From shielding to holidays in Spain: How Edinburgh is coping after 100 days of lockdown

Restrictions are easing after more than three months.
Edinburgh has been in lockdown for 100 daysEdinburgh has been in lockdown for 100 days
Edinburgh has been in lockdown for 100 days

Edinburgh is slowly returning to a form of normality after 100 days of lockdown.

Non-essential shops were allowed to reopen yesterday, and you are now permitted to travel outside your local area to meet limited numbers of friends and family outside, and even use their toilet.

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The last 100 days have marked an extraordinary and unprecedented upheaval in people’s lives, and households around Edinburgh have coped with the extended isolation in very different ways.

Abbie Stewart and dad Lawrence StewartAbbie Stewart and dad Lawrence Stewart
Abbie Stewart and dad Lawrence Stewart

Childcare with Covid-19

Wilma MacDonald, 41, struggled to look after a toddler with no childcare after she, her husband and their young son all contracted suspected Covid-19 in early April.

Ms MacDonald, a nutritional therapist and founder of Maverick Motherhood, said she had a cough for a month, and her husband Andrew still coughs when overexerted nearly three months later.

Both parents were bedbound for several days, but luckily they felt the worst symptoms of the virus sequentially so there was always someone well enough to care for three-year-old Cailean, who had a temperature for two days before recovering.

Lizzie Fenwick has been volunteering during lockdonLizzie Fenwick has been volunteering during lockdon
Lizzie Fenwick has been volunteering during lockdon
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“It was one of those things where you think it’s going to get better but then you have another dip,” she said.

Aside from the illness, the biggest challenge for Ms MacDonald and her husband during lockdown was looking after Cailean while also working.

Ms MacDonald is now apprehensive about lockdown restrictions easing, as she has seen the potential severity of the virus even in mild form.

“I’m slightly nervous about the lifting of restrictions as I know what it’s like to have a mild version and I just can’t help thinking what it would be like if it wasn’t mild,” she said.

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She is also concerned about re-entering normal life, as in the months of lockdown she has only left the house for exercise and to visit her local shop.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be in the world any more, I’ve not been anywhere,” she said.

She is looking forward to a hairdresser’s appointment on July 19, which is likely to be her first direct contact with the outside world.

While she is ‘desperate’ to go home to Lewis to see her parents and sister, she does not want to do so prematurely and risk exposing them to the virus.

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“They’ve only had seven cases in the Western Isles and my concern is that if we all start flocking there what else will we bring with us?” she said.

Raising money while shielding

For Lynsey Stewart, 42, the lockdown has exacerbated an already difficult situation as her husband Lawrence, also 42, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer after having beaten the disease several times during his lifetime.

As Mr Stewart is vulnerable and has signed a DNR order his wife and their daughter Abbie, 14, were shielding with him until recently.

“Abbie has had to give up a lot of things she would otherwise have been able to do,” said Ms Stewart.

“She hasn’t been able to see her friends, to go outside.”

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Ms Stewart has now moved to the family home in Bathgate with Abbie to care for her mother Mary, 71, who has Alzheimer’s disease, as her father, Brian, 72, who is his wife’s carer, has been taken ill and is recovering in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

As Ms Stewart’s mother is also vulnerable, she and Abbie continue to avoid contact with the outside world.

Abbie has launched an online fundraiser for other children who’s parents have cancer.

The fundraiser, which has so far raised almost £4,000, has been a distraction and a positive thing for her to focus on during the lockdown period.

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Ms Stewart said the past few months have been busy for the family.

“I don’t feel like I’m in lockdown because I spend all of my time rushing around, I’d love to be sitting on the sofa doing nothing but online shopping,” she said.

‘Curious interlude from reality’

Duncan Edelsten, 69, has found that he quite likes the ‘curious interlude from reality’ lockdown has brought and will continue to live in the same way even as restrictions are lifted – apart from seeing his family and getting a haircut.

He has missed seeing his daughter, who lives in Aberdeen and had a baby on January 10, and said he feels for those who have lost their jobs, especially in the hospitality and entertainment industries.

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But the retiree has enjoyed reading recipe books, working on new dishes, and his daily walk around the gardens of the modern art galleries.

New skills during lockdown

Lizzie Fenwick, 23, has taken on a new project during lockdown, volunteering for The Brain and Spine Foundation after she was furloughed from her job at architecture firm RMJM.

She found the role through Furlonteer, an initiative which matches people around the country who have been furloughed with volunteering opportunities.

Having worked in communications for RMJM, she is now writing case studies for The Brain and Spine foundation’s website and social media.

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The work has opened her eyes to the experiences of those affected by neurological disorders who the charity works with, and given her new skills in telling stories which are often emotive and deeply personal.

She has found her new role so fulfilling that she intends to continue volunteering even after she returns to work next Thursday.

“Feeling responsible for telling these stories has been an honour,” she said.

“It’s kept me motivated during lockdown. I felt a bit lost when my furlough period began and volunteering has given me some purpose during such an unusual time.”

On holiday in Spain

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Darren McMillan spent several months self-isolating at his home in Dalkeith with his son Kyle, 14, who is more at risk of the virus due to Type 1 diabetes.

Mr McMillan is now in Murcia, Spain, on holiday.

He has been assessing the measures in place to stop the spread of the virus there, and hopes to bring Kyle over with him on July 9.

While he will have to quarantine for 14 days on his return to the UK, he was not asked to quarantine on his arrival to Spain.

Kyle had mild Covid-19 symptoms in February, and went into isolation from then until June and the beginning of Phase Two.

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“He was dying to get out, but he was able to keep in contact with his friends online, they had Zoom parties,” Mr McMillan said.

“All through his life with his diabetes he never complains, he just gets on with it.”

Mr McMillan kept himself isolated until May in order to protect Kyle.

Now he hopes they can both have a holiday in Spain for a week in July.

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“It’s fine here, everywhere is back open again and it’s very civilised, everyone has masks on in supermarkets and the police patrol the beaches,” he said.

“People respect the rules here much more than in the UK.”

Spain has ended the Covid-19 state of emergency and is allowing visitors from European Union and the UK. Visitors will be subject to checks into their origin location, temperature and contact point on arrival to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, the Scottish Government and UK Foreign Office have issued advice against all but essential travel abroad.

Those who do travel are required to self-isolate for 14 days once back in the country, and must provide contact details, travel details and their address 48 hours before arriving back to Scotland.

Anyone not doing so may be fined.

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