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NEWS: Lockdown Scotland - Limited Scope for Walkers and Climbers

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If you don't live within five miles of the Cuillin you're not going to be doing this for quite some time yet...

Measures announced on Thursday 21 May by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon point to a more gradual easing of lockdown restrictions than have already taken place in England. It's a long way from the travel free-for-all south of the border.


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In reply to UKC/UKH News:

> Measures announced on Thursday 21 May by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon point to a more cautious and gradual easing of lockdown restrictions than have already taken place in England. It's a long way from the legal outdoors free-for-all south of the border ushered in last week by Boris Johnson, and instead the emphasis remains to 'stay at home'.

But Mum, all my friends in England get to go! 

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 Danbow73 22:36 Thu

Despite the uk govs f$#k ups I'm quite glad I have the freedom to get out and climb right now. Not sure how you can justify driving 10 miles to go walking or climbing in a remote place is in the same category as gyms reopening...

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 Gawyllie 22:39 Thu
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Looks like there will be further clarification over the next week. What the FM has said subsequently in an interview is a bit more positive than the current proposed guidelines.

Post edited at 22:39
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In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Good old SNP, pandering to its rural highland MPs and setting up a narrative that it is protecting Scotland from the evil government in Westminster...whilst of course knowing full well the economic horrors of lockdown will all be blamed on central UK government as the subsequent and now inevitable recession grinds on, yet Nicola can present herself as the steely eyed Queen in the North who unlike wicked BoJo put the health of the people first. 

If allowing people to exercise outdoors was a serious source of transmission, Sweden and Germany would have been overwhelmed by second waves already. This isn’t about the science or protecting lives, it’s about the SNP doing what the SNP does so well - looking out for its vote. Hats off to Sturgeon - she’s a superbly talented politician and she plays a blinder. But please don’t be fooled that this isn’t all politics all the way down. 

Post edited at 23:37
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 scoth 00:30 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

It appears the present severity of covid-19 is far less in Sweden and Germany, so I don't think that's a reasonable argument to make.

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In reply to Paul Sagar:

It's travel that's being restricted, not outdoor exercise. Even outdoor swimming is explicitly to be allowed!

I don't like it, but it seems pretty clear that the UK locked down later than it should have so it'll take even longer to get levels down to where it can be traced and controlled.

Plus the testing and tracing isn't ready yet - it seems mad to release lockdown much without that in place.

I'm hating lockdown, but I can't say it's wrong. Hopefully it'll be refined in a more hillgoing-friendly manner soon.

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 Dave Hewitt 09:11 Fri
In reply to skog:

> It's travel that's being restricted, not outdoor exercise. Even outdoor swimming is explicitly to be allowed!

It's really poorly written in places. My better half is a linguist to trade and she's shocked and really quite angry about what a poor piece of writing it is, given its quasi-legal status. We've both been trying to work out what what's with it, particularly in relation to outdoor activity, but without much definite success. However it's worth noting that the five miles bit ("broadly within 5 miles") is in the "Getting around" section and refers to "from your local community" - which isn't the same as your front door - although quite how "local community" could or should be defined is anyone's guess. We have friends who live just within the Stirling bypass, and who are definitely part of the community here as far as we're concerned; including them pushes our own radius out by a mile and a half, but whether that's what's intended isn't at all clear. People living anywhere in Glasgow, say, might well argue - with some justification - that the whole of the city is their community ("I belong to Glasgow", etc), therefore their five miles starts from the edge of the city. Goodness knows, really.

In the other key section, "Sport, culture and leisure activities", it says that "Unrestricted" amounts of "Non-contact, outdoor activities in your local areas" are allowed - "eg golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling". No mention of five miles there, just "local areas". This appears to throw up an absurdity. We have a neighbour who plays golf at Schawpark near Alloa, which I think is six or seven miles from here. In theory at least all this appears to mean that from next Thursday she would be allowed to play at Schawpark but couldn't drive there (and even if she walked or cycled there she still couldn't play). However if she walked there she could then carry on walking round and round the course as much as she liked - exercise is "unlimited" - but she wouldn't be allowed to play even if she walked far further than she would in a normal round of golf. She's a forthright soul, however, and will almost certainly not abide by such nonsense - and I'd be entertained by seeing anyone attempt to stop her playing.

> I'm hating lockdown, but I can't say it's wrong. Hopefully it'll be refined in a more hillgoing-friendly manner soon.

