March lockdown was period of optimism and certainty compared with where we are now

by Colin Campbell

ON March 24 the headline appeared here: “Inverness in lockdown as range of new restrictions are imposed.”

Lockdown in March…and the feeling of certainty that it would all be over in a few months time.

That followed the announcement of the most drastic curtailment in human activity in the history of the Highland capital.

Never in our worst imaginings did we think that later in the year, in September, we might be presenting the same headline with the word  “again” at the end of it.

But that seems the way things are rapidly heading now. It may not be as all-encompassing as the first one, but a lockdown in some form it’ll be nevertheless.

What is termed a “circuit breaker” to try and halt the spread of a second wave of the virus appears imminent in Scotland. It is said a second lockdown will last for only a limited period of two weeks.

But if it only lasts two weeks you seriously have to wonder how much it will achieve. If it last longer it’ll feel like we’re back where we started six months ago.

Hard to believe, but compared with where we are now, those dark days at the beginning of this crisis almost deserve to be remembered as a time of confidence and hope, with a large dose of certainty thrown in.

That was because it was widely believed it was a case of accepting and adapting to difficult circumstances which would last for a limited period of time.

And than we’d break free of it.

Now it’s all too clear this virus has us by the throat, and isn’t letting go.

People will handle this ongoing crisis in their own way and many, particularly younger people, will still take it in their stride – minus those reckless and ridiculous house parties, we can only hope.

But for others this may be the darkest month so far.

It’s now all too clear that there is no end in sight to this. That will come only when a vaccine is developed and projections on that score based on hope and speculation offer little reassurance.

Worst of all, we are heading into winter. Prolonged periods of glorious sunshine in April and May were a sheer blessing in helping lift people’s mood.

We will soon be saying goodbye to that.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Infection rates in Inverness and the Highlands are still very, very low. The chances of catching the virus remain, for now, very low. Raigmore and the newly adapted Royal Northern Infirmary should be able to cope, even if things take a serious turn for the worse.

But the fear factor is rampant. Those endless TV warnings from earlier in the year are still lodged in people’s minds, and they’ll take some shifting, as will the harrowing TV pictures of suffering or dying virus victims in the south.

Everyone I’ve spoken to is, at best, very fed up with it all, and at worst, fearful of what lies ahead.

It’s just as well we couldn’t foresee back in March where we are now.

And all bets are off on what where we’ll be next March. Or even in March, 2022.

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