legal.

However, the First Minister of Scotland says hold your horses. We need more time. Scots are not going back to work, businesses aren’t ready to reopen, and children can’t go back to school in the foreseeable future.

And she’s right. While the UK Government has shown the country is ‘past the peak’, Scotland is a little further behind, just as it was at the outbreak.

And the Scottish Government hasn’t wasted any time in telling us all to stay put north of the border.

At Forres Local, we’ve been tracking the number of infections in NHS Grampian from 6 March, and we’re NOT past the peak. We’re approaching it, but if ‘past the peak’ is the right time to ease lockdown, then Scotland is right to stand firm for longer. Yes we want our freedom but even William Wallace would have agreed.

Is Grampian past the peak? We don’t think so.

The problem is there is now disparity between Scotland and the UK message, and it’s going to lead to confusion, not helped by a change in the marketing slogan either. ‘Stay at Home’ has become ‘Stay Alert’, ‘Protect the NHS’ is now ‘Control the Virus’.

But will staying alert mean less people stay at home? Quite possibly, although fines are being increased for flouting the rules.

For clarity, The Scottish Government last night said: “The only change in Scotland is that from Monday you can exercise, near your home, more than once a day” followed by “Please #StayatHome, protect the NHS and save lives”.

Changing the message will change the public’s perception of the lockdown. We shouldn’t be ‘pivoting’ at the stage, it’s too abrupt. We should stand by the message to stay at home and save lives.

Scotland is trailing England on the number of deaths per million population, despite infections being roughly equal. To get more granular, Moray is even lower with just 0.8 deaths per 10k population.

The fly in the ointment could be that we’re still behind the peak, but that’s even more reason to stay at home and save those lives.

While we look to the Governments to help us through this, every one of us has a duty to do the right thing. And with confusing messages, we must trust our gut. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we’re in this together. WE slowed it. Now WE must bring it to a stop.

Marc Hindley
Author: Marc Hindley

Marc has worked as journalist and photographer all over Scotland. He also runs a PR and digital marketing agency Canary Dwarf. He has lived in Forres with his wife and three children since 2001.