I wouldn't hold your breath. The use of "hiking" (we appear to be in the US) reinforces an idea that's been around for a long time, namely that there's no one in the current Scottish government who has much interest in or knowledge of hillgoing, be it walking or climbing. They should surely have asked for cross-party input - there's at least one Munroist in the Holyrood chamber - but that was always very unlikely. One current MSP with a huge amount of hill knowledge (and who has camped on our lawn!) is from a party deemed favourable to the SNP, but he appears not to have been consulted either.

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In reply to Dave Hewitt:

> It's really poorly written in places. My better half is a linguist to trade and she's shocked and really quite angry about what a poor piece of writing it is, given its quasi-legal status. We've both been trying to work out what what's with it, particularly in relation to outdoor activity, but without much definite success. However it's worth noting that the five miles bit ("broadly within 5 miles") is in the "Getting around" section and refers to "from your local community" - which isn't the same as your front door - although quite how "local community" could or should be defined is anyone's guess. We have friends who live just within the Stirling bypass, and who are definitely part of the community here as far as we're concerned; including them pushes our own radius out by a mile and a half, but whether that's what's intended isn't at all clear. People living anywhere in Glasgow, say, might well argue - with some justification - that the whole of the city is their community ("I belong to Glasgow", etc), therefore their five miles starts from the edge of the city. Goodness knows, really.

Ha, yeah - I've just posted much the same as this on another thread. I intend taking a liberal interpretation of it, too, but not just flat-out ignoring it.

The relaxation doesn't happen until next Thursday, there's time for some clarification before then.

> I wouldn't hold your breath. The use of "hiking" (we appear to be in the US) reinforces an idea that's been around for a long time, namely that there's no one in the current Scottish government who has much interest in or knowledge of hillgoing, be it walking or climbing. They should surely have asked for cross-party input - there's at least one Munroist in the Holyrood chamber - but that was always very unlikely. One current MSP with a huge amount of hill knowledge (and who has camped on our lawn!) is from a party deemed favourable to the SNP, but he appears not to have been consulted either.

Yeah, I don't think it's that they're against us going hill walking, just that they haven't really given it much thought.

It's a great shame they don't listen more to Andy Wightman...

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 Graeme G 09:40 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> This isn’t about the science or protecting lives, it’s about the X doing what the X does so well - looking out for its vote. please don’t be fooled that this isn’t all politics all the way down.

Could you not just place the name of any political party in place of X? 

I always find it funny how opponents of any political party see their actions as being without merit and purely political for their own gain. No matter where you sit politically.

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In reply to Graeme G:

yes, except in this case the difference is that the SNP is competent. They do it really well. South of the border, it's an odd thing to watch, because it's been so long since any of the UK-wide parties have been remotely as adept as the SNP.

Labour take note. Winning Westminster is going to require winning Scotland back. And that is going to be very, very hard.

Post edited at 10:04
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In reply to Dave Hewitt:

I see this as in part deliberate: keep it vague, knowing that it's only quasi-legal because of the way developed power works, know that most people won't actually read it, but pump out the 'Scotland is Different' message.

Again, no accident that there has been no cross-party consultation. You didn't see the Tories in the 1980s consulting other parties. The SNP is a tight, well run, highly competent political unit. When something like that produces something like this, it's only in some measure an accident that it's a mess. 

Whereas down here, when someone like BoJo spaffs out BoJo-isms as he did on live TV the other week...what you see is what you get.

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 Graeme G 10:11 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Apologies. I had read your post as an anti-SNP rant. You know the SNP bad - everyone else good kind of stuff you read in comments pages online. 
Not that I’m either pro or against, I have friends across the spectrum of politics and it never ceases to amaze how very blinkered politics has (was?) become.

Its interesting to hear Scottish politicians being so highly rated, I heard Ruth Davidson on the TV this morning and she came across as very honest, engaging and competent. 

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In reply to Graeme G:

One of the weird outcomes of Boris becoming PM and the lunatic Brexit wing getting control of the Tory Party is the loss of Ruth Davidson, one of the few truly gifted Tory politicians who, whilst I wouldn't vote for her (she's a Tory), I would much rather see in Westminster in 10 or so years, leading the party south of the border (which looked like her original trajectory) than the horrible Home Counties ignoramus Thacherites who we'll now likely get instead (and have had for so long).

If we are to be ruled by Tories, my god I'd rather be ruled by her than the rest of them. Alas, another thing destroyed by Brexit.

