As virus lockdowns spread across England and Europe, the good fortune of living in our preciously open and safe surrounds

by Colin Campbell

THE whole of England will soon go into near total lockdown, while in Inverness and the Highlands we are at the opposite end of the scale, in the tier one level of minimal restrictions.

It wont take any foul-mouthed utterances from Ian Blackford or nationalist bigots gathered at the border eager to shout abuse at passing drivers to deter English people from travelling north any more this year. The restrictions, the weather and the time of year will take care of that.

We can only be grateful to the many English people who came here on holiday in late summer and throughout the autumn for helping prevent our ailing tourist industry suffering total disaster.

And with hindsight, where is the evidence to back up claims that these visitors would bring the virus with them? As we look back, we can see from very low and very stable infection figures that these claims were entirely baseless. It was the virus of anti-English bigotry doing its malignant work again.

Things don’t feel great here, but there is no comparison with the situation elsewhere and we should probably be grateful for that, although it is not particularly easy to summon up gratitude for anything very much at the moment, particularly for those who have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing their businesses.

For these folk, these are the worst of times.

It was Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to place us in level one and that was the right and obvious action to take. With the latest weekly figures revealing that in the Highlands and Islands there were only 15 reported infections per 100,000 people it would have been beyond belief if she’d done anything else.

MSP David Stewart argued that we should have been placed in level zero which would have removed virtually all restrictions, and based on the figures he certainly had a point, but that was probably too much to hope for.

Those of us in the Highlands have never been more fortunate to be living in our green, pleasant, thinly populated and wide open landscape.

It is because of its geography probably one of the best places in Europe if not the entire world to be in at the moment. We will never experience the extreme difficulties and endless stress of being crammed into vast and crowded cities alongside the coronavirus, with so many in England and across Europe in total lockdown.

The old adage about counting our blessings shouldn’t be forgotten. And through a long, maybe harsh and certainly dreary winter, that is one thought that’ll stay at the forefront of my mind.

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