Masks mainly abandoned in city centre in final step back to normality

by Colin Campbell

EASTER Monday mask freedom day should have represented freedom from Nicola Sturgeon and the end at last of her two year reign of dictating often in the most minute detail how we should live our lives.

Instead she was on the front pages of virtually ever paper and branded a “mask hypocrite” because she was reported to the police by some opportunistic political rival for not wearing a mask for a couple of minutes in a weekend meet and greet visit to a barber’s shop.

People, including many if not most of their readers, want to see less of this woman from now on. Her days of dominance are over. We know she is a hypocrite to the core. It was still ludicrous on mask freedom day to try and whip up a fake controversy over a maskless Sturgeon and a barber’s shop.

It was claimed she was falling short in being “caught out” while urging people to still wear masks when they considered it necessary, and failing to set a proper example.

In this mish mash of reporting, what example would that be?

The vast majority of people from now on will decide for themselves if or when they will wear masks. Nicola Sturgeon, finally, has nothing more to do with it.

Back in the real world, masks were mainly abandoned in Inverness city centre yesterday. The number of people still wearing them was dwarfed by the much larger number who were not.

The Eastgate Centre yesterday, mask free at last.

The supposition that many people will still be “cautious” now the mandatory mask rule has been removed may well prove to be wrong.

On busy buses I boarded virtually no masks were being worn.

In the Tesco store in Tomnahurich Street, few customers were wearing masks. Staff had abandoned them as well. For the past 20 months people working there had been facially identifiable only by their eyes. Yesterday around the checkouts I couldn’t help noting, “So that’s what you look like”.

It was a reminder of how unnatural our downtown Jeddah city centre has been for so long. Where faces, the good, the bad and the ugly, have been hidden away for so long under pieces of cloth.

And over the tannoy, for the first time in two years there was no automated droning voice repeatedly reminding customers about “government regulations”. The silence seemed deafening, and it was a pleasure to listen to it.

The Eastgate Centre was transformed, with few people wearing masks. Yesterday was also the first day for a long time when it was possible to browse and linger in the centre without feeling the need to escape for a breath of fresh air.

Notices were up at Inverness leisure centre reminding users that masks were no longer compulsory. A few people wore them but most didn’t. The utterly bizarre spectacle of people trying to use exercise machines while breathing heavily through masks was gone.

So Easter Monday and mask freedom day brought the final step back to full normality.

And not even those papers, Nicola Sturgeon and the barber’s shop nonsense could sully it.

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