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In reply to Graeme G:

I mean I'm not a huge fan of the SNP. I think they are very dishonest about the reality of an independent Scotland and sell a lot of snake oil. But then I'm not a big fan of any other political party, either. I invested hopes in the Lib Dems after 2016 for a while, even going so far as to stand for local election - but the writing is on the wall that the 2015 election destroyed them and they are done for 2-3 generations. I've quit out of despair at their rank incompetence (much of it stemming from the membership, I'm sorry to say). I had no time for Corbyn and the Labour Left for the past 4 years. I do like Starmer, and was mightily relieved he won the leadership. If there was an election tomorrow I'd happily vote for him - but 4.5 years is a long time for things to go pear shaped...

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In reply to UKC/UKH News:

What isn't clear to me is how prevention of responsible and socially distant travel to mountain regions represents an additional risk to communities in those regions?

I feel sure that there will already be people in Arrochar and Aberfoyle travelling in to Clyde side, from Callendar to Stirling, from Deeside to Aberdeen, from Aviemore or Garve to Inverness and that those journeys will bring them to large retail outlets for weekly shopping or for work in major hospitals . 

My walk along the canal or through Kelvingrove Park has me pass hundreds of people...if I drive to Cowal and ascend an unfashionable Corbett in the evening I will see no-one.

I am resigned to making the (small) sacrifice of access to the hills while everyone is making it but it isn't at all obvious what the purpose or useful effect of that sacrifice might now be?

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 DaveHK 11:05 Fri
In reply to andrew ogilvie:

> I am resigned to making the (small) sacrifice of access to the hills while everyone is making it but it isn't at all obvious what the purpose or useful effect of that sacrifice might now be?

I think that's a key point. Responsible people will make sacrifices for the good of society when they can see the utility of it. The willingness to do that starts to dry up when you can't see the utility.

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In reply to andrew ogilvie:

> What isn't clear to me is how prevention of responsible and socially distant travel to mountain regions represents an additional risk to communities in those regions?

Public toilets are shut, cafes and restaurants are shut, accommodation is shut. Because there is no benefit to the local communities why should they accept any additional risk?

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 DaveHK 11:43 Fri
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> Public toilets are shut, cafes and restaurants are shut, accommodation is shut. Because there is no benefit to the local communities why should they accept any additional risk?

Assuming there is any additional risk why should it be up to rural communities whether they accept it or not? This rural/urban divide and hostility we're seeing is really unhealthy and it won't be solved by a 'stay away' attitude. People in rural communities are more than happy to use the facilities and services in urban areas so that needs to cut both ways.

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 scottbecker 12:02 Fri
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

The Scottish government seems to have completely departed from the science in their lockdown exit strategy. Restricting people’s freedom to travel to the hills and enjoy some fresh air in uncrowded spaces until phase 3, suggests that the risks involved are comparable with activities like fully reopening pubs, hairdressers and mass gatherings. This is absolutely absurd.

I am not an epidemiologist, but allowing people to meet friends and family in increasingly large groups in phases 1 and 2 seems to be the worst possible idea one can imagine with respect to virus transmission. I appreciate that people want to see their friends and family, but objectively this is risky and can hardly be classified as following the best science. 

Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s repeated insistence “she would not be pressured” and that “we must follow the science”, that is exactly what seems to have happened. She has been pressured politically by rural MP’s to throw the mental health and well-being of millions city dwellers under the bus, with no scientific justification for doing so. 

It’s time to put people before politics and stop pandering to the xenophobic paranoia that is sadly on the rise in rural parts of the country.

As a person who lives in the city but spends a large amount of time outdoors in rural areas, the emergence of this trend saddens me deeply. Aside from the obvious problems associated with perpetuating an “us vs. them” mentality, I think it’s important to point out that most of the arguments put forward thus far for keeping city dwellers away from rural areas, are intrinsically flawed.

Take for example the widely echoed concern that small rural health systems wouldn’t be able to cope with increased infections. Although it may sound reasonable at first, this is far from the reality of the situation when you dig a bit deeper.

First of all, with social distancing in place, which is easily achievable in remote open spaces, there is no reason to believe infections would actually increase at all in rural areas as a result of people travelling to the countryside for outdoor activities.

Secondly, in the vast majority cases if you became ill while away from home in a rural area, it would clearly be much easier to simply return home to access healthcare, as opposed to making use of local services.

Finally, even if infections did rise and rural health system capacity faced the worst possible doomsday scenario of being completely overrun, patients would simply be transferred to.... wait for it... cities!

It seems during this crisis frightened residents of rural communities have completely forgotten what has always happened when they get seriously ill and need treatment beyond what their local facilities can offer, they get transferred to a big hospital in a city. Here they are cared for by the same NHS Scotland, with access to the same resources as everyone else.

