Covid lockdown: A year on, a brighter future for us all is tantalisingly close – Steve Cardownie

Streets in Edinburgh's city centre were quiet in the run-up to the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)Streets in Edinburgh's city centre were quiet in the run-up to the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Streets in Edinburgh's city centre were quiet in the run-up to the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Yesterday’s anniversary of lockdown restrictions was marked by a minute’s silence at midday as part of a “Day of Reflection”.

The UK’s official death toll reached over 126,000 with nearly 10,000 recorded in Scotland as of last week, according to National Records of Scotland (NRS), with a third of those taking place in care homes.

There have been Covid-19 deaths among younger people in Scotland but nearly 73 per cent of deaths recorded by the NRS have been among the over-75s and their figures also demonstrate that the incidence of Covid-19 deaths gets higher the more deprived an area is. That’s the background.

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While the measures to combat the virus have varied and fluctuated, affecting schools, pubs, restaurants and shops as well as the ability to meet and socialise with family members, friends and neighbours, restrictions have existed throughout the year in one form or another.

Now that over two million people (around 45 per cent of the population aged 16 or over) have received their first dose of the vaccine some of the restrictions have been relaxed with more to follow, particularly if the government meets its target of having offered a first dose to all adults by the end of July.

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Lockdown one year on: Edinburgh pauses to reflect

However we are not out of the woods yet as the short history of this virus informs us. Scotland has suffered more than one wave, with a significant outbreak detected in Aberdeen, linked to bars in the city centre, in July and pockets of infection emerging elsewhere before the second wave began to hit towards the end of last year.

Now warnings have been sounded from the government that a third wave might (just might) be on the horizon due to the increased incidence of the virus taking hold on the continent.

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It would appear that the pandemic has forced many of us to examine the way we used to live and conduct our business.

In a recent survey, some 40 per cent of the 2,200 people who participated said that they expected to walk more often than before and almost a third expected to continue working from home and doing their shopping nearby which will be more than welcome news to local traders.

The prospect of foreign holidays is, as yet, uncertain with the majority of the advice suggesting that we should look closer to home for our summer break rather than make for the Canaries or such like.

So an economic boost to Scottish venues is on the cards as our cousins south of the border make their way north to sample the delights on offer.

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Given the impact that the virus has had on the retail and hospitality sector, it cannot come a moment too soon and Edinburgh is well placed to take advantage, which, as our major festivals have again been affected, could go some way to repair the damage.

One year on, we have learned to cope with a new way of life. Some of us have suffered tragic family and friend bereavements and some of us have emerged largely unscathed, with our health intact and looking forward to the future.

One thing is for sure, the last year has been one to forget but brighter times beckon – we just have to hang on in there.

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