by Colin Campbell
THE options available to Nicola Sturgeon in her ceaseless efforts to do things differently from Boris Johnson over the past 15 months now seem to have been whittled down to one only, that north of the border we must continue wearing face masks.
If that’s the only divide between the removal of restrictions in Scotland and England then so be it.
Many of us don’t like wearing these masks and would like to get rid of them completely.
But it’s not an imposition that’s going to cause a mass revolt.
I’ve stopped reading the endless back and forth arguments which have reached new heights in the past week since Boris Johnson announced the impending arrival of Freedom Day in England about how effective these masks are, or whether they are of any benefit at all.
In England, after July 19, they will longer be compulsory.
But the indecision around their effectiveness in Scotland is scarcely lessened by remembering how long it took for them to be introduced.
For several months after the virus crisis began a year last March there were no masks being worn, in shops or anywhere else.
Then, suddenly, they were deemed essential. It was never revealed what scientific advice that decision was based on. But it was made when Sturgeon was at the height of her dictatorial powers and every order she followed had to be obeyed without question.
And back then, in what seems a different era, she did enjoy fairly wide support for the way she was handling the virus, ranging from starry-eyed adulation among some to grudging acceptance among many others.
Now waning confidence in her has been shattered by Scotland’s new status as the covid infection “hotspot of Europe”.
She presumably now knows those heady days of exercising supreme power over every aspect of our lives are over, and despite the inexplicably morbid outlook of the “new lockdown by winter” doom mongers, they are gone for good.
There will be no further lockdowns no matter how many variants emerge. Boris Johnson has said the ending of restrictions is irreversible, and while Sturgeon has muttered some disapproval of that statement she must know she could never get away with shutting down Scotland again while freedom prevailed in every sector of life across England.
The vast majority of people across Scotland have been vaccinated and vaccination is our saviour from the curse of the coronavirus.
Raigmore Hospital has moved into “code black” status but the alarmist “coronavirus crisis” headlines surrounding this were misleading.
In the latest updates from NHS Highland we are told a number of staff have had to self to isolate because of virus contact but a significant contributory factor to the difficulties there is due to the number of staff taking their annual leave.
Virus infections are rising in the Highlands but the number of people hospitalised by covid remains extremely low. Only 10 virus patients were in Raigmore and other Highland hospitals yesterday.
Infections rising, but hospitalisations still at the most minimal level. The code black alert has in fact served to highlight how effectively the vaccine is working. It offers a huge level of protection against illness and a huge amount of reassurance that even in the highly unlikely event you do catch the thing the adverse symptoms will be minimal, if they become evident at all.
Sturgeon’s insistence that we should wear masks in shops and public transport has become an over-inflated issue in the past few days.
It is now a raging controversy when it really shouldn’t be. After a tense and stressful year it seems some people are now unable to resist getting furiously agitated over any lingering controversy connected to the coronavirus.
I don’t like wearing a mask and I get mildly irritated by seeing people wearing them in wide open spaces where there’s no conceivable reason for doing so.
But if we have to wear them for a while longer that’s a minor imposition compared with everything else we’ve been through in the past year.
With the most contentious virus controversy now reduced to whether or not we should adorn our faces with a bit of cloth a couple of times a day, we are very clearly on the home straight back to full normality.