by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS city centre was busy on Friday and Saturday nights, maybe not back to pre-lockdown levels of activity, but there were more revellers around than there were last weekend. The street pastors assisting the hopelessly inebriated will no doubt soon be back.
However, as city nightlife takes off again, a glaring anomaly emerges.
Social distancing in the city centre when the drinking starts is non-existent. That’s the way it was always going to be. Caution and booze are entirely incompatible.
So for multiple hours each weekend the warnings which have entirely dominated and shaped our lives for the past four months are forgotten about by hundreds upon hundreds of people in a social distancing and face mask free zone.
At other times virtually everyone swarming all over the city centre pubs would be dutifully wearing their masks every time they entered a shop. With the continuing downtown Jeddah look of Inverness these days, a significant number would be wearing them while walking along the streets as well.
The contrast between the hours of virus obedience and virus disregard at weekends couldn’t be more stark.
So what are the consequences of that?
We have been well warned what could happen if we become complacent and fail to stick by “the rules”. So what is the actual outcome when large numbers of people visibly do become complacent and completely ignore the rules.
A spike in infections? A localised second wave?
There has been no evidence of that. During the past week and more since the pubs reopened there have been virtually no new reported cases of the virus in Inverness and the Highlands.
Can any conclusions be drawn from this? Would it be rash at this stage to try and make any judgements as to where we are in this still unfolding saga?
Maybe all we do know is what can be seen with the evidence of our own eyes.
During the day Inverness retains its bizarre and unsettling face mask new look.
On weekend nights in the city centre it’s as if the virus had never existed and face masks had never been invented as many hundreds of people pay no heed whatsoever to those intimidating new rules.
And despite every rule in the book over the past four months being broken – there is no indication of any increase in infections.
What this all means is unclear. But the contrast between the face-masked city centre during the day and the free-for-all city centre at weekend nights, depending on your point of view, is either alarming, baffling, or simply absurd.