I think it’s really important that people in the countryside making arguments along the lines of “we have no NHS nightingale hospitals here” realise that this idea is both false and deeply hypocritical.

Now I am not suggesting as a city dweller we should turn away people from rural communities who need treatment in a large hospital. I fact I think the complete opposite and feel strongly that equal healthcare is a right all people in Scotland should be free to enjoy, just like access to our country’s outdoor spaces.

At the end of the day we are all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As residents of Scotland we should be equally free to travel within the country in which we reside, not forced to be prisoners in own homes or pawns in a sinister political game.

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 Dave Hewitt 12:24 Fri
In reply to skog:

> The relaxation doesn't happen until next Thursday, there's time for some clarification before then.

We've also been trying to work out what on earth is meant by the weird phrase in the "Getting around" section: "and travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible". What does "by wheel" mean in this context? I'd initially taken it to be a catch-all usage for anything with wheels - private cars, buses, taxis etc - but for some reason excluding bikes given that they're cited separately. However a friend (again with professional language skills) says she reckons it might well mean "using a wheelchair" (or mobility scooter etc). That could well be it, but again it's a really dismal bit of writing in an official document - it's a sloppy phrase with two verbs and a noun bodged together. The whole thing looks suspiciously like it's not been properly fed through the Civil Service "machine", as they certainly have people who can write properly and clearly even when it's in documentese.

> Yeah, I don't think it's that they're against us going hill walking, just that they haven't really given it much thought.

Agreed, but the worry is that by putting in a definite figure of five miles it will give strength to the various naysayers (police, rangers, park wardens, landowners, general busybodies) one might encounter while trying to do stuff sensibly, locally and within the spirit of the advice. For example it doesn't help at all that the person most widely seen by the general non- or occasional-hillgoing populace as the leading Scottish hill authority has been saying "Five miles, five miles" on Twitter since yesterday afternoon with a certain amount of zeal, and has been cheered on by most of the people responding to him.

PS - This morning the better half bumped into the Schawpark golfer referred to upthread. Better half: "Are you off to the golf next week?" Not-to-be-messed-with lady golfer: "Oh yes!" No mention was made of the five-mile "problem".

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 DaveHK 12:27 Fri
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Took me a bit to work out the travel by wheel thing. Pretty sure it means wheelchair users and I suspect it might be the preferred language of the groups who represent them.

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 Dave Hewitt 12:44 Fri
In reply to DaveHK:

> Took me a bit to work out the travel by wheel thing. Pretty sure it means wheelchair users and I suspect it might be the preferred language of the groups who represent them.

Yes, I think you're right - but it could have been written better (I know at least half a dozen people who could have tidied up the whole document very competently in just a morning) and could really have benefited from a clarificatory note. Plus "hiking" certainly isn't the preferred language of that particular group!

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In reply to scottbecker:

Well said!

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 Dave Hewitt 15:31 Fri
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Updated advice from Scottish mountain rescue - very useful in practical terms allied to the travel etc changes coming in next Thurs:

https://twitter.com/ScottishMR/status/1263825966536818689

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In reply to UKC/UKH News:

MORE DETAILS ON THE FIRST PHASE OF THE COVID-19 ROUTEMAP FROM 28th MAY

This extract from today’s briefing by the First Minister provides a neat summary of the situation from Thursday 28th May for the first phase of the routemap’s four phases for getting Scotland through lockdown and out the other side:

“You will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas. And as long as you stay two metres apart, you will be able to meet outside, with people from another household, including in private gardens. To be clear, that doesn’t limit you to seeing just one specific household during this phase – but you shouldn’t meet with more than one at a time.

We’re also not putting a 5 mile limit on the distance you can travel to, for example, sit with your parents in the garden.

But we are asking you to use judgment. If you travel a long distance, you’ll be more likely to go inside the house to use the bathroom, for example.

And we don’t want you to do that - because if you are infectious, maybe without knowing it, you risk leaving the virus on surfaces. So please use judgment and protect those you care about - even if that might mean staying apart a bit longer.

Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed to restart - such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing - subject to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.

People will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling - to a location near their local community for recreation. But here we are asking you to stay fairly local. 5 miles will not be a strict limit but it is a guide. We don’t want people congregating at tourist hot spots - because crowds bring more risk.

Waste and recycling services will resume, as will many outdoor businesses.

The construction industry will be able to carefully implement steps 1 and 2 of its 6 step restart plan.

Other industries that are expected to resume in phase 2, will be permitted in the first phase to prepare workplaces.

Outdoor retail outlets such as garden centres will be allowed to reopen.

