No room for optimism in confused and chaotic world - Helen Martin

Columnists often have to recall what they’ve written in the past, either because they’ve been mistaken, or they predicted the truth.
A shopper wears a protective face mask in Edinburgh's Princes Street earlier this yearA shopper wears a protective face mask in Edinburgh's Princes Street earlier this year
A shopper wears a protective face mask in Edinburgh's Princes Street earlier this year

In one of the earliest columns I wrote about coronavirus, I said optimism wasn’t the best attitude to have, and that was before it was confirmed as a global pandemic.

More recently I described the start of this situation as “the second wave”, and got responses saying that wasn’t right and it was just a little upsurge.

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I wish I’d been wrong. But it seems that many of the public and businesses continue to hope it will disappear, rather than get worse.

Scientists have made clear that this second wave is likely to cause double the number of deaths of the first, not only because it’s worse and numbers will rise, but because it will carry on much longer, probably until March.

Sadly, there seems little chance that Christmas will be a more relaxed time and families can all get together.

We are somewhat behind France and Germany. Macron has already locked down, keeping people indoors as much as possible, closing down all bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses, the exceptions being schools and permitting care home visits.

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Germany is closing bars and restaurants, and keeping shops open with only one person in ten square metres, and all lasting until December. It’s fair to assume most in Germany will obey the rules.

Our hospitality industry is still pushing for opening in a more survivable set-up, albeit with hygiene, screens and every effort they can put in for safety.

Frankly, I think they must shut down if our virus surge matches France and other parts of Europe, who we usually follow with statistics.

But the big difference is that France and Germany are continuing furloughs for the next 18months at 60 – 70 per cent. The UK has just abandoned reasonable funding for the industry and employees.

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No countries are working together which causes immense confusion, not just for Covid-19 but for all important, global issues.

In the US, Trump has described Nigel Farage as “the most powerful man in Europe”! People in the US who vote for him are calling the Democrats “socialist”, apparently something they believe is almost equivalent to communism.

The ban of nuclear weapons under International Law begins to come into force in January. We have Trident here and the UK plans to update it.

Michael Gove is accusing Scotland as not being properly prepared for Brexit. No-one is prepared because no-one knows what the plan is, especially as the US President election tomorrow will decide on Trump (who will do trade deals deal with Boris Johnson) or Biden (who won’t).

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Even Scottish people are confused over flu vaccines, with many failing to book through the “” website or phone number, rather than just queueing in the wrong place and therefore complaining.

And some hospitality bosses are alleged to have told staff not to download the Protect Scotland app, or to keep their phones turned off at work.

We’re in a confused and chaotic world with no common agreement for dealing with Covid-19, or anything else. Once again, caution, security, obedience and safety are better than behaviour and attitudes based on “optimism”.