And we will start to resume NHS services which were paused as a result of the pandemic.

Schools will not reopen until 11 August. But, during June, teachers and other school staff will return to prepare for the new term, and for a different model of learning.

Over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare.

And we will provide, where possible, transition support for children going into primary 1 or moving from primary 7 to secondary school.

In addition, childminders can re-open during phase 1. And over the summer all early years childcare providers will re-open, subject to necessary health measures.

The routemap provides more detail on these steps – and on each subsequent phase. It also outlines how they will work alongside our ‘Test and Protect' approach – which will be vital, in helping to control the virus.”

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 DaveHK 15:47 Fri
In reply to Moonstone Hippy:

There was also a bit on the BBC from the police saying they would not be stopping motorists to enforce the 5 mile guideline.

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In reply to DaveHK:

> There was also a bit on the BBC from the police saying they would not be stopping motorists to enforce the 5 mile guideline.

But should that affect our decision as to how far to travel?

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 DaveHK 16:03 Fri
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But should that affect our decision as to how far to travel?

It shouldn't but it probably will!

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 ScraggyGoat 16:48 Fri
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

'for example it doesn't help at all that the person most widely seen by the general non- or occasional-hillgoing populace as the leading Scottish hill authority has been saying "Five miles, five miles" on Twitter since yesterday afternoon with a certain amount of zeal'

Yes,  imagine if we had a landed Tory Gov. at present whom had come up with the 5 miles stipulation............chances of Cambert McPish uttering similar support......

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In reply to Moonstone Hippy:

The key phrase there seems to be "use judgement". I shall bear this in mind, thanks.

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 timparkin 21:43 Fri
In reply to scottbecker:

> It’s time to put people before politics and stop pandering to the xenophobic paranoia that is sadly on the rise in rural parts of the country.

> As a person who lives in the city but spends a large amount of time outdoors in rural areas, the emergence of this trend saddens me deeply. Aside from the obvious problems associated with perpetuating an “us vs. them” mentality, I think it’s important to point out that most of the arguments put forward thus far for keeping city dwellers away from rural areas, are intrinsically flawed

...

> First of all, with social distancing in place, which is easily achievable in remote open spaces, there is no reason to believe infections would actually increase at all in rural areas as a result of people travelling to the countryside for outdoor activities.

> Secondly, in the vast majority cases if you became ill while away from home in a rural area, it would clearly be much easier to simply return home to access healthcare, as opposed to making use of local services.

I live in Ballachulish and currently we have zero infections and an elderly population. Normally at this time of year we would have our local coop packed with tourists, the laybys would be full and the petrol station would have queues. The paths up to the Lost Valley, Devil's staircase, etc would have queues at many pinch points. A significant portion of the doctors cases in the local GP would be tourists. Our local vehicle recovery service would be working pretty much full time rescuing tourists. One of my best friends in the village who works as a paramedic would be going to RTA's pretty much non-stop. 

How long do you think zero infections would last given this change? We might not be as busy as normal, although seeing photographs from down south I think we might possibly be worse. 

It's easy to say that you would behave sensibly however if we use that argument then everybody would behave sensibly and we wouldn't have needed lockdown. Sadly, people don't behave sensibly and so you have to suffer a more restrictive environment than you really need to.


 

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 gman2012 14:11 Sat
In reply to timparkin:

> ...

> I live in Ballachulish and currently we have zero infections

You're very fortunate, I suppose that's thanks to the people who set their plans aside and stayed away during lockdown.

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 scottbecker 14:55 Sat
In reply to timparkin:

I do understand where you are coming from and honestly do sympathise with people in rural communities during this horrible epidemic. But it is also important that we take into account the perspectives and interests of everyone on these matters, instead of simply putting forward a dangerously polarising ‘keep away’ message .

I agree that people don’t behave sensibly, however the soultion cannot be to simply punish everyone for the poor behaviour of a small minority.  This would be akin to banning everyone from driving, because some people drink and drive. 

In a free society at some point you have to give people their freedom of movement back. Unfortunately there are always going to be some bad apples, but there are a lot of reasonable people too. 

The small minority that choose to break the rules will do so anyway because as you say, people don’t behave sensibly. So why not be more fair with the people that do behave sensibly, would respect reasonable rules in place, and as you say currently ’have to suffer a more restrictive environment than you really need to.’

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 CurlyStevo 23:08 Sat
In reply to scoth:

Actually the deaths in Sweden is 0.039% of the population whilst Scotland 0.041%, so I hypothesise the infection rates are broadly similar.

Post edited at 23:16
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